As the COVID-19 continues to terrorize the globe, education has shifted to strictly virtual learning. Students all across the world are now out of the classroom and getting educated through online medium. One might even say, education has become one of the fields experiencing a massive `reset’ in the wake of the corona. How will this change affect the future of our learning? Can virtual medium perform as good as or even better than real institutions?
RISE OF E-LEARNING
Among man’s greatest inventions, connectivity has been the latest. The whole globe got connected through the internet in the mere span of a few years. The last era has witnessed a mind-blowing level of information exchange. Anyone can learn about anything. The distinction between knowledge and entertainment got very thin. Now we have enough resources for educating ourselves. We have even got to the point where schools are not even necessary for learning. There has never been a revolution of knowledge like in the past years.
This is only one face of virtual learning. Of course, we have not gained complete control over what we learn. And we still haven’t got to an education system without exams or home works. Here comes another face of e-learning as lakhs of students across the globe, isolated under quarantine, stay at their home, and take online classes. Teaching is undertaken through digital platforms, home works are given and exams are conducted.
E-LEARNING IS HERE TO STAY
One major advantage is the crossed-out need for commutation or building rent. Students and families don’t have to pay extra money for physically getting the child to school. Children can learn from the comforts of home. Another benefit is the quality of education. Researchers suggest that learning under comfortable environments can help retain more information and be more productive. Digitized education also requires fewer accessories than classroom learning. E-books are way less expensive than real books and most of the materials on the internet are already free. Apparently, digital literacy has many profound benefits and that can be implemented for our future learning system too.
But before we can say cost-effectiveness is a real thing, we need to consider a few more factors.
True. Under virtual learning students only has to pay for the internet and electricity now. But how about those who can’t afford that? We are not at a juncture to say broadband services are equal and of the best quality for all sections of populations. Digital equity is the main difficulty before us for efficient e-learning. Most families, especially in third world countries cannot own more than one computer at a home. The adults in the family must be working from home under lockdown too. Owning a computer or any sort of network device requires initial money. The first step in digital literacy is making sure everyone has access to the devices.
Connectivity is another issue. Telecom companies demand huge sums for internet connection at least in some parts of the world. Bandwidth and data efficiency can be low depending on the geography of a region. The Indian government has recently considered a proposal to bring internet services to every household in the country, especially in rural regions, with at least 25Mbps speed. Regarding cost, most cities in India don’t pay as much for the internet as some western countries.
Even though virtual learning has already transformed the face of our education system, we still need to pay a lot more attention and focus on implementing it properly. Everyone should benefit equally from this good change. Teachers should be trained to use the latest technology and tools, sections should be uninterrupted and of the best quality and there should be enough space for good communication. Of course, e-learning should enjoy all other prospects of classroom learning. There should be provision to make sure classes are conducted properly, the workload is not hectic and notifications are reached at everyone.
With proper execution, virtual learning can be even more effective than classroom learning. As for every other change, we need to keep an open mind and appropriate enthusiasm to welcome this new trend. E-learning will be another turning point for our global civilization, no doubt.