The sudden shift to online learning

Worldwide there are currently more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries affected by school closures due to the pandemic. The indefinite closure of schools created a learning vacuum for students. In a bid to ensure continuity in learning, many states began online classes. In May, the Centre launched “e-Vidya”, a campaign to unify digital/online/on-air education efforts. Private players also joined the effort.
The sudden shift to online learning without any planning -- especially in countries like India where the backbone for online learning was not ready and the curriculum was not designed for such a format -- has created the risk of most of our students becoming passive learners and they seem to be losing interest due to low levels of attention span.
According to a report, the online education market is expected to reach INR 360.3 billion by 2024. Ease of learning, flexibility, and a wide range of study materials have influenced the overall growth of the industry. In fact, India’s e-learning market is the second largest after America. The online education is India evolving at a swift pace owing to the growth in internet and smartphone penetration. The number of internet users is expected to reach 730 million by the end of 2020. India may replace China to have the second-largest users after America.
Online learning is a special kind of methodology and not all teachers are good at it or at least not all of them were ready for this sudden transition from face to face learning to online learning. Thus, most of the teachers are just conducting lectures on video platforms such as Zoom which may not be real online learning in the absence of a dedicated online platform specifically designed for the purpose.
There are side-effects of online learning. Online classes don't offer the same immediate and regular access to instructors and classmates as traditional face-to-face classes. The communication typically takes place through e-mail and in virtual discussion forums. While this can aid in learning technology, it negatively impacts a student's ability to interact with professors, ask questions, and get immediate help. It also takes away from some of the social and team-building that occurs informally in college classrooms. We are now beginning to realize that online learning could be dull as it is creating a new set of passive learners which can pose new challenges.

- Prabhakar Purandare

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