E-learning is the most promising venture in India, during the Covid-19 lockdown as the Indian government is investing to provide education to its residents, in order to increase the number of literates in the country. In developing nations like India, with limited resources, e-learning tools and platforms provide a chance to make education available to middle and low income households. E-learning platforms are being used by schools, colleges and universities to help provide students with study material upload lecture videos and conduct assignments and tests during the Covid-19 lockdown in India. This article gives insights about three different online services namely Google Classrooms, Zoom application and Microsoft Teams being used by three different educational institutions. We aimed to analyze the efficiency and acceptability of e-learning tools among Indian students during Covid-19 lockdown and found that the students are willing to incorporate online services and tools with their classroom teaching, by conducting surveys in three educational institutions that offer different educational degrees and courses to students.
Keywords E-learning, Google Classroom, Microsoft Team, online education, Zoom application.
E-learning and online education provides an opportunity to students to increase their knowledge base in a flexible environment, while using limited resources and capital. For a developing country like India, online tools can help students achieve effective and diverse education by incorporating various themes in different areas of interest. The online platforms are slowly gaining popularity due to improvement in design, visuals, ease of navigation and quality content. Many studies have shown that e-learning can help improve knowledge base and can make understanding of concepts easier by providing bite-sized, collaborative and interactive content. Studies have proven that personalized and assisted learning based curriculum is better than traditional curriculum. The best quality of education can be provided through e-learning tools by personalizing the guidance and mentorship according to the needs of students [1, 2]. The e-learning platforms give students flexibility and empowers students by allowing them to learn at their own pace and schedule. A student can choose the time and day they wish to learn or consume the content provided on these various platforms. We have material available at our disposal which can be either free of cost or paid, available for a lifetime or a limited amount of time. Moreover, the content consumed on an online platform is consistent and standardized in comparison to the different teaching styles of professors. A diverse range of options are provided to users by e-learning [3, 4]. Open online course providers like edX, Udacity, Coursera, Udemy provide both free and paid online courses which cover various topics from diverse fields. These online platforms not only fulfills the current need of educators but also creates new demands which then helps improve the current services being provided to students . There are websites like Geeksforgeeks, Tutorialspoint which enjoy popularity among engineering students. YouTube also provides content to students pursuing different majors and fields for example, Khan Academy is one of such YouTube Channels which helped build basic concepts of high school students by keeping the material easy to understand, engaging and interactive. The YouTube channel posts videos after thoroughly researching the topics to help students understand even the small and hidden concepts of mathematics .
In India, universities and colleges integrate the Internet and web pages in classroom teaching. Teaching staff makes lecture slides, assignments and important notifications available to the students via a course site. The study material may be downloadable as a PDF file or a PowerPoint file. Students may participate via online-discussion forums and examinations may be conducted by using an e-learning tool. However, despite the advancing technologies in higher education, institutes have failed to incorporate the e-learning practices in main-stream activities and tap the benefits of on-line learning . The teachers may be interested in adopting online tools but the students attitude and aptitude learning towards online platforms, standardization and interactive content of an online platform play key roles in determining the behavior roles of students towards the e-learning environment .
E-learning tools adopted during COVID-19 lockdown in India
On 25th March 2020 , India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a nationwide lockdown as a countermeasure to control the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown was later extended on 11th April 2020 in various states of India due to the increase in the number of coronavirus patients across different regions of the country. Universities, schools and educational institutions were closed and students went back to their homes, so, the educational institutions had to rely on e-learning and online education tools to provide students the necessary study material, schedule lectures and to conduct examinations. The lockdown acted as a catalyst to help teachers adopt online tools. As of April 2020, according to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, India, platforms like Diksha, e-pathshala, NROER, NIOS, e-yantra, FOSSEE are endeavors of the government to help educate the masses online. SWAYAM, an initiative by the Indian government gets 50,000 views daily. Some other online methods adopted in different universities across India are (1) For video and audio meetings, tools like Zoom, Loom, Gotomeeting, Skype, Bluejeans, Webex and Google meet are being used, (2) Discussion and collaboration boards make use of slack, flock, (3) Storage and sharing files is supported by Dropbox, Nextcloud, and (4) Document, presentation, spreadsheet, videos are made using G-suite, Prezi, GitBook, Confluence, Office365 , Adobe Acrobat. With teachers adopting and using e-learning techniques and tools to provide education to students, we aimed to analyze the efficacy and acceptability of teaching aids provided and adopted among students of educational institutions, during the Covid-19 lockdown in India, by conducting a survey in three different educational institutions.. The objective was to analyze if students are willing to adopt e-learning practices as part of their classroom learning by conducting surveys in different educational institutions.
