It is here to stay, so what can be done to improve it?
March 9, 2021 7 min read
The COVID-19-induced shutdown affected schooling and learning, including teaching and assessment methodologies. However, this gap was rapidly filled by e-learning as schools, colleges and educational institutions were quick to shift teaching and learning online. According to the Praxis-IVCA Education Report 2020, the education market in India is ~US$ 117B in size, with school and supplementary education accounting for >75% of the total market. While eLearning had been growing rapidly in recent years, India is now witnessing an e-learning boom since the pandemic emerged.
With people spending more time at home than ever before, digital learning has emerged as a necessary resource for education. The pandemic has transformed the old chalk-talk teaching model to one driven by technology. The number of those enrolling for virtual classes has witnessed an exponential rise and the trend is likely to stay. Open courses and distance learning enrolments in India to rise to around 10 million in 2021 growing at a CAGR of around ten per cent according to a KPMG and Google report. Policymakers are now looking to drive engagement at scale while ensuring inclusive eLearning solutions.
Online learning tools and platforms, with their customised offering, are addressing the challenges of access, quality, and constrained budgets. They are offering millions of students living in urban and rural areas an easy, affordable, and reliable way to learn. Yet it would be simplistic to assume that online education is progressing seamlessly. There is a lot that can be done to improve virtual coaching platforms and online education in terms of the connection between students and teachers like in physical classrooms.
The eLearning experience so far has thrown up some issues and directions for the future of online education. With reduced attention spans due to the closure of schools, eLearning needs to get more creative, to create more engaging and immersive content. The effort should be to take out the best of the school environment and improve upon it using the power of technology.
Visual aids have always been useful for better retention, hence, a greater application of concepts. Furthermore, when students learn through experiences, the learnings stay with them. Incorporating videos, simulations into the eLearning process bring an exciting flair to traditional education. This will bring about more personalized and agile learning. Learners would be able to hear and see the various concepts that are being taught and will process them in a similar way during everyday interactions. Further, they assist in the learning process, particularly the complex topics that demand a great level of understanding.
Technology brings an enormous opportunity to scale, automate, personalize, and innovate. It can be used to customise learning to learners’ level of interest, academic and social needs. Rich texts, images, videos, audios, and games bring fun, excitement, collaboration and a challenge to the learning experience. Learners who view online classes as education through edutainment continually set new learning goals for themselves. It also allows learners to learn at their own pace, revisiting the lesson as many times as they wish before moving on to the next stage.
Reality technologies such as augmented reality (AR) enable this. With EdTech catching on, these new-age technologies can be widely adopted to increase stickiness. It has been noted that learning intertwined with immersive storytelling and real-life examples increases retention of concepts by 90 percent!
The key trend of eLearning would include the need for up-skilling courses with curated and user-generated content, which has been in-demand with people learning and working remotely. This shall determine the most effective content that would match the student’s needs efficiently, resulting in positive user engagement and therefore, an optimal outcome. As technology develops, these new trends will also develop, but the pillars around which it will advance would be customized learning, accessibility, engagement, and user-centric learning. Accessibility with approximately 409 million internet users which is expected to grow to approximately 735 million by 2021 is further propelling this trend according to the KPMG & Google report.
The challenges of quality online learning will be overcome due to the inherent transparency of this medium and as eLearning makes further inroads into the education system, we can expect a blended learning model going forward with online live classes, doubt clearance assistance and test-prep becoming commonplace. Companies that enable teachers to be more efficient and engaging in the classroom rather than compete with them will be successful. With technology advancements and robust feedback mechanism, companies can establish self-paced and guided study experiences which can unlock the potential of students.
Virtual learning platforms must try to come as close as they can to the real-life experience of attending school to ensure continuity of students’ overall development. Ed-tech in India is a vast market which is growing every day; COVID-19 has only accelerated the adoption. So, the apt action for EdTech companies would be to not just prepare for the demands of the present, but also to gear up aggressively for that of the future by bringing learning alive.
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