The challenges of online education for teachers and students
The pandemic has, among a plethora of other things, disrupted learning and teaching practices and procedures at all levels across the world. Such a disruption, however, has significantly boosted the online education market which has shown an exceptional rate of growth.
Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown have forced schools, colleges and universities to stop all regular face-to-face educational interactions between teachers and students. They had to switch literally overnight to the online-only learning-teaching model. This involved not only mastering teachers and students in fairly unfamiliar skill sets, but also a targeted alleviation of infrastructural limitations such as poor connectivity and low-end devices, revealing several inherent inadequacies in the existing education system.
Developments beneficial to the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) – such as increased penetration of the Internet, a focus on the appropriate skills of the national workforce and strengthening of the The country’s digital infrastructure for education – had already sparked some growth in the Indian educational technology (edtech) sector. COVID-induced home confinement has dramatically increased demand for online education as educational institutions as well as affluent individual families have been forced to plan for the use of information technology and multimedia education to facilitate quality learning experiences for students.
In India, edtech start-ups emerged in 2020 as the segment with the highest amount of funding that received – in the first nine months of the year – valued venture capital (VC) investments. US $ 1.5 billion, compared to US $ 409 million for all of 2019. According to authentic research, the ongoing pandemic has triggered a 3-5% increase in free audiences and a 50-100% growth monthly income from several edtech companies. Such growth shows that for global and national venture capital and private equity firms, the most preferred segment is undoubtedly edtech.
According to reliable reports, India’s K-12 online education is expected to grow into a $ 1.7 billion market by 2022 with 6.3 times growth. Initially, the edtech sphere mainly focused on the K-12 segment. Now, however, the post-K12 market as well – which is primarily digital medium for college and university courses, competition preparation, and corporate training in addition to a few other components – is expected to grow 3.7x to reach US $ 1.8. billion. The entire Indian edtech market appears poised to reach $ 3.5 billion by 2022.
India’s digital education industry is opening up to new innovative ways of learning and teaching and experiencing massive growth in the number of users. However, the very sudden closure of educational institutions and the rather hasty pressure to move from face-to-face offline education to a generally unknown and untested form of digital online education has posed some significant challenges for students. teachers and students.
Some of the challenges teachers face
Lack of technical knowledge: Most teachers are neither familiar with nor trained in the successful use of online digital education tools, processes and methodologies. Teachers, especially in Tier II and Tier III cities, face considerable challenges in accommodating the demands of online education and conducting meaningful virtual classrooms. In fact, the majority of teachers lack basic computer skills and exposure to effective online teaching techniques. More often than not, conscientious teachers try to overcome these problems through their own trial and error approaches and with the help of some of the relevant and free teacher training resources available on the net.
Limited access to relevant study material: Untrained teachers are constrained not only by inadequate technical skills, but also by insufficient skills and exposure to procedures for accessing relevant digital course material. Not only that, they have no choice but to acquire, on their own, the know-how of curating course content, breaking that content down into appropriate lessons, converting lessons. in electronic formats – using applications such as PPT, Excel sheets, relevant video recordings as well as graphics and animations – and present them to students as stimulating study material. It is commendable that many teachers are training themselves to use open resources to put material online.
Insufficient discipline control: The main goal of the teacher is to facilitate quality learning among students by focusing on the discipline needed to learn with and among others. Classroom instruction is arguably best suited to maintaining discipline and implementing commonly accepted rules for a safe and secure learning environment. In virtual classrooms, however, with teachers not having real eye contact with students and students not having to conform to notions of learning with and among their peers, it becomes difficult for teachers to maintain focus. discipline and monitor learning without distraction. For effective online learning at home, it is imperative that parents or other family members take responsibility for providing students with an appropriate learning environment.
The problem of keeping students engaged: Making online courses really interesting and engaging for students is certainly quite difficult for teachers. The effective use of digital multimedia tools to grab the attention of generally inattentive students is the only solution that could turn students into independent learners. However, for this transformation to occur, teachers must undergo rigorous professional training, which is not currently the case.
The difficulty of monitoring student progress: When students are learning at a distance, it is very difficult for teachers to have the kind of personal interactions with their students that in regular face-to-face classes has helped them identify students who were late. or who lacked interest or who were simply slack. their subjects and initiate corrective actions. Although teachers perform various assessments to verify the standards achieved by students through online learning, there is sometimes reason to suspect that the affected student did not actually take the relevant test. In fact, there are plenty of ways to block online lessons while making the teacher understand that class attendance is 100%. As teachers have to devote a considerable amount of time to creating their lessons and study materials, they have virtually no opportunity to engage with students beyond the scheduled time for lessons and give them a appropriate feedback. Teachers are often concerned about the very credibility of their students’ progress monitoring processes.
Some difficulties encountered by students
Numeric fraction: Despite the continued increase in Internet penetration and the exceptional growth in the IT field in India, the unfortunate divide between the âhavesâ and the âhave-notsâ remains intact. Disadvantaged families cannot afford virtual schooling for their children who constitute the vast majority of the student population without even having access to the basic necessities of digital education. They don’t own or know anything about computers, cell phones, or even Internet connections. At the same time, there are children from wealthy families who are well exposed and beneficiaries of the so-called digital revolution. This divide is known as the “digital divide” between the “haves” and “haves” of the new age. However, it is good that Indian state and union governments have realized that there can be no social improvement without providing online education to economically weaker sections. Several government agencies, as well as NGOs, are doing a remarkable job to make this happen.
Lack of digital culture: While kids from affluent families become truly tech savvy, many students on the other side of the divide are not tech savvy at all. These underprivileged children have no exposure or knowledge of things like how to log in or participate in live online classes or submit homework online. Even the use of basic Word and Excel programs seems difficult for these students. They should be equipped with basic knowledge and exposure to computer operation. Fortunately, governments and other organizations are doing a good job of achieving this goal.
Sudden transition difficulties: The sudden shift from offline face-to-face learning to digital online learning has affected students in several negative ways. Face-to-face learning at school was primarily a social experience involving teachers, peers and others. Adapting to online learning needs in isolation without any real interaction with one of the learning partners – classmates, teachers and other members of the school community – is proving difficult for students. Man is too social an animal to lead a solitary life. Students, accustomed to learning in the company of others, are often unable to make the adjustments required for the isolated online schooling model.
The education system in this country is moving more and more towards the blended learning model in the post-COVID world. Blended learning integrates the best of offline and online education to provide learners with the best kind of learning experience possible. We must also overcome the constraints of the digital divide. Government and edtech companies must work together to find better-optimized solutions that address these challenges.