Online Education in India During Covid-19

The world came to a standstill with the novel Coronavirus outbreak in 2019. Surpassing everyone’s expectations, the Covid-19 brought the world’s most dreadful fears to life. Everything is now online, from meetings to parties; hence our learning became online education.

Angsty teenagers, cheeky college students, and temperamental primary school kids all had to resort to the exact solution to the unique challenge the coronavirus presented – complete lockdown in India. 

The backbone of the Indian education system collapsed with the inaccessibility of school infrastructure during complete lockdown rendering it futile.

India’s Predicament

The unprecedented times made the world question the preparedness, design, and effectiveness of its disaster management policies. For a developing nation such as India, the future proved to be extraordinarily troublesome.

On the one hand, the death toll in India kept rising exponentially, while on the other, panic spread among the general population. Upon thorough analysis, WHO pointed out the need for social distancing to break the virus chain. 

Once preventative measures were put in place and new laws were instituted, the education system got its much-needed upgrade.

The digitization of education in India presented a duality that enabled distant learning for the suburban population and hampered education in rural areas due to connectivity and accessibility issues. 

Not all heroes wear capes, some become a Teacher

Online teaching is currently the primary mode of teaching in India and could soon be the new normal. Online classes are more than just a means to provide access to homebound students, it caters to the overall development of students through syllabus modifications and interactive teaching techniques.


The problems faced during transitioning to the online platform such as Zoom classes, WhatsApp exams, and MS Teams collaborative projects from traditional face-to-face education were complex, especially for a developing nation like India.

In 2020, India still had a literacy rate of 74.04% due to various geological, economic, and overpopulation issues. The sudden switch from chalk and board schools to online video lectures was inconvenient for teachers and their pupils.

Factors affecting the success of Online Learning

  • Problems such as weak internet connectivity, unfamiliarity with the proper technology, and poverty hamper the effectiveness of online teaching platforms. 
  • India’s socio-economic gap has dire effects on online class attendance to the extent of almost 50% reduction in remote areas due to the unavailability of devices and power outages. 
  • The lack of personal touch and reduced social interaction leads to poor mental health, causing anxiety, depression, and stress in students.

A Necessary Evil

Being well versed with digital content and conveying it effectively online has never been a criterion for teaching. There is a visible generation gap between students and teachers, affecting their adaptability to this sudden shift to teaching online. 

Remember the only technologically advanced person in our school was the computer teacher? 2020 pulled our teachers through technological advancements they had happily been avoiding. It has been challenging for our teaching faculty to use the same platforms they use for entertainment to be used for teaching kids. 

Classroom teaching enabled the teacher to assess students’ body language and eye contact, which served as telltale signs of the depth of student understanding; online education robbed that from teachers. For kids in elementary schools, maintaining focus is the biggest problem due to their short attention span. Even college kids suffer from the distraction caused due to cell phones. 

STEM programs include hands-on laboratory sessions, dissertation projects, and field trips for comprehensive learning, which isn’t offered during online teaching

The holistic character development that in-class learning provides, such as communication and social skills, sportsmanship is hindered by a lack of firsthand participation, which may lead to underperformance in student’s personal and professional lives in the future. 

Some necessary changes required to facilitate online education in India are- undisturbed access to the internet in level 3 and rural states in India and comprehensive policy control to optimize operational framework.

It is important to consider student’s varying learning rates and create customized strategies. Increased screen time, psychological effects such as anxiety and stress need to be addressed and restructured. 

Conventional or Convenient?

Nostalgia overpowers you when you think about school time, shared meals, friendships, or even the tantrum-filled fights amongst friends.

Remember the ice cream vendor we would all rush to after school? Or the fact that going to school instilled a sense of discipline in students and made them vulnerable by physically being there? That tradition might very well be near its end, and rightly so? Debatable. 

Online Education – A blessing in disguise

  • E-learning ensures that it prepares for the future by acquiring the right skills for your dream job. 
  • Online education opens the door to teachings that are beyond the norms without any limitations.
  • E-learning allows students unlimited access to diverse topics and global experts in niche subjects which is an incredible opportunity for most people. 
  • Online education offers affordable education without restricting an age barrier, inhibitions, or having to compromise on one’s other responsibilities.
  • The online platform pushes students to remain focused and attentive instead of the commotion one had to deal with during classroom teaching. Facilities like Screen-share, chat, whiteboard make online classes interactive and encourage students to engage and converse among themselves and the faculty. 

Online education was once used only as a mode of distant learning due to its pocket-friendly nature. It allowed students to stay at home saving them the hassle of moving to a different place, cut down on the living costs, and the reduced admission fee, making it an optimum alternative to classroom education. 

Covid-19 in India has presented a unique opportunity for introverted students who find it intimidating to learn in large classes reducing their stress. New methods of teaching and assessment are being innovated every day by teachers.

Blended Learning

Keeping in mind the need to revise the syllabus catering to the online education needs, blended learning was introduced.

  • Blended learning is a combination of traditional face-to-face classroom training with high-tech eLearning. 
  • It is a dynamic teaching technique that covers all bases and engages all types of learners – traditional and independent self-autonomous students. 
  • Classroom teaching offers immediate face-to-face feedback, whereas online learning caters to the personalized needs regulating self-paced learning through interactive media such as games, videos, quizzes, social media components – all available on the student’s smartphone or tablet. 
  • The online environment promotes compelling opportunities to engage with students as the faculty has more time to focus on the study material than documentation and official work.

Pocket-friendly Lockdown

With most countries having imposed a travel ban, an online platform offers access to your favorite colleges without splurging dollars in admission fees and living expenses.

India deals with the problem of brain drain as most graduates seek postgraduate education from abroad. The distant learning program, along with lockdown, encourages reverse brain drain, with students having to stay at home and pursue their further studies.

E-learning platform provides a platform to students to address their concerns and have a heart-to-heart conversation with their mentors helping the teachers create a personalized teaching method.

Gearing up for the future

As cases seem to decline after the second wave of COVID-19, opening educational institutions is still dubious

The current shortage of vaccines in India with a variant that targets people of the 18-45 age group has resulted in a more understanding general population.

 

As students find new ways to reduce stress and frustration, teachers develop new teaching techniques to engage with students ensuring effective learning. 

Online education offers exciting opportunities for students and teachers alike while also aiding in widening inequalities in the socio-economic fabric of India.

Learning from Past Mistakes

  • Good vision, sincere efforts, time investment, and inclusive policies and interventions will show online education in India the way ahead. 
  • There is evidence that shows low-tech mediums such as radio, television have proved helpful in the education of disadvantaged groups.
  • In places where digital means of communication are out of reach, the distribution of paper-based learning material is of great help to students, especially girls.
  • India suffers gender discrimination, and as a result, the female population remains uneducated due to their household responsibility. In such cases, free distribution of educational resources can be of great help. 
  • Radio broadcast, distribution of stationery and books to students, and mobile-based educational intervention are some ways to improve literacy in India.
  • There are concrete steps taken to make education free and accessible to all through the circulation of videos on WhatsApp and YouTube and the implementation of inclusive educational policies.

The unwelcome shift towards digital education serves as a blessing in disguise. It offers students to stay within their comfort zone while choosing to learn at their own pace. 

The ambiguity surrounding the future of the Indian Education System is frustrating, but we must keep an open mind and make the best of what is available. 

E-learning platform enables students to prepare for competitive exams and learn skills that can be directly applied to the industry of their choice. 

While online education is not ideal, blended education techniques open doors for everyone that one wasn’t even aware of.

Patience, persistence, and resilience will help us build a better world with better education, better opportunities, and a better life.


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