Until February 2020, didn’t we think “screens replacing classrooms” was at best a good topic for debate competitions or coffee table discussions? Maybe in a distant future, where our cars were solar-powered and daily lives AI integrated but the outbreak of corona virus has made some unprecedented changes.
Having a black/white board behind you and a room full of students in front you was so tight knit to the idea of teaching, that even the thought of no physical classrooms was never really acceptable. Online education was thought of as something for the western liberals, not for India. Of course, the reasons for such an argument were not limited to centuries-long of mind conditioning of the education fraternity but also the serious shortfall of infrastructure and support systems in India. Many Indian households are not privileged enough to own computers or smartphones. In today’s times, when Internet is talked of as a basic commodity, a smooth Internet connection still remains a dream for a sizable portion of the Indian population. (Hopefully this will will change with arrival of 5-G in the game.) And yes, these arguments cannot be denied.
But the outbreak of the Corona pandemic came with a force of realization, of acceptance of the inevitability of online education. Such was the magnitude of that force that it made us aware of the need to strengthen our education model and welcome technology into our lives.
Educators began exploring different online platforms to teach students and evaluate them. Online meeting platforms are drastically gaining popularity. Students started getting accustomed to learning without their friends sitting around them (its really more personalized – in a sense) or without their teacher continually peeking into their notebook (a boon – I must say:-)) to check if they were taking down notes. Acceptance about online education has grown tremendously; partly because it is the only practical way forward and partly because of the numerous advantages it offers. It gives teachers an impetus to get creative and teach students in more engaging ways. Students perceive this as more personalized learning as against learning in a classroom with students having highly different grasping abilities. They can now get their doubts cleared without the fear of being judged.
The sudden transition to online education is definitely not without hiccups. Here are some I would like to list (some of them might be a repetition of what I wrote above):
- Many (Old and Young) are still resistant to the very idea of online education. These hardliners would jump back to old wagon at the first opportunity. Old habits die hard.
- Some teachers are still struggling to come to terms with the new technology. (But I feel – this is just a phase – these are fighters with a huge potential to influence students.)
- The biggest problem with the current model of online education is the lack of class control. But this might also mean that a teacher needs to be more creative to make class more engaging. I am sure the new soft wares will take care of teething issues like attendance (for systemic requirements)
- Not every household has the luxury of laptop or desktop. Moreover it becomes more challenging when the same gadget needs to be shared among children and WFH duty of parents.
- There are more challenges in terms of connectivity and testing.
But while there are cons there are many pros. I believe that:
- Online education cannot be one sided process. Only those students will get engaged who are interested.
- Learning will be students’ responsibility as would be teaching – a teacher’s responsibility.
- I have personally experienced – not so active – students suddenly asking more questions without the fear of being labelled.
- The physical distance is a passe. The students can have access to best teachers rather than tin-pots.
- Online model is fueling teaching creativity among the good teachers.
- It has shown that a hell lot of time (otherwise lost in travelling in big cities) is saved. Time saved energy and money saved.
The online learning model might be in nascent stage but it is here to stay. Those discarding it are living in fool’s paradise. The blend of physical and online will be the golden mean for a majority of the courses. In either case the key to learn online effectively is being responsible toward your education.
We, at Learners’ Academy (LearnAc – as we fondly call our academy), have embraced online education with open arms. Ours was the first academy arguably in Pune, to go online. We had our online education platform www.elearnac.com ready in 2019 with the intention of going online globally. We do intend to go global in the near future. But right now we are concentrating to catering to our existing students in Kothrud region of Pune.
The e-learning platform of LearnAc (fondly called eLearnAc) is a state-of-art portal offering a virtual classroom, live streaming of lectures, recorded lectures, theory paper correction and mock tests for competitive exams like the JEE, MHT-CET and NEET. Its an amazing Learning Experience Platform (LXP) offering students a personalized learning experience. LearnAc is making even the online learning an enjoyable experience and as real as possible. We intend to continue with blended model of learning in the future and also increase our horizon beyond Pune. We believe that the mode of education is hardly an obstacle for committed educators and learners. LearnAc intends to share its space with everyone in the world.