IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 27th June 2020
“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.” –Bruce Feirstein
EDITORIAL HUNT 93 :“Online Education Comes with Several Cautions | UPSC“
Sujin Babu is a research scholar in the Department of History, Madras Christian College, Chennai.
The pandemic imposes a steep learning curve
Though online instruction will shape education in the future, there is much to absorb in the context of COVID-19
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Education
Online education has not lived up to its potential. This mode of Education comes with several cautions. Comment -(GS 3)
- Why online wins over offline ?
- How teachers are ill equipped for online mentoring.
- Way forward .
- ONLINE INSTRUCTIONS : Most instruction has moved online; across the country, schools, colleges, universities and research establishments have been shut with no idea of when it will be possible to safely reopen.
- MIXED RESPONSES : In the wake of the pandemic, other countries have embraced online education with mixed enthusiasm.
- ONLINE UNIVERSITIES : Many universities in the United Kingdom and the United States have announced that the coming academic year will be held mainly online.
- HETEROGENEOUS RESPONSE : The Indian education system has had a very heterogeneous response to the pandemic.
- RURAL VS URBAN SCENARIO : The reactions also reflect the contrast in rural versus urban infrastructure, the variable quality of staff, and the diverse types of subjects that are taught.
- TECHNOLOGICAL FORMAT : From a purely pedagogic point of view, it is clear that technology will play a bigger role in education in the coming years.
- ADOPTION AND INTEGRATION : The adoption or integration of technology in education also depends on the specific institution and its location.
- DIGITAL DIVIDE : there is a huge digital divide in the country in terms of bandwidth and reliable connectivity, as well as very unequal access to funding.
- RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS : Beyond classroom lectures and courses, there has been a serious impact on academic research in all disciplines.
- INTERACTION AND SUPERVISION : There is need for close personal interaction and discussion in research supervision, and it is not clear when and how doctoral research and supervision can resume.
THE HARD TRUTHS
- ACCESS TO INTERNET : Not all students have equal access to the Internet, and more than half in any class in any institution are simply not able to attend lectures in real time for want of the required combination of hardware and electrical connectivity in their homes.
- CAUTIOUS TEACHERS : Most teachers in India view online instruction with caution. The shift online is in response to a crisis and was poorly planned.
- RESOURCES AND TIME : One that requires investment of time and resources that very few teachers could come up with in a hurry.
- INEXPERIENCE : Many online classes are poorly executed video versions of regular classroom lectures.
- UNSATISFACTORY : Across the board, teachers recognise this as unsatisfactory.
- RESOURCES AVAILABLE : Online higher education using MOOCs, or massive open online classrooms, has been encouraged by the Ministry of Human Resource Development for some time now via the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) and SWAYAM platforms.
- QUALITY ENHANCEMENT : If this is to make a serious difference, both the quality and quantity of online courses need to be enhanced.
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE
This is a chance to re-imagine higher education in India.
- THIRST FOR LEARNING : For long this has been elitist and exclusionary; education has been less about learning and more about acquiring degrees.
- INCLUSIVE EDUCATION : Our higher education system can be more inclusive.
- IDEA OF EXAMS : If giving proctored examinations in a socially distanced world is more difficult, what needs to change is the idea of proctored examinations.
- DIGITAL AID :Digital tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) — already used in teaching language — can be adapted to deliver personalised instruction based on the learning needs for each student.
- DIFFERENTLY ABLED CHILDREN : The use of AI can improve learning outcomes; in particular, this can be a boon for teaching students who are differently-abled.
- DECENTRALISATION : What is needed at this time is imagination and a commitment to decentralisation in education.
- LINGUISTIC BARRIERS : Pedagogic material must be made available in our other national languages; this will extend access, and can help overcome staff shortages that plague remote institutions.
The state will have to bear much of the responsibility, both to improve digital infrastructure and to ensure that every needy student has access to a laptop or smartphone.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL | Online Education Comes with Several Cautions | UPSC