Digital learning didn’t just impact the students and parents, but in fact affected the whole portion connected to the education sector.
The troubles of pandemic combined with digital education
“Wi-Fi went down for five minutes, so I had to talk to my family. They seem like nice people.” what sounds like a joke and a meme actually became our reality in the pandemic, didn’t it? The jarring wave of pandemic did bring the world closer through the means of technology but it also left us all in a wreck, especially the education sector. While students enjoyed the long term vacation, the COVID-19 continued to cause school closures all across the world. As a result, it caused a huge shift in the education sector considerably, with the notable rise of e-learning, in which teaching was done remotely and on digital platforms. Even though one can argue about the marvelous innovation of zoom, google meets and team, that helped students to get a free pass from the hectic and boring lectures, but it did create a learning gap for the rural children.
Further, considering the rural population, even though several educational institutions had begun the online mode of education, and the government too had launched several schemes like Mission Buniyadto boost digital learning, several students were unable to access the technology of online classes. Students had poor digital literacy and poor internet and electricity connection amplified the learning gap. Further, due to the lack of a physical classroom environment where students could interact effectively with each other, many children’s learning progress had dipped in the past two years, affecting their creativity and making them sloth bags.This created a pressure on several institutions to upgrade their teaching methods.
A boom in the Edtech industry:
In the course of online mode of teaching, where teachers lost the classroom connection with the students and some institutions struggled to inculcate discipline, education app creators successfully launched their applications and websites which would help the children to learn uniquely with more creative tools. Institutions like Byjus and Upgrad got an opportunity to enable virtual learning by active one on one communication with students to resolve their doubts and also providing them with reading material and enhancing their research skills. According to Mrinal Mohit, the company's Chief Operating Officer, BYJU has experienced a 200 percent rise in the number of new students utilizing its product since introducing free live classes on its Think and Learn app. These apps got a kick start while the teachers were hoping you as a student would turn your cameras on and the parents were hoping that at least today you wouldn’t sleep through your lectures.
These apps did their best to make your already convenient student life more convenient and lousy. For instance, Google Meet began to adapt the ‘new normal’ of digital learning by introducing the ‘raise hand’ option and added new filters for you. Teams improvised their interface and zoom as well with new technology every two months. All this to convince you (student) and make your learning fun and interesting. However, it did little to lure you as you as students did what you always do, ‘got too comfortable and hence forgot to use it correctly’ This point further adds to the argument of Indian students being unprepared for the correct usage of online learning.
Educational institutions prefer traditional means?
Many educational institutions explained how the learning actually created a gap between the students and teachers and compromised the child’s creativity.
“The students lost touch with the authentic learning process which would mean being interactive and using their own cognitive brain. With the availability of google, children forgot to use their own creative brain and therefore became lazy.”
Said Dr Yojana Sharma, Vice Principal of Maheshwari Public School, Ajmer and CBSE Head Examiner. Students even took the educational institutions for granted which made it more difficult for them to tackle the learning process.
The digital education might have made Indian teachers tech savvy, but it also disconnected them from the students life as due to lack of physical classroom, they could not track the students growth. Higher education sector specifically suffered a lot as the students used unfair means to give exams and therefore failed to gain any real practical knowledge. This left the schools and colleges helpless. Despite the availability of various platforms, the teachers could not monitor the students and this gave a free pass to the students, which thus affected their education.
The situation today, after this major shift of Online, offline and hybrid, is such that the students are now back to the traditional means of education and several pre-primary children are not ready to join the schools, and sit in the classroom as they find it difficult to adjust to the concept of discipline and classroom. Dr Yojana Sharma, also mentioned how the pre primary kids were resenting the concept of classrooms and were hesitant to learn anything.
“Pre-primary kids missed out on the three years of education and therefore it was difficult for them to sit in the class. To handle such situations, our institution has designed a routine in a creative way. For instance, the day would get started with drama, music, play time, followed by some important lectures and then again the kids would get an interval from classes with some fun activities. This way we ensure that kids get more interactive in the classroom and their learning happens in a creative way. Furthermore, we also have counselors to understand the behavior of certain students and to resolve their issues.”
She also mentioned that despite the offline mode having begun officially now, they would continue hybrid mode when and if necessary.
“We would have an online session if we see it necessary where we would only provide reading materials for students who missed out on any classes. However our priority would be to encourage students to take down the notes in the class itself.”
The disapproval of online education is not just limited to the teachers, even parents and guardians prefer traditional education over the online mode. According to a survey performed by Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) at ISB, almost 33% of parents expressed concern about the efficiency of online learning and how a virtual learning environment may hinder their child's capacity to compete in the future. In addition, 36% of parents were concerned about their children's long-term psychological impact from online learning. Students spend an average of three hours per day on online sessions. And parents believe that most times, the student is distracted by other online applications leading to poor attention span and low productivity.