A learning system based on formalized teaching but with the help of electronic resources is known as e-learning. Digital content and e-learning can bring entire teaching modules to the doorstep through smart devices, making it possible for students to continue working towards completing their education albeit they get down the trail of traditional learning. e-learning also can be termed as a network enabled transfer of skills and knowledge, and therefore the delivery of education is formed to an outsized number of recipients at the same or different times.

  • INTRODUCTION:

Access to online learning opportunities through remote classes, webinars and online academies can accord equal learning opportunities to students in metro cities as well as rural areas where skilled educators in one’s desired field of study might not be available.

With a boom in cheaper data and lot of electronic devices, this mode of learning proves especially effective in pursuit of higher education or career-oriented skills. Apart from educational purposes E-learning has also proved to be the best means especially in the corporate sector when training programs are conducted by MNCs for professionals across the planet and employees are ready to acquire important skills while sitting during a board room, or by having seminars, which are conducted for employees of the same or the various organizations under one roof. The faculties and corporate which use E-learning technologies, are a step ahead of those which still have the traditional approach towards learning.

E learning

Deploying a totally featured eLearning solution is cheaper than hiring one or more instructors and renting some classrooms, or paying the travel costs for your staff to attend a seminar. Hence, also proves to be cost effective in some ways.

Traditional education systems are slowly losing their relevance as both students and educators are embracing what e-learning offers – convenience, personalization, and agility. Merging education with technology has opened new gateways in terms of reach, quality, and awareness. The rapid increase of strong internet ecosystem has been a crucial catalyst for the expansion of e-learning platform within the country. Other prominent factors like Government initiatives, multitude of local and global players is assisting e-learning make further inroads. The education sector is witnessing a paradigm shift from one-size fits- all factory approach, to a way more agile and tailored form of learning. Innovations like e-books, e-content, e-learning technologies have introduced a plethora of developments in the existing teaching methodologies.

  • An era of eLearning:

While the first computerized training courses were developed in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the arrival of the internet that the eLearning industry took off. One of the pioneers in the space was the Open University, which wanted to seek out ways of using the World Wide Web and computers to provide remote learning experiences. The Open University imagined a world during which you’ll craft learning experiences in software (tailored to your specific needs) and then sell them over the internet for a fee. However, early attempts mostly fell flat because most of their customers did not have home computers. By the 1980s, Apple had released the Mac and PCs were finally finding their way into homes and company offices. Suddenly, there was a chance to use computers to deliver training materials. By the late 1990s, some companies and academic institutions were offering courses online, and therefore the modern era of eLearning had begun. Distance learning suddenly became a real possibility because of the novel cost declines that internet-enabled learning delivered. The 2000s saw an explosion in companies using eLearning to train their employees. Suddenly, firms were ready to provide onboarding courses for new employees and provide top-ups for those who had been with the firm for a lot longer, all at low cost. Employees could take their training home with them or do it at the office. eLearning gave both managers and employees much-needed flexibility.

  • Current COVID-19 Scenario:

The ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) threat continues to loom large, claiming more than 85,000 lives globally as per the data collected on April 08, 2020. With the World Health Organization declaring it a pandemic, the Central and state governments of India have stepped up their combat efforts by issuing a directive to restrict public gatherings, ordering the temporary shutdown of malls, cinema, gymnasium and educational institutions (except those conducting examination) resulting into complete lockdown, till further notice. A UNESCO report estimates that the coronavirus pandemic will adversely impact over 290 million students across 22 countries.

In a matter of weeks, coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed how students are educated around the world. Those changes give us a glimpse at how education could change for the better – and the worse – in the long term. With the coronavirus spreading rapidly across the world, countries have taken swift and decisive actions to mitigate the development of a full-blown pandemic. In the past few weeks, there are multiple announcements suspending attendance at schools and universities. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated that more than 421 million children are affected due to school closures announced or implemented in 39 countries. Additionally many countries have announced partial or complete lockdown. These risk-control decisions have led many students into temporary ‘home-schooling’ situations, especially in some of the most heavily impacted countries, like China, South Korea, Italy, India, United States and Iran.

