Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the world has made a drastic shift to the digital medium. It repurposed online medium for individuals and businesses. This change became necessary in India too as we had to devise means to keep the economy and society moving, as we are yet to see the pandemic’s end.
What happened before this shift?
One of the primary sectors, of the world’s global economy, affected due to the coronavirus pandemic is the educational sector. The Indian education sector was severely hit by it too. The closure of schools has resulted in a steep rise in learning through online platforms. This ensured that education continued, and the process of attaining a degree remains unaltered. One thing of note is that online learning platforms have been in existence for a relatively long time now, e.g., Udemy, Edx, and Coursera. Indians have also received average degrees from a regular university via their online study options.
Online learning is now widely adopted in different schools in Indian and the world. However, some discussions need to be made. It is worth discussing if ensuring this option is as impactful as the traditional, physical classroom method we were used to in older days.
How accessible are the resources needed by students?
It is paramount to note that the classroom method of learning brings together a diverse group of people; the rich, the middle class, and the poor. In this method, the Indian school facility is available for use by both teachers and diverse students. However, this may not be so for the online way now, as not everyone may have the necessary learning device.
Rural Indians are deprived of this facility. Urban Indians, too often struggle with stable internet connectivity, regardless of them owning mobile devices. This factor must be considered and a possible solution of integrating the available device to accommodate whatever needs to be learned. The government is also due to finalize, what are the acceptable time brackets or “schooling hours” for Indian schools and Universities.
It is important to note that some international students travelled back to their native countries in the wake of the outbreak while the international borders were still open. Many Indian students returned from foreign lands, back to India. Bearing this in mind, it is also worthy of note that having online classes has to be done so that students who are now back in their native countries. This could mean scheduling classes in parts, according to time zones so that every student can participate. The downside could possibly be that the teachers will make sacrifices of their time and resources.
What is the long term effect of just meeting virtually without physical classroom meetings?
Humans are said to be social animals, which is rightly so as we make more connections and impact physically. Indians are no exception to this psychology. Just by being in close proximity with someone else, conversing, and sharing ideas, we relieve ourselves of stress and anxiety.
Some students only find comfort and fulfilment in being a part of a group and working physically on projects and class works. Having a classroom/ physical school setting helps to overcome whatever emotional or mental issues they may face. How do students, especially those in the sciences, work on projects that may address a need in society or affect the world’s economy?
The same is true for students when they meet physically in classroom settings. A school is a physical learning environment that builds students academically, for a job or career, and socially, emotionally, and mentally for life. Indians are known to be much more social than others and sometimes even invasive. This is how global media houses stereotypes them.
It is paramount to analyze the effect of prolonged online classroom meetings without physical meetings on students’ behaviours. Let us also put into consideration the fatigue associated with prolonged screen time. Yes, there is such a thing! A person can get overwhelmed with too much learning and meeting that takes place online. Indian doctors saw a hike in patients who were struggling with healthy eyesight. Surprisingly, this complaint was mostly from students and working professions—the reason behind it- the extended screen time.
Will India finalize the duration of an online degree?
We may need to begin to consider the reduction in the years of learning for online schooling. When we put into consideration the number of years required to obtain a degree, for example, a Marketing degree which is usually four years in most universities of the world, it may become essential to begin to suggest a reduction in the length of time.
Experience has shown that more time is invested in classes and designated works from teachers to students in taking a course online. For a full-time study, says a four-year course, the study’s length could be reduced to accommodate the learning essentials.
How will online learning benefit Indians economically?
One direct effect of a reduced learning duration is a cut in the students’ school fees. Students’ loan is one debt that young professionals in the workforce still find difficult to pay even after years of obtaining a degree. However, this occurrence will be reduced with a reduction in the number of years for study using the online platform.
Indians have huge potential. The students are willing to tap on every opportunity on their way, to become a better learner and advance in their careers. The Indian government is still figuring it out on how to streamline this process.