The covid-19 pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide. It lead to near-total closure of schools, universities, and colleges. The impact was most severe for young children and their families. It caused interrupted learning, compromised nutrition and childcare problems. In India, the closing of schools and rescheduling of examinations was sudden, unrehearsed and ill-equipped. It caused a huge interruption in the education system because schools were not ready and equipped to face such situations.
It took a pandemic for the government to understand that India’s education system needs a technology boost. The online education space in India has been catching up for a few decades now but it has been largely used for skills developing and self-learning. The pandemic changed the education paradigm and irrespective of their exposure to learn online one have had to adapt and learn. Some private schools have adopt online teaching methods that too via a third party software such as zoom.
Teachers in India were not equipped to conduct classes in such a way. Due to a lack of devices and a lack of knowledge to operate those devices, switching over the mode of teaching was a huge challenge for teachers. These sudden closures negatively impacted student learning outcomes; issues included distractions and time management, staying motivated, understanding course expectations, quality education, lack of content planning and development as well as uncertainty about the future.
The current crisis has turned the focus on the flaws of the system such as,
- lack of access to quality education for all;
- lack of inclusive education;
- scarcity of qualified teachers;
- and low focus on life skills.
In the US, even before the current pandemic forced school closures, digital schooling had been increasing immensely. Virtual schooling in developed countries has helped overcome the biggest concern of gaps in a student’s learning process. Online learning can be as good as or even better than in-person classroom learning,” says Christine Greenhow, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Educational Technology at Michigan State University. “Research has shown that students in online schools performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”
With the help of digital schooling, developed countries have been catering to a child’s needs and education requirements. Likewise, digitalization of education in India is important to serve a child’s education during emergencies like this pandemic as well as on regular basis. Schools in India are not benchmarked for teaching and syllabus while virtual schools have standards to look up to. They also provide,
- time or scheduling flexibility;
- 24*7 access to course material;
- location or geographic flexibility which ensures comfortable learning environment;
- zero commute;
- multimedia presentations;
- and a variety of course options.
Children are supposed to interact with people especially teachers. Constant isolation for long periods of time can cause mental health problems in children. While isolation issue is due to the pandemic, there are many more issues children face in regular schools. These issues can cause anxiety or even traumas. The biggest issue children face is bullying which can be of different kinds. Other than bullying, children face peer pressure which ultimately affects a child’s character and moral values. Very young children can even develop inferiority complex when dealing with a number of competitive fellow classmates. These are basic issues a child face in a regular school. Persuading virtual school can avoid them. Children are very tender emotionally at young age. They are unable to commute their problems. Virtual education is the best option when keeping such scenarios in mind.
These schools are more advanced as well as a better option for future learners, not only during this pandemic but also during regular times. That is because they keep evolving and upgrading in shorter time spans. The learning system provides more options and exposure to children keeping their pace of learning in check. Also making them familiar with advanced technology and preparing children at a global level. It also ensures higher retention rates due to decrease in stressors and pressures present in traditional schooling.
For many students and families especially those in an unconventional situation having fewer options, online education is most convenient. Online education also appeals to young athletes, entertainers, actors, and musicians who need a curriculum that accommodates their busy schedules. As education won’t be tied to a particular time or place, academic expectations will still be rigorous and will prepare the learner to earn credits in time. In order to have better economic opportunities children need access to high quality education to develop skills that are relevant in the workforce. Online education makes it much more straightforward, affordable and convenient.
In critical times such as right now that has brought world to an almost complete lock-down, online education would have turned out to be a savior. E-learning platform offers more benefits over traditional classrooms to students and hence,it can be believed that online learning is the future of education.