Published: 19th May 2020
Rebooting education: How e-learning will change the course of history in the post-Corona age
Online education is expected to grow from $ 247 million in 2016 to $ 1.96 billion by 2021. Its users are estimated to grow to 1.6 million in 2016 to 9.6 million by the end of 2021
The Coronavirus pandemic has unleashed the power of technology in our lives, like never before. While the education of 300 million students was impacted worldwide, today many are back to learning thanks to online teaching. It’s evident in the online education spike from geographies like China, US, Hong Kong, Korea, Canada, India and more. What was once perceived as a ‘supplement’ to mainstream education, is now unifying students, faculty and opening virtual doors in the lockdown era. This shift from ‘real’ to ‘virtual’ is set to change the course of India’s learning in the future.
Recently, the HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, emphasised that digital footfalls had tripled in just a week, on digital initiatives like SWAYAM. Private online E-platforms have also reported escalated traffic on their websites as enrollments have increased. Besides these, corporates are offering free online courses for employee upskilling and many others are offering 95 per cent free data from top universities like Yale, Michigan and Johns Hopkins. Schools across the country have announced online classes while many others are jumping on the digital bandwagon for evaluations and assessments. This digital revolution may also be a boon for 600,000 students who otherwise, travel overseas annually for higher studies. Clearly, it’s ‘new reality’ education in Corona age!
Online education is expected to grow from $ 247 million in 2016 to $ 1.96 billion by 2021. Its users are estimated to grow to 1.6 million in 2016 to 9.6 million 2021 end. Incidentally, Indians are the second-largest consumers on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) like Coursera. India has approximately 3.5 million students in higher education and around 900 universities catering to this need. In 2030, we will have around 14 million students that are a 4x increase. To meet this, India needs four times the number of universities, colleges and teachers. Similarly, by 2022, India faces a potential shortage of 250 million skilled workers across sectors – EY/FICCI report). Both these are tremendous opportunities for online education.
The institutions engaged in higher education need to be shaken out of a virtual comatose state to act now. Start investing in your people- change the mindsets, train them and bring them on par with their students when it comes to understanding technology. Invest in technology — Zoom or Skype is for video conferencing nor learning. Have the right learning management system that allows seamless transmission of two-way knowledge. Have a clear strategy for content creation, curation and collaboration. Be smart and decide what’s best. Academic leaders must now drop their inhibitions and move ahead or soon, the train will leave the station.
Centennials act, behave, consume and learn differently with their phones and tablets and this must be adapted to teaching & learning methodologies. For this group, online learning is a seamless transition of their actual way of life whether it is social interaction, virtual friends or entertainment.
Corona age has unveiled a new reality — that we need to embrace the new transformation and drive deep, impactful changes. What we are witnessing today is a radical change in mindset, policy and conviction on the technological juggernaut. This momentum must continue. Education is a great enabler that can transform society. Technology has made the world flat and a combination of the two can perhaps create the greatest civil rights movement the world has ever witnessed. The reason for technology adoption in the classroom may be a crisis but this will change the course of history, forever. This is one reality created by a virtual world.
Sharad Mehra is serving as the CEO, Asia-Pacific, Global University Systems (GUS). He has led many educational institutes in India and abroad and also spearheaded academic innovation centres to drive research and has played a pivotal role in the amalgamation of learning with community engagement