While conducting the surveys at the three educational institutions it was presumed that the students had an internet connection, the students had access to a mobile or a laptop, previous knowledge to operate a mobile phones or personal digital device, students understood the default language of the platform, the students had a good internet connection and the sampling done can be mapped to larger scales with minimum errors.
Case Study 1 : Thapar Institute of Engineering And Technology, Patiala, India
TIET – Thapar Institute of Engineering And Technology is a private engineering college located in Patiala, Punjab, India. The educational institution offers various courses in different fields of engineering. The traditional methods used for classroom teaching are whiteboard, blackboard, and a smart board that enables teachers to display presentations and write notes. In the laboratories, computers and necessary hardware and software are provided to students for experimentation and performing assignments. Seventy five percent attendance is mandatory to pass a course. Each course has an official website where course coordinators post important information, syllabus, marking scheme, lecture slides and laboratory assignments. Details regarding quizzes and tests are notified to students via group representatives or via update on course site. Mid semester tests and end semester tests are conducted every semester which are scheduled according to a particular date sheet that is made available on the web portal – Webkiosk, which is allocated to every student. Apart from these official websites, students have access to myHerupa, an initiative taken by Thapar students where updates regarding coursework for each subject is made available for first year, second year and third year engineering students. During the Covid-19 lockdown, the college was temporarily shut down. All classroom activities and lectures were suspended on campus. Students and teaching faculty members went back to their homes, many situated far from college. The teachers of the university used e-learning tools and methods to provide education online to students. Lectures were pre-recorded and shared via WhatsApp, Google drive links. Videos of laboratory assignments were pre-recorded and uploaded on course sites. Many teachers scheduled live online lectures using the zoom application to make material accessible to students. Zoom Video Communications provides a remote conferencing service. It allows video conferencing of 100 participants up to forty minutes free of cost. Paid subscriptions are also available to allow more participants and to increase the time limit. The service also allows one-to-one video conferencing, group conferencing, allows users to message all members of a meeting at once or message a selective group of people , providing stimuli to activate students’ auditory and visual senses, thus enhancing and replicating their in-person interactions [9,10]. Slides were uploaded on the course site and students were notified. For the courses, Image processing (UCS615) and Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UTA012), third year students pursuing bachelors of engineering in computer science submitted their assignments via Google forums. A Google form was then circulated among the students of Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology where students answered questions regarding the e-learning platforms used by educators to impart education online.
Case study 2 : National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur, India
National Institute of Technology Hamirpur is a public college located at Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh, India. It is funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, India. It is an engineering college for undergraduate students and offers undergraduate degrees in various engineering courses. The on campus practices include classroom teaching using the tools such as whiteboards and blackboards. Teachers sometimes use slides to deliver their lectures. Apart from these tools, there is a web portal for students which notifies them about their semester grades. All relevant information is circulated using messaging applications like WhatsApp. The use of smartphones helps make material accessible to students . To make study material available and to conduct tests for first year computer programming students, during the Covid-19 lockdown, Google classroom has been adopted by the professors of the institute. To use this platform a user has to sign in to the Google classroom and while using the G Suite for Education account, the user clicks on whether they are a teacher or student. The G Suite account is set up by an accredited school. Using Google classroom services, slides are uploaded and assignments given to the students. This study material is available to the students via Google classroom and they turn in their assignments by submitting them to a private electronic mail account. Video links are also provided using Google classroom. The marks and grades of students are made available on the platform. Timed and pre-scheduled quizzes are also being conducted via this platform. The Digital Image Processing assignment, it is a subject offered at the university to the students, was submitted via the Google Classroom platform. A survey was conducted by circulating a Google forum among the first year students pursuing masters in technology in computer vision to gain the feedback and viewpoint of students on e-learning tools and teaching aids being provided during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Case study 3 : Manav Rachna International School, Mohali, India
Manav Rachna International School is a private school for primary and secondary education. The school has traditional tools like whiteboards and blackboards to teach students from class one till class tenth. The school also has smart boards, smart class and projector which allows teachers to display slides, play videos and make interactive content for the students. The pupils of a class make notes in their personal notebooks. These notebooks may be evaluative or checked by an assigned teacher. During the Covid-19 lockdown the online education tool being used is Office365, a solution provided by Microsoft. The products provided by Office365 to educators and teachers include Outlook, Teams, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher and Access, according to the official Office365 website. The school is using the e-learning tool Teams provided by Office365. The lockdown initiated the process of providing official IDs to teachers and the students using manavrachna.net. The teachers are able to make various teams for different classes. The chat option allows teachers to chat to parents and students either one to one or by making a group consisting of all students or a selective set of students. The assignment section provided by Teams allows teachers to post assignments. Its design notifies teachers if a student has viewed the assignment, has turned in the assignment and if the student has not opened the assignment by displaying view, turned in and not turned in respectively. The students can submit their assignments by clicking on the add work button to upload their solved assignments. The class notebook section allows students to solve mathematics questions easily due to user friendly design. It allows the teachers to view all the notebooks at once, however, the students can only view their notebook. The quizzes and tasks assigned may be timed and time bounds are facilitated by the class notebook section. The files tab allows the teachers to post relevant study material or reading material for students to view. Along with these tabs and options the post tab is used to view all the notifications, tasks and assignments uploaded by the teachers of different subjects for a team. The students from class one to class nine were surveyed to gain insight about the acceptability of e-learning tools being used to combat Covid-19 lockdown among young children, aged between 5 years to 15 years of age.
