Rustom Kerawalla, Chairman, Ampersand Group

Rustom Kerawalla is a renowned educationist, an EdTech entrepreneur, and a veteran expert in the global and Indian education policy landscape. He has over three decades of experience in working with diverse policymakers and government institutions. Recently, he was included as part of the Confederation of Indian Industry Western Region’s Task Force on Education. Ampersand Group is one of the leading organizations for providing end-to-end school management solutions to private institutions, government-operated institutions, public-private partnership projects across India, and Africa. Kerawalla has also established VIBGYOR Group of Schools which has 39 branches across 14 cities in India.

 

India’s uneven experience with remote online-based learning this year may have made many people question the idea of a tech-based education future. Parents are exhausted, students are bored, and India’s digital divide, with the rural population far less likely than the urban population to own a computer or have access to high-speed Internet, threatens to exacerbate learning inequities.

However, with many more cutting-edge technologies on the anvil, there is still a huge potential in online learning to both improve education and reduce inequalities.

In fact, technology can engage students by allowing them to pursue their own interests, regardless of the resources or capabilities of their particular school. With the usage of augmented and virtual reality, gaming, and other formats, students can gain an overall enhanced learning experience.

The right technology can give a student access to the vast amount of information that’s available. It gives them access to a wider world. This sort of technology can disrupt the traditional model of ‘sitting in a room full of chairs with educator standing at the front talking to you’. And it can be available to students with the technology they have. Moreover, technology can also boost equality when it comes to providing educational opportunities outside the premises of a school.

Education is no more the reserve of those with resources. With online classes, distance doesn’t matter for a learner. Similarly, some students simply learn better when they have time to peruse the material themselves outside of a classroom environment. This is just one of the many benefits that online education has to offer.

Traditional Teaching Versus Online Education

Among the various benefits of online learning is the potential for a greater variety that can be made available for students. Traditional teaching is limited by the availability of their faculty to provide particular classes at certain time durations. With online learning, teachers can teach from anywhere at any time – they can even design the entire course ahead of time and simply post it online for students to access at their convenience.

Greater Flexibility is More than a Buzzword

Online learning is presented in a very different way from traditional classroom teaching methods. In many cases, teachers for online courses prepare their weekly teaching material and then make it available to students online. It is possible for students then to access with the flexibility of time and work through study materials at their own pace.

An Array of Options in Multimedia

With respect to online education, learning material can be presented in several different ways. Though the course may not take place in a traditional classroom setting, the educator can still record a video of an actual session and make it available to students. The educator can also give access to students to various supplementary resources like additional online videos, PowerPoint presentations, websites and e-books, among others. It is possible to use or reference these resources in a physical classroom setting, but with online learning, all of these resources can be made available in a single location for easy access.

Moreover, traditional learning requires a student to sit in a classroom for instruction. With online education, a learner can learn from any place that has an Internet connection.

The Roadmap Ahead

While online education offers a great many benefits, it may not be right for every student. Online learning requires a great deal of self-discipline for the student and remains one of the key challenges in terms of imparting knowledge in this tech-enabled remote learning format.

Furthermore, non-cognitive skills that are strong predictors of educational performance are likely to influence the success of online teaching. Ability to self-motivate, attitudes towards learning and self-beliefs have all been shown to be important determinants of educational achievement.

Therefore, the future of education is going to be hybrid. Teachers, parents, and children will use a combination of in-person and online resources. The mix will depend on the subject, the children and the particular availability of resources.

 

More About Rustom Kerawalla

The non-profit trusts guided by Rustom Kerawalla Foundation have enabled the transformation of hundreds of Balwadis and Anganwadis across Maharashtra. Recently, they have successfully conducted an online Teacher Training program under the Samagra Shiksha program with the Government of Jammu & Kashmir. Besides these, they regularly engage with various Central Tibetan School Administration, Adarsh Schools in Punjab and Tribal Development Department in Thane, Maharashtra for Teacher Training, amplification of digital technology, and other school management services. The Group is also gearing up to commence several projects with the Tamil Nadu Government for development & up-gradation of Anganwadis.

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