“Online learning is not the next big thing, it is the now big thing.” – Donna J. Abernath
Education is the very backbone of human civilization. From time immemorial, the practice of imparting knowledge has been in existence in different ways across the world. Like every other aspect, education too has evolved by adapting to the circumstances and needs of each era and reached its present state. The education system has evolved from the Gurukula System to Vedic schools of the medieval period and finally to the modern education system which is the existing one. Over the years, several models of education have mixed and merged to suit the need of the society.
With the advent of technology, e-learning was assimilated into the teaching-learning process. There has been a radical change in the Indian education system from teaching religion, Vedas, scriptures, etc to coaching technologies like virtual reality, programming, and others. This is the age of online education which is prevalent in higher education and is rapidly gaining roots in schools’ education too. Traditional schooling is now seeing an increased proliferation of virtual training materials by incorporating animations that can be used interactively for effective teaching, and communication. The younger generation of the 21st century is much more advanced and the same old teaching techniques and methods do not fit.
We need to understand and accept the fact that in this modern age, while the old age method of classroom studies is still relevant, online education has moved into the mainstream of the higher education ecosystem. The ability of the students is many folds. We can tap into their potential only if we are able to provide an appropriate environment. Reforming education and developing a culture where every child aspires to learn, is a must. An innovative approach to online education can nurture each student’s passion to learn, grow, and to explore. Here, the matter of concern is safe handling of technology, apt education system, set routines, staying focused, etc. which are considered the demerits of online education particularly for students of K-12. Every problem comes as a challenge to look for a solution.
Virtual classes or online education is the answer to it. Let us have a look at what a virtual class would be like and how online learning could work fine for a school student. Students could receive high-quality, personalized education experience online in their home or on the road, wherever an internet connection is available. There are a number of types of online education like Virtual learning, Blended learning, Insight Learning, etc. One or more may be included in the learning process.
This setup would require a student to attend online lessons, participate in interactive activities, and attend virtual classroom sessions in the Online School. One-on-one interaction with teachers and classmates would be done online or by phone. Guidance would be provided from their ‘Learning Coach’ i.e. the teacher, to ensure they are making progress during the day. They would also have to participate in planned activities with parent’s support. Like the traditional school, they would attend their virtual classes too. The same grading and exam patterns could be followed.
The obvious question that arises is, as to how is it beneficial? Why should it replace or blend with the current pattern of the teaching-learning process?
It must, because change is the need of the hour, bagging a number of undeniable merits.
- Personalized Learning – Digital devices are used to develop such software that can cater to the need of all the students, based on their academic potential, strengths, weaknesses, aptitude and learning pace. The ‘one size fits all’ teaching model is being supplemented by adaptive, personalized learning pedagogies. Precise, mobile and reliable applications can be created to teach students, help them practice their learnings, take assignments and manage their schedule.
- Quality Education System– The curriculum is developed with a team of education experts. Master teachers, cognitive scientists, subject-matter experts, technologist, interactive designers, writers, and researchers are taken as supporting heads to adhere to the needs of every enrolled student for imparting quality education.
- Synchronous Learning – This helps students connect with people across the globe at the same time. Web conference tools, live chats, webinars, video conferencing helps students and teachers to collaborate and learn in real-time. This helps a student become active in the larger competitive world.
- Cost and Time Effective – There is a lack of costly and tiring travel involved, with much greater dependability of lessons. Whether disrupting transport is almost irrelevant. The same time and energy can be constructively utilized in other activities.
- Parents Involvement – With the online setup at home or other accessible locations, the parents’ involvement becomes obvious. They can monitor the lessons and reports of the child. They act as anchors and mentors, curating the kind of educational content students are exposed to.
- Greater Flexibility – This is suitable as it provides greater flexibility for students under some kind of medical treatment, students who need more support academically, for more involvement of parents, for career-oriented advanced learners and even for students whose parents are into such services that are transferable, affecting their studies. Self-learners or gifted students can explore learning beyond the standard curriculum.
- Develops High Order Skills – Online education develops higher-order skills such as collaborating across time and place and solving complex real-world problems, better than in-class learning. This also develops critical thinking ability thus assisting in developing responsible global citizenship.
- Develops Autonomy – As students progress to higher classes, they seek more autonomy and intellectual freedom. Online learning can help them pursue highly individualized learning programs, possibly even college-level courses. These, combined with hands-on exercises, real-world exploration, and thorough assessments, can be highly beneficial to their learning progress.
In addition to this, there are several other benefits. This system of education is highly cost-effective, it works as equalizers in society, helps to impart education in rural and lesser developed areas, adept students for online research, etc.
If not complete online education, a middle track can always be experimented with. A few days of the traditional school involving face-to-face interaction with virtual classes can be fun. The younger generation is pretty handy with the use of technology. Their curiosity can be tapped into exploring and creating something new by making the system flexible. Social gatherings involving parents and teachers, forming clubs, holding camps, can be included in the curriculum.
It’s time to embrace the future of education, driven by virtual learning technologies, to foster a love for learning that extends far beyond virtual classrooms. Innovative methods can be tailored into our education system to thread the mind with critical thinking and analytical skills to build the fabric of creativity. The power lies in inspiring brilliance and igniting the passions of each student by having an appropriate approach to the teaching-learning process.