Will Home Schooling Outlive The Covid Crisis?

When the Covid Crisis ends, should schools return to status quo. This is the question dodging the minds of education fraternity in India and elsewhere

By Namrata Kohli
Is online schooling the new normal. Are virtual classes better than real. Is education system in for a paradigm change. These were some of the questions raised at a webinar hosted by FICCI and upGrad titled ‘Global Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities for EdTech.’
According to Ronnie Screwvala, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, upGrad, a niche online education service provider- “Today more than ever before, we are at an interesting crossroads when online is in spotlight and it’s been evangelised by everyone. Even the sceptics are now turning evangelists.” He added that going to any particular institution is a one-time event, but learning is not an event but a lifelong process. And for that, you don’t have a choice but to look at online education.”
Industry insiders are of the view that there will be a sea change in business model of schools and colleges, in the post Covid period. Poonam Jamwal, Director, Extramarks, made a point that future belongs to 50 percent online and 50 percent offline in schools and colleges. There will be redundancy of physical books which will be replaced by apps and all assessments will go online. The new business model that will emerge out of this crisis is  online plus offline, she said.
But educationists like Dr. Biswajit Saha, Director -Training & Skill Education, CBSE and Nandita Abraham, President, Pearl Academy, spoke in favour of ‘synchronous’ learning. Said Dr Saha- we need a “balanced approach” and holistic education, otherwise just studying from home can have a psychological impact on students especially from classes 1 to 8. But he voted for technology in its ability to reach the masses. Said Dr Saha- “Creating quality content in multiple Indian languages is now important. Redesigning of textbook based education content to cover learning outcomes is essential.”
Sometime back, online schooling seemed a far-fetched idea. “What we thought would come up in ten years has come in ten days,” said Shweta Rajpal Kohli Co-Chair, FICCI EdTech Task Force and Director, Govt Affairs – Salesforce India & South Asia, adding that educational institutions have now tasted the success of technology. Everyone has understood the benefits of online learning. This has created a new generation of educators and learners. It is now proving that we need to be lifelong learners –almost anyone can be a learner and almost anyone can be an educator. It doesn’t matter whether you are 6 or 60 year old, so long as you are tech savvy.
A question was raised whether online learning bridges the gap from haves and have nots? To make online revolution an equalizer, rather than be restricted to a privileged few, government must ensure that infrastructure is accessible to the villages and that power supply is consistent.
Experts were of the view that policy makers must also see that instead of degrees, there could be weightage given to online certifications and vocational training which is more relevant.
Currently the models are free or affordable. But we need for-profit models, said Ronnie Screwvala-“That’s when we will get scale, quality and outcomes.” He added that in the job market, the real pain points will come when the organisations churn and “this may not be  six months down the line, but an year- the question is when they do churn, would you want to be in the top fifty percentile? If yes, there is no choice but to upgrade your skills with online learning.”
My Take:

The world of online schooling has opened a sea of positives- I can see children learning more at home without having to undergo sweat, toil and struggle of commute. The time and energy children they save, can be invested in doing a few other things and focussed learning. There is a remarkable increase in productivity. But ask the children and they will tell you how much they miss their school, their friends, sports activities and how their workload has increased substantially. An “only virtual” format makes Jack a dull boy – there is no person-to-person connect and this does not make for holistic development, at least not at the school level.
The other thing is eye issues. I can already see kids going from one screen to another- laptop for studies, mobile to send messages on whatsapp groups, finally TV for some entertainment. Excess of screen time can be a problem.
Online should be harnessed for its benefits but offline should be retained definitely at school level.. So, my vote goes for a hybrid model – a mix of both. For executive education may be online has way more benefits than offline. Every segment, needs to be addressed differently and there can be no one-size-fits-all.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *