Is digital learning the ‘magic pill’ for education in the time of pandemic?
The move to contain coronavirus is pushing educators to bring much needed innovation in the teaching – learning process. With the lockdown keeping children ‘out of school’, online education has become the new norm, and is likely to change the way education is imparted in the future, with less dependency on the physical, in- class exchange.
Digital literacy, access to modern information and communication technology is at the center of this changing paradigm. While private institutions in metros are making headway in running online classrooms, one wonders at the plight of children in public schools, especially in rural India, where internet density is comparatively low.
Government schools pioneering digital learning
It is pleasing to see some States taking the lead on digital education. Public schools in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Odisha have come up with simple yet creative ways to ensure children’s learning during the lockdown, taking rapid steps through various “School from Home” initiatives.
As many as 5.25 lakh government school teachers are teaching nearly 1.5 crore students through WhatsApp, Zoom calls, and Google Meet. Additionally, teachers are keenly participating in discussions through online peer learning communities, via practice-based collaborative learning and action.
Poor access and quality of internet continue to be challenges, so these states are using alternative means such as radio, television, and phone calls to ensure children’s learning from home. In Madhya Pradesh, a radio program, “Radio School” aimed at children, parents and teachers is broadcast from 11a.m to 12 p.m on Vividh Bharti. Local cable channels are being used to streamline educational programs to facilitate learning of children from home
Other initiatives like digital content for students, tech based academic monitoring, and tech literacy trainings for teachers, are key steps that have helped set the foundation of digital education in 109 districts in these states. Leadership Training of Educators, Cultural Transformation in the Education System and VFS Centres helped to further strengthen the foundation, easing the transition of teaching from in-class learning to digital learning in the face of the pandemic.