  • Digital Learning in India:

From ancient Bharat to modern India, education has always occupied a place of prominence in Indian history. In ancient times, Nalanda, Taxila and Vikramsila universities were renowned seats of higher learning, attracting students not only from all over the country but from faraway countries like Korea, China, Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Tibet and Nepal. Today, India manages one of the largest higher education systems in the world.

Digital India and Skill India are among the several government initiatives launched to spread digital literacy in India. Clearly, the government initiatives go a long way in reaping benefits of online education. According to KPMG India and Google, the major drivers for online/blended education in India include:

(a) Phenomenal growth in Internet and smartphone penetration;

(b) Low cost of online education;

(c) Digital-friendly government policies; and

(d) Escalating demand by working professionals and job-seekers for continuing education

During the COVID-19 outbreak in the entire nation, the country is facing major crisis in every sector. And this time one of the worst hit sectors is the education sector, as most of the exams have been cancelled during the final assessments. To ensure that there is no hiatus in the education and students get full-access to classes like before, Human Resource Department (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal advised students to carry on with their studies using the digital learning platforms. The digital learning portals help the students not only get full access to the study material but also allows them to engage in online classes and interact with the teachers like the physical classroom setting.

Here is a list of some excellent digital initiatives launched by Ministry of HRD for school students and even those seeking UG and PG level education:

  • SCHOOL EDUCATION

DIKSHA:

Diksha has more than 80,000 e-Books for classes I to XII created by CBSE, NCERT and States / UT which are available in multiple languages. The contents can also be viewed through QR codes on textbooks. The app are often downloaded from IOS and Google Play Store.

e-PATHSHALA:

In this web portal NCERT has deployed 1886 audios, 2000 videos, 696 e-Books (e- Pubs) and 504 Flip Books for classes I to XII in several languages. Mobile Apps is out there.

National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER):

NROER portal has a total of 14527 files including 401 collections, 2779 documents, 1345 interactive, 1664 audios, 2586 images and 6153 videos on different languages.

  • HIGHER EDUCATION

SWAYAM:

SWAYAM is the national online education platform hosting 1900 courses covering both school (classes IX to XII) and higher education (under graduate, post graduate programs) in all subjects including engineering, humanities and social sciences, law and management courses. A unique feature of SWAYAM is that, it’s integrated with the traditional education. Credit transfers are possible for SWAYAM courses (max. 20%).

SWAYAM PRABHA:

SWAYAM Prabha has 32 DTH TV channels transmitting educational contents on 24 x 7 basis. These channels are available for viewing all across the country using DD Free Dish Set Top Box and Antenna. The channel schedule and other details are available in the portal. The channels cover both school education (classes IX to XII) and higher education (undergraduate, postgraduate, engineering Out-of-school children, vocational courses and teacher training) in arts, science, commerce, performing arts, social sciences and humanities subjects, engineering, technology, law, medicine, agriculture.

Here are few of the points which will clearly depict the image of how digital education is fixing education system in India:

  • Distance education beyond boundaries:

Technology has made it possible for students who fall off the traditional path to leap back on and finish what they spent most of their childhood working towards. This may be in the form of taking remote classes from home, remedial classes in on-campus computer labs or even by enrolling in full-time online schools, public or private.

  • Flexible learning environment:

A student who needs extra assistance on a specific topic need not hold up the entire class, or feel embarrassed asking for that help, when there are computer modules and tablet apps available for individual learning experiences. Teachers who spot a trouble area with a specific student can gear that teen towards more exercises to master the topic. Of course, technology isn’t the magic wand to fix all problems, but it does leave more flexibility of the learning process.

Many schools now accompany a TV or a projector attached to their whiteboard where it’s easy to shift from a normal classroom session to an interactive digital session. This can make students pay more attention as we are now in the digital era where Google is our go-to place.

  • Field trips turned to Online Webinars:

If a school does not have the resources to send students on field trips, they can opt for web seminars associated with their course work. Conducting online seminars and webinars, enabling all students to engage in commenting and participating in questionnaires can help them stay alert. It’s very vital that students engage in seminars and the lectures involve two-way communication.

