The world has been busy tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, and amidst it the shutting down of all the schools and colleges has been a common feature of every country’s strategic move. This move started with China affecting more than 270 mn children in its educational institutions, has now been adopted by the European countries, the USA and now finally India has also resorted to it and put a halt to the learning system of 250 mn students in schools and millions in the colleges and universities.
In a desperate attempt to continue the education delivery process, the teachers of schools in many countries finally resorted to the EdTech industry as their Crisis Response Tool. While all this is exciting and promising for the education system, the pertinent question is “Will this growth sustain or will it taper off once the Covid-19 dust settles in these countries?”
Honestly, to that, no one would have a concrete answer but I would like to present my analysis here owing to my unique experience of launching a Digital Education Startup and leading a chain of Schools currently.
As terrifying as the current situation might be, and being more pragmatic than optimistic, I am sure that in months from now, the human race would win this battle over the Covid-19 pandemic and once it does, things will start turning back to where they were and it will be back-to-business time for schools around the globe. Online learning systems will add new users in this current scenario, but it is highly expected that most users using it now will drop out of this virtual education world, the moment the schools reopen.
We have witnessed it among students, that even after some amazing innovations in the education technology field, the user stickiness has been very low for these online facilitators. Currently, the adoption has been on a rise among learners mostly because the products are being provided for free and students are locked down at home with no schools or after-school tuitions to go to. Students to date, be it in the USA or India, have still preferred classrooms, teachers and that physical form of contact in education.
The school teachers who are the protagonists of the teaching pedagogy, themselves, have not fully adopted the technology during this virus-scare. So once the schools begin, the teachers would resort to the old-classroom teaching methodology indirectly putting students back in that trail of preferring notebooks over a tablet.
Let’s not ignore the fact that the current rise in adoption of online learning has majorly been due to free access to the products. Had this rise been in paid subscriptions, then the story could have been slightly different going forward.
Adding on to that, the curriculum followed by the content providers in the EdTech industry is very generalized and not school-specific. So the actual class-wise school curriculum (which differs from school to school) mostly varies quite a bit from the content provided on online platforms. The schools and its teachers can’t adapt to the online content providers as the curriculum differs and the schools are not in a position to build those missing topics overnight. This will also be a big factor playing against the adoption of online learning by schools after the immunization of COVID-19 even if teachers were trained and skilled to adopt the same.
Some of us can be optimistic about the digital medium of education being completely adopted in the schools and schools changing their learning styles, but that is highly unlikely to happen. Let’s not forget the challenges the virtual world has in the field of education- the missing touch of physical human interaction, the improbability of ensuring the attention of students and ensuring the attendance of the students for a particular lecture and along with that struggle of our teachers to comfortably deliver a lecture in front of a camera without a marker or chalk. The current scenario has forced us to adopt 100% online mode of teaching, but that won’t sustain because classroom teaching will be by default viewed as a preferred option. Taking the academicians out of that comfort zone will be difficult and without that adoption from schools and teachers, technology in education will always continue to be an enabler in schools, exactly the way it had been in past so many years but the learning style would still continue to be what it was for a couple of years now.
Will the era of e-learning continue?
A report by CGTN shows the boost of online platform for all kind of interaction between teachers and students: