The last couple of years have seen a completely new approach by the Indian government towards digital education. It is putting an enormous amount of resources and money into the e-learning sector at all levels. From K12 to higher education to technical fields, the human resource development (HRD) ministry has taken a leading role in making sure that students have access to a huge variety of online resources.
You might be wondering about this sudden increase in activity in the e-learning space!
The massive increase in online activities and the extension of broadband internet infrastructure has pulled a vast number of people across the country into the online space. Currently, India has over 460 million Internet users. This, combined with the current government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative, has finally triggered a long-awaited revolution in the e-learning sector in India.
This year, four major digital learning initiatives were launched – Swayam (a massive open online course targeting school children), Swayam Prabha (multilingual K12 educational content delivered through the TV), National Academic Depository (a repository for all certificates and awards) and National Digital Library (a free-to-use online library). These join a long list of already-existing government initiatives aimed at energising the entire online education system of the country.
Higher education is the sector that can benefit the most from online learning. The dearth of traditional educational infrastructure after school is motivating millions of young students and professionals to seek knowledge in the virtual world.
Despite this massive shift, online degrees are not recognised by regulators in India. But now, finally, the HRD ministry has tasked the University Grants Commission (UGC) to chart an online education policy to integrate higher education e-learning into the mainstream.
Governments have more resources (monetary and human) than any private institution. The first and most obvious advantage of governmental support is better nationwide infrastructure – in this particular case, the expansion of internet infrastructure outside urban areas.
Apart from infrastructure, both learners and ed-tech firms will benefit from the standardisation of course curriculum and the associated recognition that comes with it. As of now, online firms can only offer diplomas, albeit from very reputed institutions, with attendance certificates – such as the ones by Talentedge, which has partnered with world-renowned institutions such as the IIMs, XLRI and MICA to deliver high-quality e-learning courses through their online platform.
The opportunity to offer government-recognised degrees will greatly enhance the credibility of digital learning as a whole – thereby making it a part of the mainstream educational sector, which is a win-win situation for all sides.
Naturally, the biggest gain is for the students of the country. Being able to access government-recognised courses online will instantly do away with the fierce competition and struggle for seats that often puts quality education beyond the reach of a large majority of students. The scalable nature of online learning will be able to accommodate a much larger number of students, providing everyone access to the same quality of education.
The online nature of education also ensures that there is ample flexibility and personalisation in the teaching methodology to accommodate the pace of individual learners. This will allow students to avail some of the advantages e-learning has over traditional, time-bound, physical classrooms.
It can also be hoped that government regulations will keep the cost of online education in check and keep the certification process transparent.
India will add close to 115 million working-age people to its economy in the coming decade. To make these millions of youngsters ready to join the nation’s workforce, the government cannot stretch the ‘seating capacity’ of the existing infrastructure. Digital learning, in my opinion, is the only way to meet this upcoming demand.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.