The acceptance of online classes seems to be very difficult to overcome for a few decades now. However, the pandemic forced schools and universities across the country to adjust to online classes for an accessible education and rethink the current framework. In a bid to overcome this, the most recent NEP 2020 released a policy on how to overcome difficulties with online classes with the foresight of transforming education in India by 2040.
Before we discuss how to overcome difficulties associated with online classes in India, it is imperative to highlight key areas that have been contributing to these difficulties:
Many teachers are caught up in the “chalk and board” system, and as a result, are not familiar with online classes. We have seen a willingness from teachers to embrace technology in a big way during Covid-19 and it is rapidly growing with hybrid learning being the future of education.
From Ookla global index speed test, the mobile data speed in India currently ranks at 129th in the world. With rapid digitization and acceleration of 4G adoption along with budget-friendly smartphones, education is being democratized and is a key equalizer between different segments from a poor to a remote village or an urban centre.
This can be termed as the major obstacle for adapting to online classes. The low-income households can often not afford to spend on technological aide such as laptops, broadband, smartphones and simultaneously continue to shell the data cost.
The reality of stable and quality online classes in India begins with training the teachers with online learning tools and platforms. They need to be updated with additional skills on how online classes work so that they can manage online platforms by themselves. The training should be structured for the betterment of teacher-student engagement through online resources, and startups like Learnpod promises to offer unlimited training hours to the teachers as required so that technology is no more a barrier for them to educate their students.
A parastatal with the sole aim of fostering digital learning should be established by the Indian Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD). This parastatal will be tasked with monitoring the needs of online learning in schools as well as tertiary education. It should be made up of professionals from the discipline of digital pedagogy, e-governance, educational technology, and IT. They will work diligently to ensure that high-quality education is delivered to the students.
Online learning can also use television which is viewed by the majority of the population in India. A typical example of TV education is Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) which uses Victers Channel under the name First Bell to hold classes for grades 1 to 12. To make it easier, the channel was made available for free on cable networks, local television stations, and the Internet. The Indian Government can look into the television and radio aspect because it seems to be an easy and widely accessible solution.
Many cities across states in India still make use of 2G and 3G networks, while those with a 4G network are not stable. Statistics of general availability doesn’t seem good for major mobile operators as there are only 1.3 fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 people, and therefore, internet access is critical and calls for improvement.
As much as online classes are necessary, hybrid models of face-to-face learning and virtual classes are definitely the future of modern education. With the introduction of innovative educational platforms, traditional modes of learning are set to become more blended with a lot of focus on making the entire educational experience easier and more effective for both students and teachers.