Introduction There is a big thrust on online education, particularly after the Covid-19 menace; hundreds of new online courses have now been introduced by a number of private institutions; these courses have immense potential to make deep inroads into the actual developmental needs of employed people. There are many issues that come up for serious consideration and implementation.
The main issues in this regard are: a) The need to make online education affordable b) Training of teachers on the new methodologies c) Emerging areas of focus for new courses d) Courses in local languages e) Sharing of knowledge for greater effectiveness and f)Need for public-private partnerships at all levels.
The need to make online education affordable Today, we have some "apps" that are in the business. These private operators offer a number of certificates or Diploma Courses in subjects such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, and so on. There are a good variety of courses in areas like Digital Marketing and so on; all these courses are for the rich and the highly placed IT professionals or those in manufacturing and so on. It is also understood that a few Corporate organizations are now sponsoring their own employees for these courses, as part of their career-building.
While the objectives of these courses are fine, the cost is not. The State Universities need to chip in and they can do the pricing at a reasonable cost. They can appeal to the Alumni and even the general public and even seek the help of Corporates in the form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds.
Training of teachers on the new methodologies Though Covid-19 made teachers reach out to students in the online mode, there were yawning gaps and the absence of the offline traditional mode of teaching was acutely felt in the semi-urban and rural areas. There is an urgent need to train both school and college teachers on the nuances of the online method of teaching, particularly in the use of PowerPoint and use of other training methods. There should also be a good amount of creative methodologies and this will only come through practice. The role of the UGC and the various Universities that are already engaged in online education is central to this process of training the teachers.
At the school level, the State Boards of Secondary Education should also develop certificate courses in the emerging areas for school students, particularly for students from the ninth standard up to the plus two levels. This will enable the students to seamlessly enter their higher education courses without any difficulty.
Emerging areas of focus of new courses There is an urgent need to adapt to new courses as well. For example, even housewives can be taught the basics of skills such as bakery through the online method at a very reasonable cost. Those who are interested in developing terrace gardens at low cost can be given a certificate by trained professionals. The students of the MBA course who specialize in HR, can and should be exposed to the latest in labor laws through a certificate course in Labor Laws that should be conducted by professionals and so on. This will not only improve their skills but also enable them to keep themselves updated on the nuances of a very important area of importance in HR.
Courses in local languages How about a certificate course for the ninth standard students in ancient temple architecture, being conducted in Tamil, for instance, where the students will be very much exposed to the ancient culture of temples in that State? How about a similar course in Telugu or Kannada for the students of the respective States?
This is exactly how the new training should evolve. The education should also be strictly secular and should aim at making deep inroads into teaching through the online method in the local languages. Each student can be provided a login id and password to facilitate the process of access from remote areas. Of course, the network should also be resolved by the State Government.
Sharing of knowledge for greater effectiveness There ought to be greater sharing of knowledge amongst both teachers and students. Once the State Universities get into the act, this kind of sharing of knowledge can be made easier. The expertise of the retired professionals should also be utilized for the infusion of professionalism in terms of sharing of knowledge. However, this is expected to happen when the process is initiated and progress is made in terms of the actual rollout.
Conclusion There is a big scope in terms of making online education a way of life. The above suggestions may hopefully engage the attention of some educationists and it is indeed a big imperative of our times that online education does not remain a course only for the rich, but reach out to the masses at large.