Digital Learning: A New Normal?

Loknath Das

The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted routine life all around the world. Extended lockdowns and other regulations that are in place have kept schools and colleges closed since mid-March. Since then, many colleges in India and abroad have moved to digital classrooms. The aim is to allow students to keep in touch with their learning, even from a different region. Remote access to education seems to be revolutionising teaching and learning altogether.

Amidst this, one concern comes to mind- how many students in India have an access to computers and internet connection? If education moves digital, India may be unprepared for such a transition. There are various aspects to consider for students who wish to access overseas learning from their home. These mainly include accessibility and affordability.

Given below are some facets that will determine India’s role in a digital classroom.
1. Access to the Internet and Computers
India is an emerging market for various goods and services. However, when it comes to network connectivity, there is disparity. Access to technology reflects social classification. Rural areas have reduced access to the internet compared to urban areas. Similarly, studies suggest that gender also has a role to play with men having more access. With such gaps in the availability of computers and the internet, if education is purely digital, many students will be left behind. Even though there is growth in the use of smartphones, assignments and projects cannot be completed on such devices. What is needed is far-reaching access to electricity, computers and internet connection.

2. Affordability
For students hoping to study abroad, they can avail fellowships, aids and scholarships. The same may not be possible if the internet remains expensive for a larger population. During the pandemic, many service providers have made available network connections for cheaper rates and even free of cost. Once the crisis passes, the temporary price changes will also be revised. Making the internet accessible to more people will not solve the problem, it must be affordable as well. We must also consider the cost of training teachers all across the country to teach courses online. The transition will be a long process as both teachers and students will have to learn the platforms first.

3. Scalable
India has scalable prospects for digital education. The lockdown has pushed the restrictions of the need for physical proximity when it comes to learning. It is due to compulsion but signals growth and progress. A student in India will be able to take courses from the Ivy Leagues. Over time, digital learning will also become more acceptable. The shifting trend will give online learning the respect it deserves. For India, which sees more students going abroad to study every year, the scalable nature of digital education spells good news.

4. Traditional Classrooms are Here to Stay
Despite the move to online classes, traditional physical classrooms will remain. Schools provide peer-to-peer learning and socialisation of students. Moreover, with parents going to work, schools will take on the responsibility of personality development as well. Digital courses will teach the content of a subject, and the professor will teach manners and social etiquette. Eventually, both mediums will coexist to provide holistic education to students.

The future of education might see a revolution and India needs to prepare for it. For students who wish to study abroad, the changes will bring an abundance of opportunities to learn and build their profile. Start today and prepare to make your dreams come true.

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