“Education can only be effective if it helps the child to open up to life.”
What Maria Montessori remarked is even more relevant in the 21st century, because academic superiority is no longer enough to ensure success and pleasure in life and at work. Holistic development through education, starting at an early age, is more vital today than it was a century ago.
Holistic learning is a relatively new method of education in which the educator attempts to meet the learner’s physiological, interpersonal, artistic, intellectual, ethical, cognitive, and religious demands as well as their intellectual demands. It is founded on the belief that learners can find their identity and purpose in life by connecting with their local community and the natural environment, as well as by instilling universal human values such as empathy, inclusion, integrity and respect. A school environment is designed based on these beliefs and the sudden wave of pandemic and online learning has impacted the core of the normal learning ecosystem in some ways.
The wave of online education
With the emergence of COVID-19 and the ensuing quarantine, online education has now become mainstream to continue education during such an event. Students from different classes, religions, castes, races and ethnicities engage, communicate and participate in an online course, building awareness and a sense of connection for students from diverse backgrounds. Online learning meets the diverse demands of individual learners even without a physical connection with the availability of customizable content, unlimited learning resources available online, and the freedom to discuss and triage any question one-on-one with the mentor. Texts, graphics, videos, lessons and multimedia content all play an important role here in making the online learning environment attractive and interesting for learners. The advanced features of online testing, assessment, report generation and quick access to lessons and resources make it very useful for teachers and save time. It is also an opportunity to establish the link between parents and teachers by integrating parents or guardians more closely into online lessons since they take place at home. Not only are schools, colleges, and universities offering online courses, but people are finding it extremely beneficial to opt for refresher courses, certifications, and courses online from the safety of their homes. Apart from security being an undeniable aspect of choosing online learning, accessibility to quality learning and education is also a major factor.
Barriers to online education
Unfortunately, various issues are hampering online education, especially in India. One is the lack of equitable access to a computer or smartphone, as well as high-speed internet connectivity in many parts of the country. Not all learners may feel comfortable learning online being a relatively new medium. Additionally, many children find it difficult to concentrate in online lessons due to the distraction available on devices and at home. The lack of a structured routine designed for a child’s holistic development that includes a mix of academic, athletic, cognitive, communication, and personality development also affects children. Somehow, online courses also become mundane if they are not carefully designed. Not being in the company of their classmates and attending online sessions, children are also missing out on the collaboration skills they learn to acquire while being inside classrooms. Now that classes are physically resuming, schools and parents are ready to start school again.
Although the challenges do not directly impede the spread of holistic knowledge, they must be addressed in order to implement economically and universally acceptable online education. The need is to incorporate a hybrid learning structure in which it includes classroom learning with online learning for safe yet holistic child development. Classroom learning helps develop social skills, collaborative learning, interactions, etc. to make a big difference in development and online would help reinforce learning effectively.
We will only be able to integrate comprehensive learning components when the challenges are met and a hybrid approach is adopted.
Student experiences with online education
Before entering the real world, online learning helped students become self-directed learners. During the session, students had the opportunity to explore new learning tools and platforms, various content with video references, practical tools and experiments, activities and wider access to learning materials. online learning that helped them develop new skills and abilities and increase their growth trajectory. Students have responded positively to the dynamic learning environment that teachers have built online, while others need a nudge in fits and starts.
The future looks bright
Education technology systems are transforming the education sector in India today by democratizing excellent education through the provision of low cost online courses and courses. Indeed, such projects have demonstrated that, from an academic point of view, e-learning is just as beneficial as traditional learning. Fortunately, as online learning continues to adapt to the ever-changing demands of students around the world, the addition of holistic components will eventually follow.
Digital learning has made it possible to organize and maintain data and records without causing physical harm. Students can access their notebooks and assignments with just one click, eliminating the risk of losing or messing them up. Technology-enabled learning is beneficial and has been shown to be more engaging, as it helps to make things usually considered boring by students more dynamic and interesting. From an early age, online education clearly contributes to the holistic development of learners. As a result, the edtech industry is booming, with a bright future ahead of it.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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