Some time before the 1956 Summer Olympics, India’s âflying Sikhâ Mr. Milkha Singh was introduced to the concept of ârunning shoesâ by his trainer – âGurudev Singhâ. Before that, he trained barefoot. And he had resumed his strides and his movements barefoot. Therefore, taking shoes had made him accept the new technique. And he ran into problems with the same. Including the timing of his track was disrupted in a major way. And once he got to grips with running in shoes, he became the legend we know.
In all areas of life, we are adjusting to new realities and soon begin to progress like never before. And new realities become reality before a new reality hits humans. The good news is that the ânew realitiesâ have moved the world forward at a faster pace. Now, whether the progress is questionable or the pace of it, it will continue to be a healthy debate among humans. However, anyone who has not acclimated to the new reality has ceased to exist in the new normal.
Virtual / online learning has long been in the spotlight in the world of education. On the one hand, this creates economic success, to the point that India has produced the world’s largest education unicorn, on the other hand, the adoption of virtual / online learning is still uneven, in the same world. Covid 2019, at best, has acted as âGurudev Singhâ for the world of education. Not only has the adoption of virtual / online learning increased, however, we are seeing today’s classrooms update with this new reality.
And the debate can never be whether the “old school” ceases to exist. Remember that the âflying Sikhâ still needed a coach to guide him. Likewise, the âschoolsâ will forever be the guide of the student fraternity. The form and manner will continue to evolve. Only the K-12 sector in India has nearly 230 million students enrolled in around 1.4 million schools. If we add to that the population of the world of higher education, the universe of the student population in India will approach the total population of the United States. Advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality have made a lot of things possible for the world of education and this whole universe is ready to benefit.
The National Education Policy, 2020 introduced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development, stipulates that the focus will be on ‘intensive use of technology in teaching and learning, removing language barriers, improving access as well as educational planning and management‘. Especially in primary and secondary education, the policy recognizes the importance of technology in the service of education and of bridging the gap between students and teachers to make education more seamless. In addition, the policy focuses on digital India and has called the EdTech companies as the backbone of the Indian education system.
The new pedagogical and curricular structure of school education (5 + 3 + 3 + 4) requires activities based on interactive classes, offering multidisciplinary study, greater critical thinking, greater flexibility and the choice of a subject matter in a safe and experiential learning environment. EdTech companies around the world are striving to strengthen textbooks with various technological interventions for better teaching and absorption of the same concepts. What has amplified is the tutorials at the moment, however, there is a whole new world for leading math and science lessons using virtual labs. These not only engage students better, however, through active and open participation, but their understanding of the concepts is also much richer. Even language labs teach teachers new techniques for better classroom management.
The guidelines expect each educational institution to provide 21st skills of the century in collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. Teachers are expected to generate a comprehensive and personalized report on the students. And assessments are viewed from a 360-degree perspective, involving student ‘self-assessment’, ‘peer assessment’ by classmates, and ‘teacher assessment’, for allow the learner to monitor their progress and become an independent learner.
The innovative steps of NEP 2020 require a different mindset on the part of the learner as well as the teacher and seamless coordination between the two. Like the âflying Sikhâ, the learner as well as the teachers will have to unlearn and relearn in the new world. And technology allows this in a structured and standardized way. EdTech companies invent pedagogies with the best world experts in the field to facilitate the world of education. Coding for example. It used to be a language for computer enthusiasts with a good understanding of science subjects. However, today it is taught to toddlers and professionals in a very simplistic way, promoting, identifying the problem statement and arriving at the most critical steps to solve it. This fueled analytical and critical thinking and creativity on the part of the learner, which is a key mandate of NEP 2020.
While young learners are already digital first, their adoption is therefore less of a challenge than teachers. However, with the increase in screen time of these young learners, lack of attention span is another threat to teachers. Therefore, teachers will need to learn new techniques to not only grab the attention of young learners, but also involve them. It also results in a new partnership / relationship between the learner and the teacher.
Over the past decade or so, the cost of data has dropped dramatically, and over the past 18 months, its penetration has improved dramatically as well. In fact, at the end of 2020, rural India was contributing over 55% of data consumption. This is another major factor that will fuel online / virtual learning. Yes, we need to bridge the digital divide in India, and policymakers as well as tech makers are working tirelessly to lower the cost of technology. However, there is still time for every child in rural India to also be able to move around with a personal device that gives them the power of independent learning.
Many private and public schools have adopted the concept of online education and are evaluating its long-term sustainability. Government-subsidized schools will still have to work through the media until the technology and services around are readily available and are affordable.
Kindergarten to 12th grade studentse Easily access tutors through online apps and websites. Most teachers and institutions now encourage students to take advantage of online applications and websites. Most Edtech companies actively contribute to the K-12 learning space. From curriculum to coding to hybrid solutions, transforming physical textbooks into electronic textbooks, and bringing digital materials to classroom and home learning, they work seamlessly to enhance the learning experience. student online learning.
When the world goes virtually / online, how far behind can educational progress be. Today we are comfortable buying groceries, electronics and even an automobile through virtual intervention. Therefore, our ability to review education virtually / online is also high. It is a matter of time that all of India will start schooling virtually / online. The overall quality of education in the hands of a common learner across the country will be comparable. And ultimately, it will also be a pursuit of excellence.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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