NASA is known to offer a program for students wherein they will ask to astronauts in space using such web seminars. This hybrid, collaborative online learning experience is broadly changing the aspects of education in India.

  • Usage of VR and AR for learning

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are already buzzwords in the technology space. Their advent in e-learning has massively impacted the efficiency with which it is offered to students and the way it assesses their performance. VR allows students using e-learning platforms on mobile devices to directly interact with study material. This keeps their engagement levels high and motivates them.

  • Globalized learning, maximized exposure

With the internet, it has become possible for students to communicate with students from other parts of the world. This makes it really easy to learn foreign languages and expand the exposure of young minds. Video conferencing is a boon to students who want to communicate or meet with their global counterparts.

Today, India is one of the world’s top destinations for education. Where the pedagogy is all about the smart boards where teachers can drag and drop shapes, bring in online calculators on the board, measure with AR tools and voice out the text they want to see on the board. It is time to collaborate teaching methodology with technology and make education and classroom sessions livelier and more interesting!

  • Pros and cons of digital & online learning:

Children with learning disabilities seldom attend school. World Health Survey reports that working adults with disabilities had a lesser than 33% chance of having completed primary school. This is mainly because of the school buildings which do not facilitates enough to the disabled. The other reason includes the parent’s monetary concerns. Online learning has been a boon to these children and it has helped them study better.

While learning online is very convenient and flexible, but it surely has its pros and cons as listed below:

  • Pros of Online Learning

Online courses are not costly:

The first feature of online learning is that you will find it affordable. A nine week intensive program at the coder camps costs you around $10000. It is the amount that is not even the half of the cost of college, which may be around $80000 for four years. A self-paced online course, free tutorials or massive open online courses (MOOCs) even more easily affordable. Furthermore, more than 90% Coder Camps graduates got a job within 90 days. You can expect the same as well.

This Method is Time-efficient:

The main reason for investing in online learning is that it helps in saving tons of time of students as well as teachers. With the assistance of a virtual classroom, homework, assignments, syllabus, marks sheet, everything are often updated within seconds. This results in the formation of a paperless network that’s healthy for the environment too. Through online learning, students can easily learn through logging in to their portal. They do not actually have to show up to the classrooms to learn something. This is often why online learning may be a time-efficient approach which helps in providing a far better learning experience with a minimum waste of time.

Students Stay Committed:

Online learning has significantly increased the extent of engagement within students. This is mainly because the students have more time on themselves to learn about a particular subject. Virtual learning platforms give full authority to the students to study from anywhere at any given time. Even if the online classes are scheduled beforehand, this still gives students the motivation to make time for learning. This has helped in increasing the retention rates of students and encouraging them to be more committed to studies.

Online Learning is Healthy for the Environment:

Not just learning courses online is effective for students and teachers; it is also healthier for the environment. There’s less noise and air pollution because everyone stays indoor and study online. Nobody has to build any more educational institutes, now that everything is done online and this leads to a reduction in pollution.

It is a convenient and flexible method to learn:

Online education is for the people of all ages. You don’t need to worry if you’re stuck in work or another commitments. You can learn online at the time you wish. An online course requires around 10-20 hours a week according to its intensity. It enables you to give ample time to your job and other commitments. Another thing you will find amazing about online learning is that you can take the classes from your home. You also get to do practicals in the online learning to polish and development job related skills. It may not be possible in on campus learning. There you have to learn other subjects along with the main ones. It may lead to you grasping the main subjects properly.

You can learn digital skills best through online courses:

Lots of adults seek to learn digital skills like SEO, SEM, and Content Marketing. You may not be able to give ample time to take traditional classes to learn these skills. You may find the finest tutors online to learn these skills. They can teach you all of it from the comfort of your home or in the hectic hours of work.

You learn the updated things:

In the traditional class, it is obvious that some new updates on a course will take a while to succeed on it. The case is not same when it involves online education.
For instance, many tutorials on the Internet that can help you learn a new app or programming language. It makes the online method of learning updated.

