Online Learning

1st May – Online Learning

Limitations of online learning

A recent report by the UGC Chairman said that to maintain social distancing, e-education was the only way out. This was clearly meant to prepare the higher education community for the exigencies of a protracted period of closure of campuses. He also said that online education was likely to be adopted as a strategy to enhance the gross enrolment ratio in higher education. 

Questions arise –

  • One, how far will online education help support greater access to and success in higher education among those who are on the margins?
  • Two, how equipped are digital forms of education to support the depth and diversity of learning in higher education?
  • Three, is there an unstated political motivation for this shift in strategy?

Defining higher education –

  • Higher education has an influx of students who are first-generation aspirants. Access is not merely enrolment. It also includes effective participation in curricular processes, which includes negotiating through language and social barriers.
  • These students are also from the other side of the digital divide which makes them vulnerable to a double disadvantage if digital modes become the mainstay of education.
  • Unless they receive consistent hand-holding and backstopping, they tend to remain on the margins and eventually drop out or fail.
  • It is therefore necessary to think deeply and gather research-based evidence on the extent to which online education can be deployed to help enhance the access and success rates.

Why online learning is not a good idea?

  • Acquisition of given knowledge that can be transmitted didactically by a teacher or a text constitutes only one minor segment of curricular content. It is this segment that is largely amenable to online and digital forms of transaction.
  • But learning in higher education means much more than this. It involves development of analytical and other intellectual skills, the ability to critically deconstruct and evaluate given knowledge, and the creativity to make new connections and syntheses.
  • It also means to acquire practical skills, inquire, seek solutions to complex problems, and learn to work in teams. All these assume direct human engagement – not just teacher-student interaction, but also peer interactions. Deconstructing given knowledge in relative isolation is never the same as doing it in a group.
  • Curricular knowledge has a tendency to adjust its own contours according to the mode of transaction and the focus of evaluation. It gets collapsed into largely information-based content when transacted through standard structures of teaching-learning and examination.
  • Online learning needs to be understood as one strand in a complex tapestry of curricular communication that may still assign an important central role to direct human engagement and social learning.

SourceThe Hindu

QUESTION – Should Indian education system transform itself from classroom learning to e-learning? Discuss the limitations.

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