The entire world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Billions of people’s lives have been impacted. Most countries decided to impose lockdowns to prevent the virus from spreading, but they are gradually lifting lockdowns to begin economic activities.
Educational institutions are being considered as extremely vulnerable spots and therefore, across the world, about 1.2 billion children are unable to attend their schools. This has had a huge impact on the education sector.
Schools and colleges have shifted to an online system of teaching. With students in a major part of the world taking online classes, a number of questions are being raised about the future of the education sector. Online education was on a path of growth even before the pandemic. However, the present circumstances have shown how important this medium of teaching can be. Until now, it had been difficult to think that any form of teaching, except in physical classrooms, could be made mainstream.
Most Online Video-Conferencing and Education Platforms Have Witnessed A Boost
To ensure that students continue their education, platforms like BYJU’S allowed free access to all of their content for the first few months of the lockdown. Not only did this help students, but these platforms were able to increase their user base by a huge margin. BYJU’S alone has witnessed a 200% growth in new users.
Elsewhere, Lark developed Byte Dance for the company’s internal use. During the pandemic, they allowed teachers and students to use the platform with features like unlimited video-conferencing time. They even upgraded its global server infrastructure to meet demands.
Other platforms like Zoom have been used extensively by institutions to continue classes online. They upgraded their security features to ensure that they keep acquiring new users.
Online Learning is, However, Full of Challenges
Most Institutions and students were not even remotely prepared for such a drastic change in the education process. However, due to the current scenario, they have been able to adapt to this new mode of education quickly.
But challenges like low bandwidth continue to trouble both teachers and students. Another thing which has been a big cause for concern is that most educators are unaware of the technology they are having to work with to teach students. This has resulted in lesser productivity on both sides. While companies are making their platforms more user-friendly to eliminate this issue, it hasn’t been an easy road for many educators.
Another problem is the lack of digital access. While bigger institutions are conducting classes online, there are several institutions that are facing difficulties due to a lack of funds. Other than that, in regions that have a high-income disparity, online education now seems to be widening the divide as several students are not being able to attend the online classes due to lack of proper devices and low bandwidth.
About 95% of students have access to a computer in countries like Norway whereas the number falls to 35% in those like Indonesia.
If the online education process is to continue according to the present manner, a huge knowledge divide is going to be created in several regions of the world which will subsequently give rise to other social problems.
Effectiveness of Online Learning
A major point of discussion regarding online education is if it can be as effective as a traditional classroom. The answer to this question isn’t a simple one, however.
For students who have access to proper devices and good internet, online education can be more effective than traditional classrooms. That is because in this case, students can learn at their own pace. There is no rush to try and understand a topic simply because the teacher is progressing to the next one. If any doubt arises, it is easier for students to go back and revise the topics.
However, this is true only for senior students. According to most experts, it is important for younger kids to learn in a structured environment as that helps them stay more focused.
The Future Of Education
There is much to be discussed about online education but one thing is certain – the current pandemic has highlighted its benefits and has shed light on the flaws that need to be improved. The online education sector has massive potential for growth.
With proper regulations, it will become much easier for institutions to provide education to students on a remote basis which will help bridge the knowledge divide in various parts of society.