Vivek Jain, Chief Business Officer, Shiksha.com and Naukri FastForward is an MBA in Finance & Marketing from IIM, Bangalore and a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT, Delhi. Proven leader in the online space, Vivek is spearheading Team Shiksha towards the next phase of growth and profitability, with an aim to make it the default platform for prospective students to research and decide about careers and colleges related to higher education in India or abroad. Vivek is a part of the Info Edge family for the past 10 years and has been involved in building businesses from scratch. Vivek brings with him strong product and consulting experience with leading firms like Naukri.com, Adobe Systems, and IBM Research.
The spread of Covid-19 across the globe in 2020 led to lockdown worldwide. To avoid the spread of this perilous virus, India also declared a nationwide lockdown on March 24, 2020. This led to the closing of all the educational institutions for physical classes.
To ensure that there is no loss of the educational year, educational institutions of all levels, relied on online classes to impart knowledge and continue with the academic year.
The educators and students encountered a lot of hurdles in their new endeavor of online teaching. Issues related to access to the internet, network connectivity, and digital illiteracy, among others, cropped up and posed a threat to this new ‘normal’ way of education. However, with time the country adapted to online education and even realized the scope of growth it brought along.
For many reasons, it is speculated that even after this pandemic ends, the continuation of online teaching will bear fruitful results for the education sector of India, especially for higher education.
To go to work or go to classes?
Online education has widened and increased access to higher education in India. Owing to financial issues, students who had to enter the job market instead of pursuing higher education now have the opportunity to study online and pursue higher education while working. If online education continues, this percentage of enrolment will likely increase to incorporate students who cannot afford to spend their time being full-time students. An online degree will undoubtedly hold more value than diploma or distance education courses and in turn, improve the human resource of the country.
Equity in terms of gender
Among the plethora of reasons due to which younger girls in small cities and rural regions are forbidden from going to schools and colleges, is the lack of educational institutions in the vicinity. But with proper measures, through online education, the ratio of enrolment of girls versus boys in schools and colleges can be improved. This can be achieved without any fear of distance which usually acts as a hindrance in the family’s decision to educate their girl child in rural India.
Reaching remote areas
The geographical distribution of schools and colleges is not equal in India. While some urban areas are filled to the brim with educational institutions, most of the remote areas are left barren with one or no educational institutions. With the continuation of online education in the country, education can be made available to the students living in such remote regions, provided that they are ensured proper internet connectivity.
Stronger Internet penetration
As a part of the Digital India program, internet penetration in smaller and rural areas is on the rise. With access to mobile-friendly applications and mobile internet, online teaching platforms are easily supported without demanding much internet bandwidth. Thus, low-cost android smartphones and cost-effective internet plans of different mobile service providers have further increased the percentage of students willing to opt for online learning.
A recent survey by Shiksha.com revealed that easy accessibility and cost-effectiveness are the two most important reasons for 57% and 25% of students, respectively, which influence their decision to pursue online degree courses.
Blended Learning Model
The norm of online learning in India has also brought to the limelight the concept of blended learning. The Blended Learning Model posits a combination of both offline and online classes to increase the quality of education imparted and accommodate more students. This theory postulates the teaching of theoretical knowledge through online classes while practical classes can be conducted physically on the campuses. Such a model of learning, where offline classes accompany and complement online classes, will increase the reach of education in the country.
AR and AI
Newer technologies such as Augmented Reality or Artificial Intelligence, when used to their optimum level to facilitate the process of online education will invite more students to join the colleges and universities of the country. AI can be used to complete tedious tasks such as grading, which will reduce the risk of human error and help the students have personalized learning modules. AR can make an online classroom more interesting and engaging. For instance, using virtual 3D images to explain concepts help the students grasp and understand the concept better.
Shiksha.com’s Recent Survey on Indian Students Preferences on Online Degree Courses
In a recent survey report released by Shiksha.com on Indian students’ preferences on online degree courses, the esteemed online platform for education after careful considerations and substantial research has revealed certain suggestions which can help further the cause of online learning in higher educational institutions.
- Offer campus visits to reduce student’s fear of missing out on college/university life and thereby, encouraging more students to enroll in online learning.
- Provide online course degrees at an affordable price.
- Set stringent selection process to ensure credibility.
- Offer networking opportunities to students to help build relationships with teachers, fellow classmates, seniors, and other important personalities.
- Employ enhanced tracking mechanisms to scrutinize the students’ performance.
- Being accredited by recognized agencies to increase the credibility of the college/university.
The report also highlights that a cumulative 40% of students are interested in online degree courses and if the aforementioned recommendations are applied, it would lead to an increase in the percentage of students enrolled in the colleges and universities.
Though online learning has its own challenges, with proper steps these can be overcome and more efficient online learning can sweep across the country. Thus, the continuation of online learning, even after the pandemic will increase the reach of the Indian Education Sector multi-folds.