Basically, Digital education refers to technology-assisted learning. It is not a new concept for most students. We have been using digital platforms such as Google, Wikipedia, Youtube, etc for years now. This is due to the vast variety of complex topics that are available on such websites. Like engineering, law, medical sciences, etc. Digital learning has definitely expanded due to the pandemic. Educational institutions all over the globe have enacted these new digital learning policies to provide quality education to students. Necessity is surely the mother of all inventions. Both institutions and student alike have evolved their studying techniques to complement the current situation. They can also access better infrastructure like recorded lectures and constant testing that improves the learning process. Due to these policies, education has become more accessible to non-students too.
Platforms used by Institutes for Digital Education.
New platforms such as Zoom, Ms. Teams, and Google Hangout are used by institutions to provide students educational content. They use the various features that these systems offer such as Assignments option, Multiple Choice Quiz tests, and recording lectures. These systems are revolutionizing the teaching methods. Especially in India, where rote learning is promoted, these systems provide us a chance to learn by first principles. Students understand the basics through constant testing and improved access to quality lectures. It allows a more laid-back atmosphere for all involved. We also have more free time by removing the requirement to travel which can then be utilized for productive work. Teachers and students also have data representations according to the various subjects and topics. This helps them understand where they lag using simple formats like pie charts. They are made automatically according to test results.
Benefits of Digital Education.
According to the American research institute, the retention rate of students on digital education platforms 25 % to 60 % higher. This is because of the calm environment that students can study in. Without any distractions and the ability to revisit recorded lectures. It was also measured that a lot more content can be taught to students. Almost five times more, as distractions on the teacher’s side are also removed. Now even though conventional wisdom says that the more time teachers take, the better the students will learn. It is not actually accurate, in fact, we see the opposite. The more information the lectures have, without any wastage of time, the more students seem to understand and retain.
The Indian digital education market is booming, with applications such as BYJUS reaching a record number of users. The E-learning market in India is expected to be a 1.9 billion dollar market in 2021. With almost 9 million projected student users on such platforms.
a. Young children
There are however certain issues that come with e-learning that can not be ignored. The concern of parents on this topic is valid. They see how isolated student learning programs harm the child. They remove a key aspect of education which is interaction with teachers as well as other students.
This is primarily true for younger students who need to yet develop their personalities through peer group interactions. Also, it is a reason for concern for parents that children are now hooked on their devices even more. Not only are they using them for entertainment but also for education. This creates suspicion that they may in fact be inattentive in the classes and watching videos or playing games instead. Young students are becoming more addicted to their devices as they are discouraged from going out of their houses. Therefore they can not do anything else to spend their time.
b. Applied sciences
The concern is also valid for applied sciences like engineering. Here the lack of practicals reduces the quality of learning as it focuses entirely on theory. This is particularly true for final year students of various technical courses. Last years are critical for project work which allows them to apply their knowledge to create realistic models. With the lack of necessary equipment at home, they have to miss this critical part of their education. Students are encouraged to use digital platforms for completing their projects. Computer-assisted design for engineers, simulations for medical students, and online case studies for psychology majors. However, they are not as effective and are only substitutes for the real thing.
There is also the issue of cheating which is extremely easy if the proper monitoring systems are not used. In-class tests the institutes do not use these systems. Thus reducing the quality of testing as students believe they can pass without any effort. Especially for school tests, no such systems are used only open book tests are taken. For more important papers however such as government institution entrance tests, all precautions are taken. Such as video monitoring and screen monitoring to reduce the possibility of any unfair advantage. Students are also expected to use high-speed internet services. As lagging video and screens could allow students time to contact their teachers or friends. There are still limitations to the monitoring ability of institutes. We require proper infrastructure and personnel are to maintain the integrity of the testing process.
As compared to conventional education and testing, there are certain benefits of e-learning. However none that can not be incorporated into classroom learning. Like smart classrooms with projector screens, allowing laptop users to use e-learning platforms. This can allow us to combine the best of both worlds.
We also require a system through which classes can be recorded. This is currently not available to most students in institutes. It would greatly benefit the teachers too, by reducing the time required for revisiting topics. Also, It will allow students that can not attend classes, to use these systems to come prepared. We must make the education system as convenient for all concerned. This will allow us to optimize our time and will benefit all parties involved.
SEO VARSHA SINGH
GRAPHICS BY DEEPTI BHATNAGAR