In the midst of a worldwide lockdown, there is an emphasis on online classes and Internet studies in many countries. India is also not untouched where issues like digital literacy and digital divide between the need for online education and its business.
All educational institutions, including school colleges in India, were closed from March 24 due to the Corona crisis before they could complete their academic sessions. During this period of lockdown, attempts were made to complete the session with online learning. Classes were continuing in many educational institutions and examinations were pending. Controversial web platforms such as Zoom were resorted to for conducting middle and secondary classes online. Somewhere there were classes through Google and somewhere via Skype. Somewhere online content was prepared on YouTube, somewhere lectures and class videos were prepared and sent online and sent to groups of students through WhatsApp. But most institutes are not ready for online examination. Knowledgeable people believe that institutions like IITs can conduct final year students examinations online. In the real world, there was a lull in the virtual world amidst the panic, rescue, and misdeeds of COVID. Quarantine, not only at home but also became a place for online work and online studies. This sequence was going on vigorously for about one and a half months. Here summer holidays have been declared in many educational institutes and in many institutes are expected in a few days, then the pace of this process has stopped. But this whole experience has not only indicated changes in the modalities of future education but has also prepared the way.
Competition to create virtual coaching center
A parallel virtual coaching base has come into existence due to the loss of coaching towns like Kota of Rajasthan. Experts were teaching in closed rooms for a time, now they are teaching by looking at the screens. Registration is on a large scale to get online coaching institutes, digital classrooms, and online courses. A new e-market has been opened for the production and consumption of educational material. The demand for many online learning platforms and tutorials such as Coursera, Baijus, Vedantu, and Mindspark has been seen for the last few years. The result of this popularity is that Baiju Ravindran, founder of the online classes platform Baijus, has been described as India’s youngest billionaire. The total value of his wealth has been estimated at around two billion dollars in the Forbes list.
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KPMG and Google, the top agencies of audit and marketing, have released a report titled ‘Online Education in India: 2021’ which has estimated an unprecedented eight-fold growth in the online education business in India during the period 2016 to 2021. In 2016, this business was about $ 250 million and in 2021 its value will increase to about two billion dollars. The number of paid users of education was said to be around 16 lakhs in 2016, which is expected to be around one crore in 2021. According to government statistics, there are 993 universities, around forty thousand colleges, and 385 private universities in the country. There are about four crore students in higher education and the gross enrollment ratio has increased to 26.3 percent. More than 31 lakh students were enrolled in 10th and 12th classes for the 2019 examination of CBSE, the country’s premier education board. Apart from CICSE, the student numbers of school boards of various states are also in crores. In view of these figures, agencies related to internet education are drenched in the expectations of profit. Under online learning, virtual classes and video-audio content, presentations, syllabus, and tutorials are there, webinars, mock tests, videos, and counseling methods are also being conducted online.
Internet not available to everyone
According to KPMG, Internet penetration in India is 31 percent, which means that more than 400 million people in the country use the Internet. By 2021, this number will exceed 73 crores. Similarly, at present, there are 29 crore smartphone users in the country. By 2021, 18 crore new users will be added. Online medium is also considered to be most effective for distance education. Meanwhile, the government itself has started campaigns like e-Basta and Digital India. Looking at this enthusiastic picture, one can realize that education in India will go from offline to online mode in the blink of an eye. But the more attractive the figures are, the more complex the reality. Because all this process is scattered at the moment, there is no sequence or plan in it. Nothing is lawful. It is difficult to say how ready the school and university administrations were to run online classes while claiming to be smart classrooms and digital-rich, but practical difficulties soon started appearing. Somewhere the crisis of internet connection, speed somewhere, electricity somewhere, and other technical and domestic mess.
There is a debate in the education world whether online trends will give the possibility of providing more level of education to more and more children in the future. Because it is not just about the Internet and learning, it is also about the huge digital divide that is seen between rich and poor in this country. If you look at the above figures of KPMG, then this aspect also becomes clear. Apart from the technical requirements and scheduling of the online class, one of the questions is of mutual cohesion and social engagement between the teacher and the students and among the classmates. Teachers can also use other human and physical tools of communication and communication in the classroom, but it is not possible to do so online. One of the biggest drawbacks of the virtual classroom is not maintaining Rabta at the same time. Apart from technical problems, issues like privacy and decency have also arisen during classes conducted through an app called Zoom in cities. Many more inconveniences have also been seen, which can be unknown in social media networking but online studies also require authentic presence, patience, and discipline. Obviously, this new experience demands special training.
Teacher taking online class in South Korea
Need to create a proper environment
It is also important to know whether the country is ready for this on the basis of numbers, amidst the compulsion and attractiveness of online studies. According to a study, only 12 and a half percent of the families with students studying in the university have internet available in their homes. Abhirup Mukhopadhyay, Professor of Economics at the Statistics Commission of India, has said in an article based on data from the National Sample Survey Organization that 85 percent of urban students studying in universities have internet, but only 41 percent of those who have homes But there is also internet. On the other hand, only 28 percent of the 55 percent of highly educated rural students have access to the internet in their homes. State-wise differences have also been observed. 51 percent of rural households in Kerala have internet access but only 23 percent have access to homes. In states like West Bengal and Bihar, only seven to eight percent of rural households have internet access.
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Digital learning is considered an innovative, time, resource, and distance saving medium, while according to some experts it can lead to loneliness, isolation, and frustration. As the lockdown scope and time will increase due to the Corona crisis or future precaution, restrictions and challenges will be formed, there will also be a challenge to develop comfortable ways of conducting classes at that time. Although the elimination of classroom education is not possible in a country like India, the need is to create such a co-ordinating and inclusive framework of education in which digital education does not mock the traditional education systems nor does traditional education, and innovation of digital learning Try to interrupt.