Neeta Bali Director
Expert View

LEARNING DURING COVID TIMES

By Dr Neeta Bali,  Director- Principal, G D Goenka World School, Gurugram

A sudden outbreak of Covid-19 caused by a Corona Virus has changed education forever. The pandemic has become a global health issue and has had a profound impact on education. This has resulted in schools shut all across the globe, challenged the education system and forced educators to shift to an online method of teaching overnight.  Globally, more than 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom. Due to which the education system has changed dramatically, with the rise of e-learning platforms. Research suggests that online learning has been shown to increase sharing and retention of information taking less time, which suggests that the changes Covid-19 have caused might be here to stay.

The new hybrid model of education has definitely changed the way of teaching and will emerge, with significant benefits. Like the integration of information technology in education should be further accelerated and that online education can be an integral component of education in our schools. The incorporation of technological resources and innovative education strategies will further transform the teaching and learning processes throughout the masses, enabling teachers to reach out to students more efficiently and effectively through chat groups, video meetings, WhatsApp and also document sharing during this pandemic that students also find natural to communicate. In other words, traditional offline learning and e-learning can go hand in hand in the future as well. A mode of learning which is easily accessible and can even reach rural and remote areas, a relatively cheaper mode of education in terms of the lower transportation cost, accommodation cost, and the overall cost of campus-based learning which has comparatively less flexibility. Many schools plan to make e-learning part of their “new normal” after experiencing the benefits first-hand.

As per the latest research, online learning can be more effective. It shows that on average, students retain 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom. Students are able to retain faster online. E-learning requires 40-60% less time to learn than in a traditional classroom setting because students can learn at their own pace, going back and re-reading, skipping, or accelerating through concepts as they choose. However, it depends on the age groups if online classes are as effective as we thought they would be. Younger ones, require a structured environment, to avoid them being distracted. There needs to be a concerted effort to provide this structure and go beyond replicating a physical class/lecture through video capabilities, instead, using a range of collaboration tools and engagement methods.

However, the greatest challenge of learning during these times is that some students without reliable internet access and/or technology struggle to participate in digital learning; this gap is seen across countries and between income brackets within countries. The percentage of students using computers for learning varies from student to student. There is a significant gap between those from privileged and disadvantaged backgrounds which causes the concern of widening the digital divide in many countries.

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