The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted our lives in ways that have never been imagined before. From health, hospitality to education, every sector is bearing a share of their own load. Schools and colleges have been shut down that has undoubtedly affected the course of syllabus completion for children. However, what never was a mainstream in Indian education space is proving to be a major relief today – online learning.
Many schools have started leveraging meeting platforms with videoconferencing features in order to deliver classes online. These platforms offer equal opportunity to both schools and students to deliver lessons, raise doubts and assign home works. However, while this has been largely adopted in the urban areas where affluent schools are located, low-income students and those living in the rural parts of the country fall behind. This is because, to hold online classes, seamless internet connectivity is required which is something that is hard to come by in the hinterlands.
Moreover, accessibility to online classes require smart devices like laptop, desktop or mobile phones and add to that a separate study room with quiet spaces. While these may be an everyday use for relatively wealthy people, for students from poor economic background, these are the luxury they can’t afford. Living in compact spaces with joint families, getting a special room allocated for study purpose remains out of the question.
While ed-tech companies are doing their best way possible to help students and educational institutions to leave the ‘learning’ part uncompromised despite the nationwide lockdown, apparently, the focus has been largely in the urban areas. With that said, isn’t it crucial to address the accessibility challenges first? Additionally, Non-English medium schools and colleges should also be taken into consideration and therefore, e-learning apps should roll out learning contents in English as well as vernacular languages. Since many teachers are also not used to looking at the camera and conducting classes online, they should be trained once the lockdown is over because disruptions are sudden and unexpected and it is crucial that we remain prepared and well-equipped beforehand to deal with it.
While it may be challenging for educational institutions to embrace online learning since it has never been a part of our curriculum, in the coming times, integrating online content in the regular curriculum may transform the education system of our country like never before.