Online Education in Lockdown – Essay

COVID-19 has changed the ways of living, working, teaching & learning. Millions of students have been driven out of university campuses and the faculty is confined to their homes. This has forced the teaching community to look for alternatives to maintain the continuity in the teaching and learning process. The pandemic has forced all the teachers to Work from Home and to come up with innovative ways of imparting education.

  • More than 960 million students across the globe are looking towards their institutions for the way forward from the current ongoing challenges.
  • The lockdown has put the government on the tight rope leading the academic administrators in the country to plan a series of activities by the concerned ministry and various regulators including UGC, IGNOU, CBSE, NCERT, NIOS etc. to find alternatives to ensure the continuation of education.
  • Amidst this background, the department and regulators have started moving towards developing an online mode of education–as, hopefully, a viable alternative arrangement.

History of Satellite Education in India:

  • Radio and television broadcast has been extensively used for educational purposes for more than 75 years.
  • Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) was the largest communication experiment in the use of satellite in support of developmental and educational programmes in modern times.
  • The telecast via this satellite began in India from August 1, 1975. The instructional objectives of SITE were in the fields of education, agriculture, health and family planning and national integration.
  • Indian National Satellite (INSAT) was launched in 1977. The major objectives of INSAT were to produce and transmit varied programmes designed to inform, educate, entertain and enrich all sections of the people.
  • Gyan Darshan (GD) came into existence in January 2000. It is an exclusive and dedicated twenty- four hour educational and developmental TV channel of India.
  • Gyan Darshan has become completely digital in the span of fourth year on January 26, 2004. The primary target audiences of the channel are the students studying in undergraduate and postgraduate classes in universities and colleges.
  • On September 20, 2004, EDUSAT the dedicated satellite for education in India was launched by ISRO. It is the first Indian satellite exclusively built for the use of education sector.

Online learning during lockdown:

  • The use of Education Technology (ET)/Information & Communication Technology (ICT) in imparting education/learning is on the driver’s seat during the lockdown period globally.
  • It has become inevitable tool in reaching to students and all such people in imparting teaching & learning.
  • Internet is the most useful technology of modern times for educational purposes. Importance of internet in education goes without saying; it helps the students to research things, and relearn the content taught/ discussed in their classrooms.
  • For the effective education, mere access to internet information resources is not enough.
  • It is necessary to prepare the students beforehand to work with information or to provide those, who use the distance form of education with special tasks destined to develop intellectual skills of critical thinking, working with verbal texts, multimedia environment, to create all kinds of so-called secondary texts (abstracts, summaries, essays, etc.), to be able to work with information.
  • The usage of the information resources located in the Internet is not such a simple affair. It requires not only the ability to search for it in the huge ocean of the Internet, but to process it, to use it effectively for the cognitive goals.

Challenges:

  • As per one Report, India is the second-largest internet user in the world. However, as per the report of TRAI, only 34 per cent of the total population had access to the Internet in 2017.
  • The figure carries a vast gender disparity, where the ratio of male and female users is approx. 70 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
  • Rural-Urban Divide persists. Rural India accounts for just 25.3 per cent internet density compared to the 34 per cent of the urban population having around 98 per cent internet connectivity.
  • Also, the Indian youth are sometimes characterised by limited digital skills.
  • Providing equity in access of bandwidth and technology for remote learners is a major challenge.
  • Adequate numbers of trained manpower (both the content & technical experts) are needed.
  • The attitude of the facilitators, students as well as awareness of parents plays a significant role in ensuring that the desired objectives of online education are met.

Alternative to Online Education:

  • One alternative to online education may be the delivery of education via television.
  • Judicious mix of Open Educational Resources (OER) along with delivery of education via television/satellite should be explored as an option.
    • The 2012 OER Paris Deceleration provided the broader guidelines on how to make best use of OER.
  • The possibilities of replacement of books with e-content & e-book cannot be ruled out. In such a scenario, the days ahead are for the Open and Distance Learning institutions and dual mode universities besides for some of the new institutions.

Technology driven education with equity post-COVID:

Conclusion:

  • In order to address the challenges, it is essentially important to align the appropriate use of OER, SWAYAM platform and integrating e-library besides encouraging the faculty to create content for Social Media/ YouTube, contribute on MOOCS, develop Moodle Cloud contents, which is having four quadrant approaches for learning and assessments, etc.
  • It may take little time but the real tasks for the institutions begin in working on the selection of appropriate new media mix.
  • A well-researched Instructional Technology consisting of right packaging of learning content.
  • The challenges of the lockdown may become a blessing in disguise in accessing the potential and the capabilities of our institutions in responding to the future necessity of online learning.

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