Santhosh Ram Chary: COVID-19 can make e-learning go viral

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G. Santhosh Ram Chary

Where is a problem, there is an opportunity for new things and the recent coronavirus is no different. As the COVID-19 spreads, all the schools and educational institutions are shut down across the country until further notice.

During this crisis, India being one of the strong competitors in scientific and technological advanced member of the global community has much to contribute to the world, and not just in traditional Indian subjects. There is an enormous intellectual capital, and the challenge is in mobilizing.

With high regulation and increasing infrastructure costs associated with offline channels of education, we Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul International School, Hyderabad, have motivated our educators to give Ed-tech its due respect and will start complimenting it with pure play K-12curriculum. We believed this exercise will give educators adequate data points to map the learning trends of our students on a case specific basis. This also encourages the teachers to design pedagogies that are personalized and serve heterogeneous classrooms. In the wake of the emergency, educational institutions around the world is shifting to Online Learning or Digital Learning.

This disruption is one that the edu-tech industry and institutions must be ready for in India too. Online learning, thus, may be thrust in to the spotlight, even if under unfortunate circumstances.

Even without the alarm bells ringing, edu-tech is an idea whose time has come. And India’s educational landscape is ripe for the massive disruption it can potentially cause.

A large chunk of India’s education system is fractured, and the graduating students are unable to meet the talent requirement set forth by India Inc. Trying to fill this void are the ed-tech players that have taken the lead in emerging academic areas such as Artificial intelligence (AI), Data Analytics and Block Chain. Accessibility of smart phones and cheap cellular data plans will aid innovations in ed-tech.

The COVID- 19 pandemic is just created the planetary turmoil across the continents and oceans. However in India, with the disease spreading to more regions, state governments are closing down educational institutions as a precautionary measure, resulting in disruption of studies momentarily. Mass shutdown of schools and colleges is also on the cards in the countries like Australia, New Zealand. In the US, Harvard and the University of Washington have already taken that path.

We have prepared a brief/ specific micro-schedule for this unanticipated academic interruption and assigned the subject-wise project works for all levels of students by fixing the date for online submission of those assignments at our official website. Apart from this, we recommended/ suggested the students, parents and other stakeholders few free online ed-tech services, who are offering free online learning modules and strategies right at this movement.

We are now looking forward for the assistance from digital learning sources or channels, keeping in view of future requirements, if any.

The Ed-tech digital learning giants like; Byju’s, Toppr, Vedanta, etc, are now playing a similar role to that of armed/ security forces during this national emergency.

Given that the traditional focus has been on offline centers of education, I believe a mix of offline and online is what will rule the roost going forward (As even human touch is mandatory for learning procedures). But, during the risk of this turmoil, we thought that, online tutoring platforms and online tutors can help the students study from the comforts and safety of their homes.

“While Temporary school closures as a result of heath and other crises are not new, unfortunately, the global scale and the speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the Right to Education”, said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

Parents work from home & Children study from home. However, this pandemic taught many lessons to the human kind, which is a clear indication for “requirement of technology for 21st century’s education”.

(G. Santhosh Ram Chary, Principal, Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul International School, Hyderabad.)

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