  • Cons of Online learning

Given below are some of the demerits or disadvantages of online classes.

You can’t be sure of the online courses being accredited:

One of the premier disadvantages of online education is that the concerned authorities do not accredit some of the online courses. If you don’t get a degree from an accredited university, then it would be a waste of effort. Your skills will also not improve and you may not get a job in the field of your specialization.

Lack of face to face interaction:

It is right that you may connect with your tutor via video conferencing. However, it may not be the same in many online learning courses and you may be in touch with your tutor via chat only. Thus, it may get it tough for you to understand some of things that you can learn well in the on the campus learning.

You have to self-dependent while doing the tasks:

Online education provides you with many conveniences and adaptability. However, you have to be ready to do all the study and attempt the assignments yourself. You get to spend much time with your tutors while learning online. You may not have friends with you to help with the assignment writing. That makes it a must for your work hard if you want to study online.

You have to learn self-regulation and self-direction:

In the traditional learning, you can find teachers and friends to guide you when it comes to doing some academic tasks, taking a decision career and in being disciplined.

  • Global initiatives for eLearning:

The eLearning industry continues to expand, offering an ever-increasing array of eLearning tools to companies, government bodies, and individuals. The reach of eLearning today is greater than ever with the most rapid growth in emerging economies trying to close the education gap. The combination of low cost, high convenience, and accessibility are transforming eLearning into the predominant global educating force of the 21st century.

  • Global purview of online education:

United States of America (USA)

The growth of online enrollments in the U.S. has increased for the consecutively irrespective of an expanding or shrinking economy and rising or declining overall college enrollments. At the same time, the number of students exclusively taking face-to-face classes on a brick and mortar campus has been dropping. Continued growth of online programs, especially for business education, seems to be on the horizon in the next five years. Surprisingly, over half the students that took at least one online class also took a course on campus, and students not physically present in the U.S. who enrolled in U.S. online degree programs were only 1 percent of all students taking online classes. This implies that the majority of online programs are not currently attracting students who live far from the university.

Asia and Middle East

China explored course design based on pedagogical, psychological, social, and technological perspectives and found it to be more flexible and useful. The major initiatives to promote e-learning in Saudi Arabia were collaborations with institutions of higher learning, improving quality standard, and developing rules and regulations for governing e-learning.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

UNESCO is spearheading the education for the global citizenship program that aims at equipping learners of all ages with values, knowledge and skills that are based on and instill respect for human rights, social justice, diversity, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. By its visionary doctrine and inspiring practice UNESCO helps giving tangibility to imagination about the future of e-learning at the local, national and global levels.

  • Conclusion:

To sum up, it can be said that digital education is the future for India which will take the country to a new pedestal of socio-economic growth and prosperity. e-Education is getting traction in almost all parts of the world and is here to stay worldwide. Eventually, globalization of e-Learning is sure to happen, just as we have witnessed globalization of e-mail, e-commerce, and e-government. The reasons mentioned lead to the conclusion of how productive online learning can be for everybody. Online learning is certainly something to invest in, and it should be promoted nonetheless. Literally, there’s nothing to lose with online learning, and educational institutes need to realize this as soon as possible. So do not hesitate to invest in online learning as it is everything you should be doing to learn more in 2020.

  • Bibliography:

www.nirfindia.org/Home
www.prsindia.org
www.ugc.ac.in
www.indiatoday.in
www.insidehighered.com/news/news-sections/online-and-blended-learning
www.swavamprabha.qov.in

Jaya Sharma And Neha

Jaya Sharma-Singhania
Founder- Jaya Sharma & Associates
jaya@jsa-cs.com
Neha Vaishya
Associate
Jaya Sharma & Associates
bodha@jsa-cs.com

Disclaimer: Absolute Care is taken to prepare this article however inadvertently if any errors occur then the Author shall not be held responsible for any such cause. The Content published is only for educational purpose and shall not be construed as rendering of any Professional Advice in any manner whatsoever. The Readers must exercise their own Judgement and refer the original source before any implementation. Further the content is an original work of the author and may be used only after written permission.

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