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Education Landscape from Brick & Mortar to Click & Mortar

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The education landscape of today and the future is “click and mortar”. It not only appeals to those born in the new millennium or Generation Z as they are fondly referred to, but it also focuses on acquiring skill sets through a virtual medium. The new generation expects educational institutions to provide knowledge through mobile digital devices, platforms and other similar channels. As technology has made it possible for educators to reach a broader spectrum of students, it can safely be predicted that the strongest educational institutions will be the ones whose brand is founded on the “brick and mortar” model with the adoption of virtual education, making them a “click and mortar” as well.

The advent of the “click and mortar” education system has brought several changes with it. These changes, which Elearning has initiated, have sparked a revolution in the way education is imparted and received. The query that comes to mind here is, “What exactly are these changes?”

Elearning has and continues to influence education in three important arenas. First, by easing access to education, Elearning gives students the luxury of learning from within the comfort of their homes by using internet-connected devices like tablets, computers, and smartphones. It is essentially self-paced.

Second, eLearning provides quality education to students. This student- centric mode of learning assures learners of updated knowledge. Online guided discussions with professors and lecturers are a hallmark of eLearning, which allows sharing of expertise where both, the teacher and the student gain simultaneously.

Thirdly, eLearning gives students access to specialized courses that may not be available locally. It enables access to education that is not readily available in certain geographic locations.

It is a fact that the brick and mortar framework is still the mainstay of our education system as there are undeniable advantages to learning in a shared physical space. However, online education is progressively gaining popularity. The autonomy and flexibility that these courses offer make them extremely popular with working professionals and students. The entire eLearning industry landscape is changing rapidly. It is characterized by emerging trends which will be more evident in the future.

Artificial intelligence is emerging as an integral part of the eLearning ecosystem. We see several AI educational solutions coming to the fore. It is predicted that AI can fill the need-gaps in learning and teaching. It is expected to broaden the purview of schools and teachers. For example, Machine Learning, which is a subsection of AI, helps in assessing the ability of the student to answer questions correctly or a student’s performance on a related topic and more.

Microlearning is another trend that is catching up quickly. It is also referred to as bite-sized learning and includes short learning nuggets of 3 to 5 minute duration, designed to meet a specific learning outcome. The accessibility of microlearning on multiple devices like smartphones, desktops, tablets, and laptops combined with their brevity makes them extremely popular in the education system.

The importance of personalized education is slowly sinking in. Personalized attention to each student becomes possible with Elearning. It offers the freedom of customizing the lesson according to the needs of the student. The learners of today want a learning experience that fits their learning speed, personal needs, preferred learning style, and their learning pathway.

With the increasing adoption of edtech in educational institutions and an influx of educational technologies, it is very likely that the future years will see further integration of technologies like Blockchain, Cloud computing, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching) classrooms and Edge Computing in the field of education.

In the age bracket of 5-24 years, India has the world’s largest population of about 500 million. With the paid online subscribers in the edtech sector witnessing a massive surge from 1.6 million in 2016, to almost 6 times more in the current year, the country is set to become the second-largest market for eLearning after the US.

“Click and mortar” education has triggered the concept of blended education where students can enjoy a combination of the traditional “brick and mortar” learning with the benefits of eLearning. This is in fact a boon to the education industry with both students and teachers reaping the best of both worlds.

The article is authored by Prof. Aindril De, Director – Academics, Amity University Online.

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