The Year 2020 ushered in by disrupting every aspect of normal life and the major jolt was faced mostly by the education sector globally. The indefinite closure of schools, colleges and universities created a learning vacuum for students but the crisis was well managed which resulted in a tectonic shift in our educational system from Offline teaching to Online teaching. During the unprecedented time teachers, parents and teachers made the largest pivot worldwide from face to face learning to online classrooms. So in a bid to ensure continuity Online education became the new normal.
There has been a significant and ongoing debate that Online learning is not as effective as face to face learning and Online teaching has created a digital divide in society. Technology is an incredibly important tool for educators which can help in affirming and advancing relationships between educators and students. Everybody had witnessed that the transition to online teaching in the early 2020 has to be done in emergency and Educational Institutions all over the world came with innovative ideas and shown to the world an incredible work by re-designing learning with a combination of online education and offline teaching to keep students engaged. The main motive was to give the best for students and for that purposefully designed online learning modules were added which gave new dimensions to students learning.
The Government of India is encouraging several e-learning projects under the National Mission on Education through ICT initiatives such as Swayam, Swayam-Prabha, National Digital Library, e-Yantra, Virtual Lab, that are helping students as well as teachers in up skilling as well as providing quality resources. On the other hand these efforts are leading to creation of knowledge tools which encourage creativity and innovation among the young generation. The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 proposes a revamping of existing system of education and integration of technology for enhancing teaching learning is an important aspect.
Since The Digital India Campaign is helping to transform the entire nation into a digitally empowered society we need an army of tech-enabled youngsters with emphasis given on critical thinking, creativity and stronger conceptual understanding will encourage students to become self motivated learners. By fusing digital, human and humane skills , the new reality is preparing students for the future. Online teaching is considered as the better option but in a country as diverse as India the delivery of tech- driven education cannot cater to all sections of society. Online learning has its challenges –unequal access to devices and Internet connection, inadequate space at home to do online schooling and teachers lacking the training in delivering online classes, customized online content in short supply and the impact of continuous online exposure on health.
These realities must be acknowledged and the risks in shifting education online must be accepted. Students in richer households have better access to Internet and computers and are more digitally literate. At the same time we have to accept the fact that education is not about technology but also about learning, interaction and developing soft skills and social capital which only schools can provide through In-Person teaching. A teacher in a classroom exerts great influence on the students although it is assumed to impart teaching equally to all pupils and each student may imbibe and fare differently. In-person teaching within a strict school regimen also instills in every child discipline and regularity which a home cannot. In tech mediated learning , the pace of learning is not determined by the teacher and in In-person teaching the teacher assumes the role of not only a facilitator but can also provide a great support to marginalized learners.
In India we have to accept the fact that online teaching is not a silver bullet for everyone. A blend of Offline and online teaching should be the path for the future. Our youngsters have immense caliber to strive for excellence and definitely they can build a strong self reliant India by embracing the role of technology in shaping education – the Future Vistas.
(Author Mala Sood is a Principal at Arvind Gupta DAV Centenary Public School, Model Town. Views expressed here personal.)
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