Assessment and Feedback
Results from case study 1 : Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology
The students pursuing bachelors in engineering in different majors at Thapar Institute of Technology were surveyed were surveyed. Out of 167 students surveyed, 126 were male and 41 female. 43.1% were third year students going to fourth year while 31.1%, 21% and 4.8% were first year, second year and fourth year students respectively. The survey was conducted in April 2020 and questions included the most important feature for students for an e-learning platform, there preferred choice of online education tools, how often were users using Zoom application to view live college lectures on a weekly basis, if users were satisfied with the e-learning methods adopted by their institution and if the user thinks that educational institutions should adopt tools provided by e-learning platforms on a daily basis. 118 students out of 167 students regarded quality of services provided by e-learning platforms as an important feature, while 101 students and 81 students were in support of ease of accessibility and user interface respectively. Other students regarded the price point of e-learning tools to be the most important feature of an e-learning platform. 70.7% of the students surveyed preferred pre-recorded video lectures provided via YouTube links as the most convenient e-learning tool. Pre-recorder lectures provided via Google Drive links and Slides uploaded on course sites enjoyed a majority of 71 students and 77 students respectively. 33.5% students agreed that the e-learning tools used by professors were satisfactory and beneficial, whereas 32,9% somewhat agreed. 52.7% of students agreed on using the Zoom application to view live lectures at least 3 times a week. Majority of the students that is 60.5% were not satisfied by the e-learning methods adopted by the institute, however, 49.7% students thought that educators should try to adopt tools provided by online education platforms on a daily basis.
Table 1 Students response to survey conducted regarding e-learning practices adopted by teaching faculty of Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology.
|SI No||Item||Students (n=167) (max.=167)||Male (n=126)||Females (n=41)|
|Distribution of students as first year, second year, third year and fourth year students|
|1||First year students||52||32||20|
|2||Second year students||35||25||10|
|3||Third year students||72||61||11|
|4||Fourth year students||8||8||0|
|The most important feature of an e-learning platform. (Multiple choice correct)|
|1||User Interface is the most important feature of e-learning platforms.||81||61||20|
|2||Quality of service is the most important feature of e-learning platforms||118||93||25|
|3||Ease of access is the most important feature of e-learning platforms.||101||77||24|
|The preferred choice of e-learning tool during Covid-19 lockdown. (Multiple Choice Correct)|
|1||Pre-recorded lectures shared via YouTube links are a preferred choice of online education tools during COVID-19 lockdown||118||95||23|
|2||Pre-recorded lectures shared via Google Drive links are a preferred choice of online education tools during COVID-19 lockdown.||70||55||15|
|3||Google Slides uploaded on official course site are a preferred choice of online education tools during COVID-19 lockdown.||77||60||17|
|4||Live Lectures using Zoom Application are the preferred choiceofonlineeducationtoolsduring COVID-19 lockdown.||27||29||28|
|How frequently was the Zoom application used weekly to access lectures? (Single Choice Correct )|
|1||Zoom application used at least thrice a week to access live lectures.||88||65||23|
|2||Zoom application used twice a week to access live lectures.||30||22||8|
|3||Zoom application used once a week to access live lectures.||49||39||10|
|Should e-learning tools be adopted in daily classroom teaching ? (Single Choice Correct)|
|1||E-learning tools should be or maybe adopted in the daily classroom teaching.||30||22||8|
|2||Zoom application used twice a week to access live lectures.||128||98||30|
|2||E-learning tools should not be adopted in the daily classroom teaching.||39||28||11|
Results from case study 2: National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur
16 first year students pursuing computer vision at National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur (NIT-H) were surveyed in April 2020. Out of 16 students, 5 were females and 11 were males. Google Classroom services were being used during Covid-19 lockdown, at the time of survey. The questions included in the survey were if Google Classroom was helpful in teaching outside the classroom, what was the best feature of Google Classrooms according to the students, if students were satisfied with Google Classroom teaching, if the submission of assignment for Digital Image Processing using the Google Classroom was convenient, was it easy to conduct quizzes on the online platform, if it is easy to access Google Classroom material, if laptop or mobile devices were preferred to access Google Classroom, what was the best feature of the platform provided according to students, what was another online educational tool that students preferred, what were the advantages of online education according to students, if the students were satisfied with the online learning tool adopted by the university and if students wanted to incorporate few features of online education with daily classroom teaching. For a few questions responses were recorded on a scale of one to five, one being unsatisfactory and 5 being satisfactory. 81.3%thought that the ease of accessibility was the best feature of Google Classrooms, and pre-recorded lectures shared via YouTube links enjoyed a majority of 13 students out of 16 as the preferred online education tool. Majority students voted for flexibility of schedule as the advantage of online education.
