Sanjay Gupta is the Founder & Director of Engineer’s Circle, India’s largest and leading engineering education institute. Hailing from an engineering background himself, Sanjay moved away from rewarding jobs with a mission to spread his vast experience and astounding knowledge to transform engineering graduates into efficient officers and valuable resources for India. With over 20 years of experience, Sanjay holds a distinction of qualifying the GATE examination and securing AIR-36. An electronics engineering graduate, Sanjay doubles as a faculty of national repute in the Electronics and Electrical branch.
The sudden closure of all the institutions in March 2020 led to abrupt conversion of conventional face-to-face instructions to full virtual mode of education. With over billions of students, India has the highest number of educational populace and the largest education systems worldwide. The nationwide lockdown posed an emergency for all the schools, colleges, universities and coaching institutes to switch to E-learning in order to ensure smooth completion of the academic year and continued flow of learning.
Although online education has not been a new concept for educators in general, it has now proven to be the primary mode for educating and connecting students with institutes in a safe yet convenient manner. Unlike management education, engineering education felt a more significant challenge than students being on the machines to work. However, with a proper digital set-up, online education is more acknowledged in engineering subfields like AI, IT, computer science, data science etc.
Below are a few points highlighting on different pros and cons of virtual studies in engineering education:
1. Easy access to top level faculties: Today, the new-age tools have enabled experts and top-level faculties to take guest lectures sitting in any part of the world allowing a global perspective and a robust learning. Elearning is much more than just live classes; it offers an interactive learning experience, and has evolved from the format of a virtual lecture. Physical learning made it difficult for lecturers to be present and take classes in multiple institutions, but the virtual mode has come to the rescue bringing the world closer.
2. Safe yet convenient mode of learning: With a growing acceptance of online learning, we all have come to terms with the digital world taking over reality and if used in the correct manner, there are benefits of online education. With zero in-person interaction, this method is the safest and most convenient way of communicating amidst the pandemic situation with the teachers.
3. Interactive and engaging content: It is vital for any virtual platforms to keep a close eye on student’s attention span and ensure that the content presented should be engaging and is in a simplified manner; not only it will motivate the students to open up but will also push them to participate in the classes; with the use of fun visual aid, diagrams, themes, quizzes aiding conceptual learning as opposed to content study.
4. 24×7 access to the study material: Online education being highly interactive poses multiple ways wherein a student can be taught without the time barrier. This has been broadly extended to attending webinars and online conferences where experts from different verticals discuss relevant topics for a deeper and better understanding on the subject rather than just a lecture. Due to tech advancements, students can have 24×7 access to the study material whenever and wherever they want.
5. Cost reduction element: Apart from the enrollment fee, the expense for online education is bare minimal, eliminating the commute and books cost. In comparison to traditional learning, the hard copies and other factors add up to the cost making it quite expensive. E-learning allows self-pace with students running their own learning adaptations.
Following are a few cons associated with E-learning:
1. Technical issues: The biggest shortcoming that online learning faces in India is technological infrastructure. Without a well-planned digital structure, this is quite a challenge for both students and teachers which has been witnessed for past years. Electricity being the core aspect for virtual classrooms both for powering the devices and internet connectivity, many of us do not have required access for the power, especially in the remote areas.
2. Screen time: It’s been more than a year now where the students turn on their computers to attend classes online. Online classes can lead to increased exposure to screens for students, which can adversely affect. This can be reduced if the laptops or computer screens are placed at an arm’s distance.
3. Difficulty in adapting: Few students find it difficult to adapt to the online learning environment and face issues to open-up and interact with their fellow students and teachers during the class. Students who have been always studying in the traditional method mindset are unable to focus on online platforms. It is important for them to accept this new learning with an open mind.
4. Faculty shift: The key driver for the virtual world is the adoption of technology. The new normal became a challenge for teachers who had to shift their approach overnight from classroom teaching to virtual teaching, having to adapt to the complex digital world and imbibing technical expertise.
Every form of technology comes with its advantages and disadvantages; it depends on us, the way we use it that much it can influence us. In this case of online learning, if used properly it can be a blessing. We used to consider e-learning to be a supplementary tool but now it has shifted to as a primary source of learning. Maintaining a healthy balance between classes and personal lives is imperative for any individual.