IntroductionCovid-19 pandemic has changed the mental set of people, crippled almost every sector of our lives; the education of our students is also badly hit. They have no access to education as schools and colleges are shut amid COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, e-learning has become the preferred method for millions of students across different online learning platforms of the country. Though India has a huge potential for digital learning technology with more than 1.3 billion population, there are many million students left without access to e-learning platforms due to structural imbalances in the country.
What is e-learningE-learning or electronic learning is the process of learning using digital technologies to access the content anytime and anywhere in the world. A working computer or a laptop and healthy internet connection are prerequisite to e-learning. E-learning has become a necessity nowadays and students prefer online classes and different educational portals to hone their skills.
Disparity between internet users in rural and urban populationAccording to the National Sample Survey report 2017-2018," only 24% of the population has an internet facility in the country, while 66% of Indians live in villages but only 15% of people have access to the internet. For the urban population, only 42% of people have access to Internet facilities in India."
And one more interesting fact is that "Only 8% of the young population between the age group of 5-24 possess computer and laptop facilities but that doesn't mean facilities are owned by the household."
There is also a huge disparity between men and women in rural and urban populations as for the access to the internet facilities are concerned. Internet and mobile association of India report of 2019 days, 67% of men and only 33% of women had access to the internet, while as in rural India 72% men and 28% women are enjoying the internet facility.
Stagnation in e-learningData shows there is stagnation in the process of e-learning. Although the traditional system of teaching can't be replaced by online learning where engagement between a mentor and learner is a challenge, it is a welcome step in this health crisis when students have only online sources available for education. After announcing lockdown, the online presence of students increased by 30% on different educational apps.
According to the BARC India report, time spent on Byju's app has climbed from 70-91 minutes since the first lockdown was declared. Amid COVID -19 pandemic when students are looking for alternatives to fit in the competition, many students lack this learning engagement due to instability and structural imbalance in digital learning. Equal opportunity for every student in the education field is a prerequisite to success.
Slow internet speed in Jammu and Kashmir : In Jammu and Kashmir, students can't access online classes due to restrictions on 4G networks. Even the University of Kashmir had to cancel the online meeting with the college principals, they had convened to discuss the pattern and the examination of undergraduate students.
"The agenda of the meeting was to discuss and devise a plan for the examination of undergraduate students. All principals needed to attend the meeting," but had to cancel the online meeting due to poor internet speed, an official privy to the meeting said.
ConclusionThis pandemic has unfolded the gates of e-learning which can herald a new momentum in the field of education if we develop a competent digital learning platform for learners. The half-hearted approach towards the education sector will only deteriorate our education system. If we have to light up the future of our next generation, it is time we provide them with better learning facilities. High-speed internet is essential to enable students with an uninterrupted learning experience beside other electronic gadgets needed for online learning. Flaws and technical glitches must be fixed to provide a promising learning platform to students amid COVID-19 pandemic.
It is very true that the present virus crisis has opened a big door for the online learning as there is no alternative available other than this in the present situation. At the same time there is a need to improve the infrastructure required for the online mode to smoothly penetrate in the households in India. Many parents are not aware of these emerging technologies and are dependent on other people to help them and explain the basic set up required for online learning and communicate with the teacher who is taking the online class from a centralised place. Students would also take some time in getting fully accustomed to this mode. Once the initial teething troubles are addressed there is much growth potential in this area.
Thank you for your comment. You are right, many parents are not aware of the technologies required for the online learning process and even students who have little knowledge about learning also feel it difficult to attend online classes. Some even don't have gadgets required for it.
However, I feel it is essential to improve this system and involve everyone in this learning process and provide facilities to learners so that they will be able to participate effectively and benefit from this online learning.