Education

Streamlining digital content

With COVID-19 wreaking havoc and students having to rely on virtual classrooms for e-Learning, a policy framework for digital training is the need of the hour

The global outbreak of the Coronavirus has caught us completely off guard, so much so that even our day-to-day activities have been disrupted. Governments around the world have been forced to shut down schools, colleges, offices, and all means of people-to-people contact. This pandemic has shown us many loopholes in our education system and has compelled us to re-evaluate the current educational framework.

Many EdTech solution providers have come forward to lend a hand to students by offering unrestricted access to their platforms. While the gesture is noteworthy, these measures may not be enough to deliver regulated and structured continuity in education. There is an urgent need to address these issues through policy-level changes and creating a policy framework that blends online education with traditional teaching methods.

Policy framework

In the last few years, with easy access to high-speed Internet services and increased availability of affordable handsets, digitisation has become an integral part of the operations of many important sectors. Having been a part of numerous initiatives in the educational ecosystem over the years, I can only stress on an all-encompassing knowledge distribution being as essential as the traditional teaching methods and blended learning is the only logical way forward. Fortunately, it has found takers in the education sector too and as a result of this, several EduTech platforms have emerged and are collectively working towards devising smart learning techniques to make education relevant and productive. Thankfully, the government also understands and emphasises on the importance of digital learning and has announced a bunch of commendable initiatives in the Union Budget to encourage digital learning for higher education. For instance, top 100 nationally ranked institutions have been asked to prepare a curriculum for degree level online courses. These measures now need to be extended to K12 education as well to support e-Learning and ensure seamless learning experiences at all stages of a student’s life.

Especially in scenarios like the current one where remote-learning is the only way to keep the students on track with their studies, the amalgamation of e-Learning platforms and mainstream curriculum is the need of the hour. An advisory committee and task force comprising educationists, school management, service providers, academicians, EdTech providers, and government representatives need to be invited to share their expertise to create more effective and extensive education policies. The inclusion of e-Learning right from the primary level to professional courses is the only way to avoid disruption in the system, if faced with a similar crisis in the future.

Public-private partnerships have been proved to be effective in many sectors and the same concept can be applied in education too. The EdTech companies can be invited to share their technical expertise to create the curriculums which are more effective and advanced in terms of applications.

Needless to say, digital intervention needs to be included across all boards to avoid any kind of discrepancies, especially since state-boards are still following the age-old curriculum and teaching technique even today and have been proven inadequate when they go for higher studies. Making digital learning a mandatory part of the mainstream teaching will automatically provide a uniform standard.

And finally, since we are talking about an overall modernisation of the teaching processes, there is a dire need for modernisation of teacher training courses as well. Only the well-informed and well-equipped teachers can ensure the prosperity of our future generation.

The writer is Chairman, Ampersand Group

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 4:40:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/streamlining-digital-content/article31179958.ece

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