With the outbreak of COVID-19, the world came to a standstill last year. While the Indian Government initially resorted to a lockdown for preventing further spread of the disease, it lifted the restrictions later to minimise economic losses. The pandemic has proved to be an unscalable wall for the on-campus system of education. Schools, Colleges, and other academies opened for a brief period; however, the second wave made it impossible to continue. During these turbulent and uncertain times, technology has helped in keeping education afloat and consistent.
The unprecedented situation forced schools to close their campuses and shift the entire learning and education process online. This transition was not easy for most of the schools in the country. A recent report by the central government (Unified District Information System for Education Report) states that 78% of schools in India do not have an internet connection, and around 61% do not even have computers.
While students from these schools have been unfortunate, others, especially those in the urban centres, have accessed education with the help of technology. Online platforms like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom provided customised solutions to help schools continue their endeavour.
While campus education has evolved with time, online education is still in its nascent stage. Nonetheless, it has proved to be a boon. Furthermore, the salient features of technology-enabled education can prove to be beneficial for everyone- the teachers, students and the institution.
Benefits of Online Education:
1. Professional development: The teachers were accustomed to the traditional teaching methods, and specialised training sessions on these platforms helped in their professional growth. Their digital hiccups were removed as they learned various new techniques related to online education.
2. Better prepared lessons: Technology helps the teachers in preparing personalised and engaging lesson plans. While the traditional teaching plan was static, education with the help of technology has become interactive. Teachers can develop a better-structured lesson plan by inter-weaving the best possible digital resources with their lesson plan, eg: videos, images interactive quizzes, etc.
3. Rote learning[ii] to real learning: While the students are given task-based homework in the traditional education system, a mix with online education also exposes them to insight-led homework. Technology also helps in creating and assigning homework. It ensures that the homework is submitted within the set timeframe. Further, digital education nurtures the inquisitive world of students. They learn to utilize the vast resource available on the internet.
4. Assessment: The assessment process on digital platforms is relatively quick, easy and transparent. Teachers can gauge the development of their scholars and accordingly make alterations to the teaching plan. Since physical supervision isn’t possible on the online platform, these assessments help students develop a sense of accountability as well.
5. Parent-teacher communication: While the traditional education system has few designated days for parent-teacher communication, the digital learning system allows more frequent meetings from the comfort of their homes. Teachers can update the parents about the development of their wards, while the parents can interact with the teachers to give their feedback. Further, parents can help the teachers understand their ward’s problem areas, and the teacher can try to provide the best-suited solutions.
6. Parental participation: Children, especially young ones, need regular supervision, which calls for increased parental participation. While the responsibility of parents ends at the school gates in the traditional education process, they have more avenues to participate in their child’s development in the online education system.
The online education system emerged as a stop-gap arrangement due to the prevalence of the pandemic.