Table 2 Students response to survey conducted regarding e-learning practices adopted by teaching faculty of National Institution of Technology, Hamirpur.
|Month||Item||Students (n=16)||Males (n=11)||Females (n=5)|
|The most important feature of an e-learning platform. (Multiple choice correct)|
|1||Ease of accessibility is the most importantfeatureof e-learning platforms.||13||8||5|
|2||User Interface is the most important feature of e-learning platforms.||7||5||2|
|3||Quality of Services is the most important feature of e-learning platforms.||9||7||2|
|The preferred choice of e-learning tool during Covid-19 lockdown, other than Google Classroom. (Multiple Choice Correct|
|1||Pre-recorded lectures sharedviaYouTubelinksarea preferred choice of online education tools during COVID-19 lockdown||13||8||5|
|2||Pre-recorded lectures shared via Google Drive links are a preferred choice of online education tools during COVID-19 lockdown.||2||2||0|
|2||Live lectures via Zoom or Google meet are a preferred choice of online education tools during COVID-19 lockdown.||1||1||0|
|What are the benefits of e-learning? (Multiple Choice Correct)|
|1||With online learning there is ease of access||11||7||4|
|2||With online learning there is consistency||7||5||2|
|3||With online learning there is flexibility of schedule.||13||8||5|
|4||With online learning there is use of limited resources.||8||5||3|
|Is the student satisfied with the e-learning tools adopted by theinstitute during Covid-19 lockdown? (Single Choice Correct)|
|1||Satisfied or maybe satisfied with the e-learning methods adopted by the institute during COVID-19 lockdown.||16||11||5|
|2||Not satisfied with thee-learning method sadopted by the institute during COVID-19 lockdown.||0||0||0|
|Should the features of online learning be adopted into daily classroom teaching? (Single Choice Correct)|
|1||Some features of online learning should be or may be adopted in daily classroom teachin||15||10||5|
|1||Some features of online learning should not be adopted in daily classroom teaching.||1||1||0|
Table 3 Students response to survey conducted regarding Google Classroom practices adopted by teaching faculty of National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being maximum. The values are approximated.
|SI No||Items||Students (n=16) (max=5)||Males (n=11)||Females (n=5)|
|1||Google Classrooms helped in teaching outside of the classroom.||4.125||4.182||4|
|2||Students are satisfied with Google Classroom as an e-learning tool during Covid-19 lockdown.||4.187||4.273||4|
|3||Submission of Digital image processing assignment using Google Classroom was convenient.||4.500||4.636||4.2|
|4||It was convenient to answer quizzes on Google Classroom.||4.187||4.272||4|
|5||It is easy to access learning material in Google Classroom.||4.812||4.818||4.8|
|6||It was easier to use Google Classroom on laptop than on Mobile.||3.937||3.909||4|
Results from case study 3 : Manav Rachna International School
Out of 91 students surveyed, 49 (53.85%) students were males and 42 (46.15%) students were females. 98.90% students were satisfied with Microsoft Teams tool being used during Covid-19 lockdown. Students preferred interaction and personalization as 76.92% students favored the Chat/Call option of the Microsoft teams application. 61.54% , 25.27%, 23.07%, 38.46% students liked the assignment tab, post section tab, files tab and class notebook tab feature respectively.90.10% students felt that they could achieve their learning outcomes vis Microsoft Teams application being used during Covid-19 lockdown.49.45%,42.85% and 39.5% students felt that ease of access, flexibility of schedule and interactive bite sized content are the benefits of e-learning platforms.84.61% students were in the favor of adoption of online learning tools into daily classroom teaching.
