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E-Learning during COVID-19

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 E-learning can be the saviour during times of crisis


Reekrit Serai, Managing Director, Satluj Group of Schools

The world has witnessed serious epidemics, such as COVID-19, which have had a lasting impact on life, economy and education. We have seen the Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2014-15 and in more recent times, COVID-19 creating havoc in 2019-20. Schools in China, Italy, Iran, United States, Adu Dhabi, Japan, France, South Korea, Pakistan and in parts of India including its capital have been closed for weeks and some even months. The question is how will students of these affected areas make up for the lost time when it comes to education? Reports claim that this educational upheaval due to COVID-19 has affected at least 300 million students globally.

With the COVID-19 spreading rapidly, 22 countries in 3 continents have announced school closures. The UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay has warned that “the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption in unparalleled.” According to reports by The New York times, 290.5 million students worldwide are suffering as a repercussion of COVID-19. So, if schools remain closed, it could have unforeseen repercussions on children and societies-at-large.

We need to, therefore, gear up and find some alternative solutions to curb this disaster.

Since students cannot go to school, school can be brought to them. Teachers can create a virtual classroom and continue with the classes. Distance Learning/ E-learning is the obvious option. Schools and Government officials have found ways to keep students learning and occupied at home. For instance, the Italian Government has created a web page to give access to video conferencing tools and ready-made lesson plans. In Mongolia, television stations are airing

. Iran’s government has made all children’s internet-content free. China and Abu Dhabi are offering online classes and free educational apps to continue with the syllabi.

Research by Logic Earth Learning Services has shown that 67% of people use their mobile phones to access learning of some sort. Data by Online Learning Statistics and Trends suggest that the E-Learning market is anticipated to reach $37.6 billion by 2020.

E-learning apps like Byju’s, EdX, Unacademy Leaning app, Extramarks, LinkedIn learning, ClassDojo, Science360, Quick Maths, Amazon Kindle, DragonBox, Youtube Kids, Edmodo etc. can be used by students as they contain excellent and attractive learning materials on various subjects that they study at school.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), one of India’s top national educational boards, has its own official learning app MyCbseGuide which contains interesting subject and topic-wise videos with detailed questions and answers, explanations and even several online tests on all subjects to assess learner’s progress.

For English, online tools like Literacy Planet can be used as it includes every literacy aspect of reading, speaking, listening and writing. BBC’s video based tool Muzzy is a great way to learn several languages. They offer story-based animated videos to teach children languages like English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, German, etc. Fiction Express is a wonderful way to engage students and make them part of the story direction by connecting them with professional authors. Website like Twinki offer a lot of free online resources for different subjects and fun activities and Physics Classroom offers tons of online and offline materials on Physics. It contains hand-outs, videos, concept builders and many more options to get students excited about Physics.

Distance education uses all forms of technology, which may include radio, television, audio-video conferencing/broadcasting, computer-aided instruction, online learning et al. Radio stations and television stations can be instrumental in broadcasting shows on various educational topics.

Skype and other forms of video chats too can be used to conduct classes in real-time wherein students can simultaneously talk to the teacher to clear concepts.

With Immersive Learning developed by EdTech companies like Early Adopter, educators have created Augmented-reality tutorials, which can even virtually transport students to space while reading a book on the same. Yellowbrick and InternView have created Industry-specific online programmes where they have collaborated with various colleges, universities, media outlets etc. to provide useful training for various industrial sectors. To ensure 100% student comprehension, Brainly and OneClass have created Seamless classrooms where they aim to connect the world as one collaborative learning group that is capable of adapting to the dynamic global topics and educational trends. Companies like Peachjar promotes parent-teacher collaboration and extracurricular activities through Big-Data analytics to discover new ideas, opportunities and resources available all across the country. Cartedo is a platform that provides students with future-readiness and design-thinking workshops to develop creative thinking.

With platforms like Mangahigh, Gamification is a new option that can be introduced into the classroom to ease understanding of even difficult subjects like Maths. It regulates its course based on the students’ learning capabilities and can help keep track of the learner’s progress and comprehension at various levels. AI-based platforms like Securly have created online spaces for young scholars that are safe and educate them on the risks of bullying and self-harm. It is instrumental in educating the students about Digital Safety. Companies like Mindvalley have collaborated with various institutions to impart online lessons on sustainability, life skills and all in all teach the meaning of life. It includes online sessions on communication, stress management, mental health, etc.

 (With inputs from Sayoni Bhattacharjee, Satluj Innovation Team)

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