Rohit Manglik is an Indian Educationist, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist, who has experience of the corporate world first-hand through his tenure with various Fortune 500 companies such as Oracle, Morgan Stanley, and DE Shaw. Education has always intrigued Rohit, its ability to influence society, and its role in transforming an individual into his best self. Unfortunately, the Indian educational framework suffers from many discrepancies, the lack of accessibility is the foremost. Hailing from a middle-class background, Rohit gained an in-depth understanding of the youth following which he laid the foundation of EduGorilla, which currently caters to 1,300+ Exams and 41,000+ Mock Tests for competitive exams.
The penetration of the Internet, the proliferation of mobile phones and smart devices, and the advent of nascent technologies have provided a fillip to e-learning in the past few years. Until the pre-COVID era, e-learning was primarily used for remedial lessons or acquiring new skills by corporate professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be an inflection point for e-learning. The suspension of the classroom modeled educational institutions to rely on e-learning to maintain continuity. Never had e-learning been used on such a scale as during COVID-19.
The most significant advantage of e-learning is its ‘anytime, anywhere access irrespective of geographical barriers. It is also a convenient and cost-effective model since it enables students to get access to modules at the click of the mouse. The use of additional features such as one-to-one video call feedback, remedial lessons, recorded lectures as part of the Learning Management System promptly address students’ queries and grievances besides enhancing his experience. Not only that, e-learning is a boon for teachers as well by automating certain tasks such as recording attendance, facilitating assignment submission, and serving as a one-stop repository of all students’ academic performance.
Fortunately, the recent policies of the government take cognizance of the immense potential that e-learning offers. The initiatives such as DIKSHA, SWAYAM, and SWAYAMPRABHA have provided a fillip to e-learning. Moreover, the New Education Policy announced in 2020 envisages the virtual labs to supplement classroom lessons and experiential learning through immersive technologies. Bolstered by a conducive policy landscape, India is witnessing the boom of ed-tech startups that have plugged the gaps of classroom teaching.
But there is still a long way to go until e-learning becomes a ubiquitous reality for almost every educational institution in India. E-learning relies on uninterrupted connectivity, which is a key obstacle in Tier 3 and remote hinterlands of the country. A survey conducted by Azim Premji Foundation titled “Myths of Online Education” of over 1500 public schools in five states revealed that almost 60% of children were unable to access e-learning, and 70% of the parents found it ineffective for learning. Compared to the brick-and-mortar model, e-learning has certain inherent drawbacks such as low attention span of students and subsequently high dropout rate, lack of personalization, and concerns of increased screen time and stress among children.
Moreover, not all instructors are accustomed to teaching via online mode and thus lack the training to ensure that the online resources are being used effectively for instruction. According to UDISE (Unified District Information System for Education) 2019-20 study, only one out of four Indian teachers were trained to use a computer for teaching. As per the findings of the Annual State Education Report (ASER) 2019 survey, 2  /3rds of children in the rural parts of the country reported that they didn’t receive any learning materials or activities during the pandemic period. Additionally, 1/3rd of the children reported no learning at all.
The democratization of e-learning warrants heavy investment in digital infrastructure. However, it would be unfair to expect the government to shoulder this responsibility alone. Corporates can play an instrumental role in scaling up infrastructure and fostering academia-industry collaborations to boost e-learning. Emerging technologies such as Artificial learning and Virtual Reality can aid in making lessons interactive, personalized, and customized according to the learning pace of each student. There is also a need to revamp the existing pedagogy to integrate e-learning with traditional methods of teaching. Simultaneously, e-learning must consider concerns of differently-abled by ensuring the provision of special amenities for them to foster inclusivity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has opened a Pandora of opportunities for e-learning in India. Much will, however, hinges on how we utilize this opportunity to unlock the tremendous potential of e-learning and reap the advantage of the demographic dividend to become the global knowledge superpower.