Minal Anand is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at GuruQ, a unique and integrated digital tutoring platform that promises to bring high quality standards and new age methodologies to the way education is imparted in India. A graduate in Business Administration from the School of Management at Boston University, Minal had worked at companies like Franklin Templeton, Citigroup to gain relevant experience in business planning, fund raising, enterprise design and structuring, and talent management.
The year 2020 is going to be marked in history forever. Over 1.3 billion leaners worldwide were affected with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a country such as ours, 50 percent of the population is under the age of 25. The sudden closure of educational institutions has definitely affected this population substantially.
However, every cloud has a silver lining. India over the years has been presented with many challenges and has come back stronger every single time. A lot needs to be done to deliver quality education; many students have not faced a learning loss owing to technology as a great catalyst. The pandemic has marked the advent of ‘holistic learning’ for the learners in our country. The mainstream has now welcome online learning. For the ones who have access to right technology, online learning has proven effective in multiple ways.
Education today is not restricted to classroom with the teacher being the primary source of knowledge. Digital technology has reinvented learning, providing learners to an ocean of opportunities to learn what they want to learn, how they want to learn with just a few mouse clicks. Students today have access to countless resources at their disposal which allows them to exercise control and direct self-learning.
Let’s evaluate how digital platforms are ensuring quality education and a cohesive learning environment:
Easy Access to Information
Digital learning platforms allow access to a library of online resources. The software is designed in a manner that organizes information effectively making it accessible to all users. The learning material can be in form of courses, multimedia content, assignments and evaluation. With just a computer / tablet / mobile phone coupled with internet, students can access information anywhere and at any time. In addition, a lot of platforms allow the opportunity of downloading the content also owing to which the content is available for offline use also.
Relevant and update content
Physical books can’t be revised every semester and isn’t cost effective either. A digital learning platform allows the educational institutions to keep adding relevant content time to time to support the learning of the students. Once the software is developed, the cost of adding content is minimal. Students get access to a variety of learning videos, fun quizzes which overall makes the learning engaging. With digital learning platforms, you can create multimedia content to engage the learners, immerse them in activities, stimulate interest, bring alive abstract concepts, and provide context to learning.
While in a physical classroom, knowledge transfer is restricted to when the deliver happens; digital platforms allow one to pace their learning according to their own accord. If a student wants to learn at 9 pm, even after school timings are over, she is free to do so. Also, digital platforms encourage students to find their own answers without being directed by the teacher. Developing this habit helps them inculcate behaviours that are advantageous in their careers. During these timings where one has to reskill and upskill continuously, self-directed learning is a mandate.
Collaborative and inclusive education
Digital whiteboards, file sharing, virtual meeting applications, and chats facilitate collaborative learning between students. This mimics the real-time atmosphere of classrooms without having to meet physically; it also reinforces materials learned so that knowledge retention is higher. Many students feel more comfortable to voice their views and opinions in the digital medium over the physical medium. This ensures more inclusivity in the classroom. The student can also connect with the tutor one-on-one without having the fear of being ridiculed by others. The online education has also proven to be more collaborative in terms of students engaging more with each other to complete projects and assignments.
Schools will definitely be an important part of learning; however, teachers and students are realizing that some thing can be learnt better online. However, school will hold great value for a student to develop social skills, teamwork, and other important skills such as empathy which can only be learnt when you are in a group. Looking back at our school memories, we don’t reflect back on the study but the times we spent in the corridor with friends or playing sports in the ground.
The new normal is the blended form of learning which combines the best of both online and offline. Here, online learning tools will take care of the asynchronous elements for students whereas teachers and socialisation with fellow classmates will ensure students learn synchronously too. Ultimately, the education that a child will receive through this system will ensure their all-round, holistic development — something that is crucial in making a capable workforce and a developing country.