Challenges of E-Learning in Covid-19 Era
| Prof. (Dr.) Divya Tanwar, Director, Sanskirti University, Delhi - 03 Jul 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has worldwide forced closed the entire set of educational institutions, from schools and colleges to Universities. UNICEF states 98.5 percent of world student population is affected by the pandemic. The concepts of e-Learning & Online Education are gaining high traction. 

By Dr DivyaTanwar 

Challenges for e-Learning: 

Shifting to Online distance learning is only an adaptive response of privileged & few. This shaking of educational systems worldwide has put underprivileged and poor students in more disadvantageous position than before.

Almost 50 % of the world is offline and 70 % women and girl children have no access mobile devices, internet access and digital literacy, the pandemic will only widen the educational disparity & inequality.

It has far reaching consequences for not only students, teachers & their families also for respective economies and societies. It has adversely affected students’ debt, food security, homelessness, childcare, healthcare, housing, and disability services as well. The divide in learning between rich & poor, urban & rural, male & female child, private & public schools, developed & developing nation in terms of access to quality educations has only widened.  These disadvantaged children and their families face the worst interrupted learning, compromised nutrition, childcare problems and economic cost to families. Students from geographically remote locations and tribes are the worst affected.

Who suffer the most?

The students from rural areas, urban slums, geographically difficult terrains, girl children, and children from poor families will be most adversely affected educationally due to paradigm shift from classroom to online distance learning. The primary & secondary education in rural India is primarily through government schools, which suffers from all the handicaps for speedy transition to online distance education.

What do we really need?

The transition is very capital intensive. We need affordable infrastructure of computers, laptops, smart mobile phones, uninterrupted power and charging support & internet connectivity for students, teachers and educational institutions. 

We need digital literacy & capability amongst teachers & students, digitized course contents, online distance education knowledge and experience, availability of e-Books, e-Journals and other support services. We need reliable online examination modules for each level and stage to develop faith in new pedagogical model.

Concerted efforts are required towards developing high quality course contents for online distance education.

  • The course content should be designed with specific & measurable learning objectives aligned to authentic real-world experiences. The content should be well organized, easy to navigate, consistent, manageable sections with alignment between topics and sub-topics. The clarity and richness content in tools and media is  important
  • It should match student’s expectations. The objectives of learning, activities, assessment & gratings to be synchronized. Clarity of guidelines and content is important.
  • Digitized course content is just small component of online quality education. Quality online education provides for effective student-teacher, student-student and student-content interaction, which takes it closure to classroom learning.

Can we make it an opportunity?

The Covid-19 pandemic should not lockdown the academic aspiration of our young generation, which is India’s future. The calamity of corona virus magnitude shakes us to reprioritize & reallocate national resources towards in an inclusive cum equitable education system. The investments & dynamism towards new online distance education will benefit the nation for generations to come.

Technology is capital intensive and time taking activity. Once appropriate level of infrastructure is created, it brings in phenomenal benefits. Technology is the biggest leveler and tool for more inclusive and equitable growth.

  • Paradigm shift to Online learning provides our under-privileged students from slums, rural areas, tribal,  girls and those staying in distant & difficult terrain, the an access to best of the educational content and faculty, not only domestically but also internationally.
  • It will provide for learning of contents and skills which are in demand by industry.
  • The online learning and online work (work from home) are complimentary to each other. It provides the underprivileged with equality of opportunity to work for the best of industry. The job markets are open both domestically and internationally, when you can work from home.
  • Online learning will be much cheaper since the costs of travel, logistics will be less. It is more flexible and relevant.

The government, public & private educational institutions, industry, think tanks, media, NGO’s need to come to-gather and pool their resources, knowledge & experience, to make the youth competitive in international job market and take India’s development to the next level. The educational aspiration of youth in India should not be left to wait.

Representational Images –

File Photo Caption – 1 - Union HRD Minister @DrRPNishank launches national program VidyaDaan 2.0 for inviting e-learning Content contributions

Source – Twitter handle of HRDMinistry / PIB_india @NIELITIndia - Twitter handle of RSprasadoffice

About the Author:

Prof. (Dr.) Divya Tanwar, Director, Sanskirti University, Delhi

Vice president Indo-American Business Chambers of SME; Phd (Compute science) M Tech, MPhil, MBA, MCA, BSc (Elec.) a true professional with a decade's experience in teaching and research from the field of computer science; Also served as a Director- examination for SRDE- NAT; Headed the Program Implementation of Vision Special School for serving Children with Special Needs (CWSN) under the aegis of Society for Research Development in Education (SRDE).

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