– Devadas Krishnan, CEO, MySchoolPage, a Bangalore-based edtech startup offering personalised one-on-one classes for K-12 to students of CBSE, ICSE, IB, GCSE, IGCSE , NIOS boards in several countries including UAE, India, USA
The prolonged restrictions to contain coronavirus in the country have brought unusual challenges for the entire education system, which is trying its best to adapt by embracing the digital way of learning. From K-12 to higher education, as institutes struggle to ensure a seamless learning experience for students in the face of this adversity, more and more students are turning to online education as a solution to their learning woes. As school and college classrooms go virtual and increased numbers of students gain familiarity with digital learning, there has also been a spurt in enrolments on several edtech platforms across age groups and courses.
From alternate to mainstream
In the last few years, India has witnessed a rise in demand for online education. But until now, it was only seen as a parallel system running alongside mainstream school education. Higher education was the first to embrace collaborations with edtech platforms for updating syllabus, imparting minors in niche areas or upskilling students and faculty members alike. While in the school segment, most learners looked towards edtech platforms primarily for test preparation – from college entrance to competitive exams. That too, to supplement offline coaching.
At the K-12 level, parents preferred sending their children to coaching centres to supplement school learning. A major reason behind this has been the need to provide a controlled learning environment for students, which parents felt, at that time, online education could not deliver. Though they were spending money on online learning content, they were unwilling to invest in online tuition classes as the perceived impact on their child’s learning was not much. Once the pandemic made attending the physical classes impossible, people warmed up to the idea of online live education for their children. It also helped that now there are several options for personalised online tutoring classes being provided by edtech startups like MySchoolPage.
Why online learning is the future
Presently, virtual classes allow students to access lessons and interact with teachers in ways that would have been impossible a few years ago. Data penetration is also quite high. Access to smart devices is also on the rise. Even after the physical world resumes post COVID-19, online learning is here to stay. It has become a new normal. Apart from the convenience of learning from home, digital learning allows more flexibility and personalised learning. This, combined with quality resources across a wide range of subjects offered by edtech platforms, makes online learning ideal for students. The high level of interactivity, personalisation and engaging content makes the learning fun for students, something that our traditional classroom pedagogy struggles to deliver. Even after schools re-open, a significant part of the curriculum will be taught online.
It will complement the homeschooling trend
Another trend that will gain popularity in a post-COVID world is homeschooling, which is presently at a nascent stage in our country. The reason is not just ensuring the child learns from the safety of home but also, because of the flexibility it brings. Our schooling system has long followed the rote learning and one size fits all approach. Parents, dissatisfied with the archaic curriculum and pedagogy followed in schools, are turning to the homeschooling option. It provides the children an opportunity to explore their interests and to discover their potential freely and enable them to learn at their own pace. The new National Education Policy (NEP) acknowledges this and seeks to overhaul school education and align it to the 21st century needs. Even with this reformative, the adoption and implementation at the grass-root levels will take years.
Here again, the edtech platforms will lend a great helping hand to these parents and educators, by creating a holistic schedule with curricular or co-curricular courses for children. Online learning removes multiple barriers such as age criterion as to when a child should learn what subject or physical access to learning. A child can learn coding or take up creative writing classes or delve deep in the world of psychology, all depending on interest and from wherever they are based.
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