Opinion: Online Learning is here to stay, educators need to accept it and handhold kids

By Ankur Dhawan

Photo: Nick Morrison

Ed-tech or education technology has been continuously in the news for last 4-5 years. Ed-tech firms have been evolving their models to increase the adoption of their products and have been struggling with the huge task of changing the mindsets of parents. COVID-19, despite being challenging for humanity, has turned out to be a demonetization moment for ed-tech.

The COVID pandemic which has caused indefinite closure of all educational institutions has forced its acceptability among students and parents. As the possibility of complete wash-out of the 2020-21 academic session looms large, online learning is here to stay longer. It is obvious that policymakers, educators, and parents will resist the change, as is seen in many states where online teaching is being banned for certain age groups. Now, it is a responsibility of us educators that instead of resisting this change, we adopt it for the better future of our students. 

Questions we need to answer are:  how do we make it effective? how do we make it a credible supplement to the face-to-face or offline teaching-learning practices? How can it bring more convenience to the learners? 

The adoption of online learning has its own unique challenges, especially for students from lower family income backgrounds. A student survey that we did at Buddy4Study indicated that students needed a strong support mechanism to get into online learning mode. In the survey conducted on 3,000 students, more than 75 % of students said they find it difficult to pursue an online course as they have never done it before. Further, about 90 % of students mentioned that they needed handholding to make a shift towards online learning. 

Clearly, the sudden change in the learning mode is creating a major cognitive challenge for students. To cope with this challenge, online learning must integrate all the major components – learning material, live classes, problem-solving activities, query resolution sessions, feedback mechanism and assessment– in such a way that students start enjoying it.

Hand Holding is the Key!

As many students are entering into the online learning space for the first time amid the COVID-19 crisis, the sudden adoption of the virtual mode poses many challenges.  This demands a support mechanism where students are not only helped in onboarding on the online learning platform but they are also provided with regular support so that their learning process becomes easier.

The handholding for online learning must begin with finding the right learning material for the students followed by imparting them a know-how of best learning practices. 

At Buddy4Study, we have created a Learning Management System, where we have curated self-paced video learning material for senior and higher secondary students. Our team also helps students in using the platform and resolves any technical query they raise during the learning activity. 

Blended Model can Work Wonders

Online learning can also offer a self-paced learning environment to the students so that it brings convenience as well as ease of learning to students.

This can be done through a blended online learning model. The teaching-learning process can be designed as a mix of self-learning videos and online connected classes where students consume pre-recorded online videos for conceptual understanding and then go through live online sessions with teachers to clarify doubts and undertake specific exercises. 

This brings twin advantages. First, students can learn through pre-recorded videos even without internet access. Second, it allows students to take recorded sessions as many times as they wish as per their own schedule before actually going into interactive live online classes. 

Feedback and Assessment – Making it Productive 

To make online learning meaningful and productive, students must be provided with a strong feedback mechanism. This will help students to understand any corrective measures they need to take to make online learning more meaningful for them. Further, learning goals and regular evaluations based on their progress should make it result-oriented likewise the offline learning process. 

With all these measures, online learning can be effective and become a strong supplement to regular classroom studies.  The earlier we adopt it, the better will be our future-readiness.  

Author Mr Ankur Dhawan is COO at Buddy4Study.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of News Sense and News Sense does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.