Indian Girl using laptop

Around 1.26 billion children have been affected worldwide because of school closures due to pandemic (estimated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)). This is about 72% of the total student population and India alone comprises of 320 million of such learners.

With schools, colleges, and universities across the globe, shutting down due to the COVID 19 pandemic, education has been impacted the most. It is still uncertain when the students return to learning institutes. Countries are handling this disruption by deploying different modes of teaching, especially digital education.

A huge surge in the use of language apps, video conferencing tools, digital tutoring, and learning apps in the last three months had been reported by the World Economic Forum. India too is witnessing this e-learning boom. Remote learning has also enabled several technology-based organizations like Zoom, Google classroom, blackboards, etc. to serve the need.

Due to increased adaptation of the online platforms for learning triggered by this pandemic, all educational units have been forced to adopt the new technology and work virtually.

The integration of such technology in education has led to a transformation for student-centric education. India holds an important place in the world when it comes to education. Right from K12 classes to colleges, it has one of the biggest advanced education systems. With artificial intelligence classroom-like atmosphere is easily created, and learning is getting more fun.

PM Modi also in one of his speeches laid special emphasis on the use of technology in various modes of education such as online, TV channels, podcasts, radio, and other things. Thereby reforming the education sector in the country and placing it on an equal footing with the highest global standards. The Government is currently working on a new education policy.

Here is the list of few initiatives by the HRD Ministry of India for students:

SHAGUN: Online junction which falls under the Department of Education in the Govt o India is an initiative to ease the interaction between teachers and students by providing them with a platform through the digital medium. There are 3 platforms under the scope of SHAGUN:

e-Pathshala: NCERT has made this repository available for students of class 1 to class 12th so that they do not miss out on an important lesson. Available in many regional languages e-Pathsahala has several audios, videos, flipbooks, and ebooks.

DIKSHA: National Digital Infrastructure for Teachers, also known as DIKSHA, is an app that acts as a platform for both teachers and students wherein they can get access to all the learning material. This app requires scanning of the QR code present on the books and has over 80000 ebooks solely dedicated to class 12th students.

National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER): Available in both Hindi and English, students visiting this website will get exposure to ebooks, e-libraries, e-courses, and even online events.

SWAYAM: Specially designed for students from class 9th to 12th and undergraduate and postgraduates SWAYAM has all the study materials in one place. All the courses available online here are free of cost, but to get a minimum certificate amount has to be paid. Study discussions, online self-assessment tests, video lectures, and doubt sessions are available at ‘Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM).

SWAYAM Prabha: A collection of around 32 channels made 24×7 available via DTH (Direct to Home) for students from 1st Std to Postgraduates. Schedule for the programs and other information is available on this portal.

National Digital Library of India: Not only for school students but also for the students pursuing higher education and PhDs this program is run by the Ministry.

NEAT: AICTE has come up with this initiative to increase employability skills among students based on the PPP model in collaboration with technology companies and NDL (National Digital Library).

Virtual Labs: All 12 IITs across the country in a consortium initiated by the HRD Ministry aim to design 700 + virtual experiments for aspirants to study.

Vidwan: It is a database of scientists and research scholars that provides information about these experts to peers, prospective collaborators and funding agencies and policymakers across the country. It is for the faculty members to register and seek help for the experts.

For differently-abled also the Ministry has commenced preparation for e-learning resources in various regional languages across the country. Manodarpan – an initiative for Pysho social support for teachers, students, and families for emotional and mental health wellbeing has also been informed about the digitally accessible information system.

As the digital world is expanding its wings globally, there are numerous initiatives and programs launched by the GoI and MHRD.

The Minister at the summit also expressed the country’s resolve towards the efforts being taken by G20 nationals on the development and advancement of flexible learning strategies including the Digital and Distance learning resource within the context of different countries.

There are many advantages of e-learning such as cost-effective, quality education to all, access to everyone irrespective of location, updated about new trends and technology. But there are a few perils of such online learning in countries like India: lack of infrastructure, the uncertainty of the accreditation, not feasible to the poor, lack of awareness, practical difficulties such as unstable internet and electricity.

India, along with the rest of the countries of the world is fighting COVID 19 while ensuring that schools and college education don’t suffer. The fight seems to be a long one but the way we educate the next generation is changed completely.

Online education in India is still not guided by any standard regulations or norms by the Government. The defined framework for online education is lacking, and in many cases, the teachers are using WhatsApp and skype sessions for sharing study material and worksheets. Therefore it must be an urgent priority for the Government to define these standards. It is important to create a cloud-based system for monitoring mechanisms and online assessment.

Edtech might be flourishing well in India but a full spectrum of the ecosystem around the digital content creation, its delivery and consumptions still need to be matured. Teachers need to be trained well for online learning to get accustomed to creating and delivering lectures virtually. In addition, a user-friendly experience through personal interaction must also be included to make it more holistic.

Overall, completely shifting towards virtual learning is a mammoth task for India, but it is not invincible either.