Table 4 Students response to survey conducted regarding e-learning practices adopted by teaching faculty of Manav Rachna International School, Mohali.
|SI No||Item||Students (n=91)||Males (n=49)||Females (n=42)|
|Students division among various levels from nursery to class 9.|
|1||Nursery and Kindergarten||42||21||21|
|Are students satisfied with Microsoft Teams tool being used during Covid-19 lockdown? (Single Answer Correct)|
|1||Students are satisfied or maybe satisfied by the Microsoft Team tool being used during Covid-19 lockdown||90||47||42|
|2||Students are not satisfied by Microsoft Teams tool being used during Covid-19 Lockdown.||1||1||0|
|Features of Microsoft Teams preferred by students (multiple answers correct)|
|1||The Chat/Call Tab feature supported by Teams is liked by the students||70||37||33|
|2||The Assignment Tab feature supported by Teamsis liked by the students.||56||29||37|
|3||The Post Section Tab feature supported by Teams is liked by the students.||23||11||12|
|4||The Files Section feature supported by Teams is liked by the students.||21||10||11|
|5||The Class notebook Tab feature supported by Teams is liked by the students.||35||20||15|
|Are students able to achieve their learning outcomes through e-learning ? (Single Choice Correct)|
|1||You will be or may be able to achieve the required learning outputs from these sessions?||82||41||41|
|2||You will not be able to achieve the required learning outputs from these sessions.||9||8||1|
|What are the benefits of e-learning ? (Multiple Choice Correct)|
|1||With online learning there is ease of access.||45||25||20|
|2||With online learning there is flexibility of schedule||39||18||21|
|3||With online learning there can be interactive content.||36||16||20|
|Should the features of online learning be adopted into daily classroom teaching? (Single Choice Correct)|
|1||Some features of online learning should be or maybe adopted in daily classroom teaching.||77||41||36|
|2||Some features of online learning should be or maybe adopted in daily classroom teaching.||14||8||6|
The three educational institutions surveyed differ at the level of education or degree being provided to students, the online platform being used by teachers to help make material available to students during Covid-19. Zoom, Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams were not previously used by TIET, NIT-H, Manav Rachna International School respectively. Apart from TIET, students at NIT-H and Manav Rachna International School were satisfied by the e-learning platforms being used during Covid-19 lockdown. From the survey conducted at Thapar Institution of Engineering and Technology we came to know that even if 60.4% of students were not satisfied with the e-learning practices being used by their institution during Covid-19 lockdown, 49.7% students were still willing to incorporate e-learning practices in their daily classroom education. From the three surveys conducted it can be that the majority of students are willing to adopt the e-learning platforms features in their daily classroom teaching. Out of 274 students, 220 that is, 80.2% students felt that e-learning platforms features should be or maybe integrated with the daily classroom teaching. Maximum number of students that is 73.59%, of both the universities preferred pre-recorded lectures being provided via YouTube links as the preferred means of e-learning practice during Covid-19.YouTube links allow students to access the videos any time they like, making the material easily accessible and providing flexibility of schedule. Out of the students who answered what feature of online education is preferred by them, 52.3% supported ease of access and 48.5% supported flexibility of schedule. . Students preferred interaction and personalization as 76.92% students favored the Chat/Call option of the Microsoft teams application at Manav Rachna International School. At National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur 100% students were satisfied with the Google Classroom practices adopted by their institution and at Manav Rachna international School, Mohali 98.90% of students were satisfied with Microsoft Teams platform adopted during Covid-19 platform. To access these platforms a mobile device and an internet connection is required. It is necessary for the student to be proficient in English Language, which is the standard or default language for many e-learning platforms.
There are 560 million internet connections in India, making it the second largest online market in the world after China. During the Covid-19 lockdown in India institutions have adopted many e-learning practices. With the world moving towards digitization, Covid-19 may act as a catalyst to make education online. With students and teachers using these services to educate themselves and masses, new problems and solutions may be discovered which may help popularize online education in India.
Table 5 Students from three institutions response towards adoption of e-learning practices in daily classroom education.
|SI No||Item||Students from all three institutions (n=274)||Males (n=186)||Females (n=88)|
|Should the features of online learning be adopted into daily classroom teaching? (Single Choice Correct).|
|1||Some features of online learning should be or maybe adopted in daily classroom teaching.||220||149||71|
|2||Some features of online learning should not be adopted in daily classroom teaching.||54||37||17|
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