Covid-19 pandemic has changed the education system

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By: Dr. Jagadindra Raychoudhury

Since the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, the learning process has completely changed the entire education system from University to the school level. The education system transformed from offline to online teaching. Teachers are still struggling to make a way out to engage their students in online teaching. The classroom system of teaching turned to a stalemate position due to the shutdown of educational institutions across the world and at present, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom. The dramatic changes will raise the e-learning process whereby teaching is undertaken on the digital platform. Research suggests that online learning has been shown to increase retention of information and take less time in the teaching process due to coronavirus. It is very much true that the rate of Covid -19 is variable worldwide but as per the record, 1.2 billion children in 186 countries have been affected due to pandemic. With the sudden shift of classroom teaching to online teaching across the globe raises the question of whether this process would continue in post-pandemic days and what would be the impact of the entire education system in near future.

Before the pandemic, the high growth and adaption of technology investments reaching $18.66 billion in 2019 and online teaching might reach $350 billion in 2025 by using virtual tutoring, language apps, video conferencing, or introduction of learning software, etc. The use of such a medium has shown a significant effect after the outbreak of coronavirus.

Online teaching had a significant impact as soon as classroom teaching abruptly collapsed due to the pandemic and was bound to establish another platform of the e-learning process. It is to be mentioned that a platform like BYJU’s, a Bengaluru-based educational technology and online tutoring founded in 2011, is now the world’s most highly valued Edtech Company. According to Mrinal Mohit, the company’s chief operating officer, since the announcement of free live classes on its Think and Learn app, BYJU has observed a 200% increase in the number of new students using this app and its product.

A Singapore-based collaborative company known as ‘Lark’ which is developed by Byte Dance as an internal tool to meet its own exceptional growth, began offering teachers and students unlimited video conferencing time, auto-translation capabilities and project work amongst other features. To work very quickly and in time of crisis, Lark ramped up its global server infrastructures and engineering capabilities to ensure reliable connectivity.

According to CEO, Chen Hang of Ding Talk and Alibaba’s learning solution said, ‘To support large scale remote work, the platform tapped Alibaba cloud to deploy more than 100,000 new cloud servers in just two hours last month setting a new record for rapid capacity expansion.’

Besides these, some collaborative system has evolved to minimize the education system like between the Los Angeles Unified School District and PBS SoCal/ KCET to offer local educational broadcast with separate channels focused in the different age group of digital options. In the UK also they are telecasting some programmes on educational sectors along with some playing tools for kids through some celebrities like footballer Sergio Aguero. The same trend could have been followed in India through some local channels for the greater interest of students.

It is a matter of concern for the future trend of learning system under the preview of the switch over from traditional system to an online system which is unplanned and rapid due to novel coronavirus, yet with lack of proper training, insufficient bandwidth and as a result unconducive to sustain growth. On the other hand, someone believes that the new trend of the education system will emerge with significant benefit. According to Wang Tao, Vice President of Tencent Cloud and Vice President Tencent education express as – “We believe that integration of information technology in education will be further accelerated and that online education will eventually become an integral component of school education.”

There are some success stories regarding the new online system of education. An example is – Zhejiang University which manages to get more than 5000 courses online two weeks into the transition using ‘Ding Talk ZJU’. Another example is the Imperial College of London, which has started offering a course on the Science of coronavirus and that class is very much popular than ever before. The teaching system is much more beneficial through Lark as admitted by professor Amjad, University of Jordan and he says – “It has changed the way of teaching. It enables me to reach out to my students more efficiently and effectively through chat groups, video meetings voting, and also document sharing, especially during this pandemic. My students also find it is easier to communicate on a lark. I will notice to Lark even after coronavirus. I believe traditional offline and e-learning can go hand in hand”.

There must be some challenges which emerge during this unplanned situation, many students are not habituated to using the computer as well as accessible of an android mobile which creates a hindrance in the e-learning process especially here in India but the same procedure has been properly used by advanced countries.

The online system of teaching has started all of a sudden due to the pandemic and there are certain evidence that this type of teaching is much more effective on several occasions. In this regard, research is carried out which explains that students retain 25-60% more material in online teaching than classroom teaching. This is because of the students being able to learn faster online, e-learning requires 40-60% less time than the traditional classroom settings. The students can learn at their own place or accelerating through concepts as they choose. It is also worth mentioning that the effectiveness of online learning may vary according to their age group depending upon the tools. As the learning process has to depend upon a new kind of technology which is progressing as well as crucial also. According to BYJU’s Mrinal Mohit, “Over a period, we have observed that clear integration of game has demonstrated higher engagement and increased motivation towards learning especially amongst younger students, making them truly fall in love with learning”.

As the pandemic has abruptly changed the teaching-learning process and in this regard scholar Yuval Noah Harari wrote a book entitled -21 Lessons for the 21st century and in his book he tried to focus on traditional academic skills and rote learning, rather than on skills such as critical thinking and adaptability, which will be more important for success in the future. It is true that the new system must have some hindrance in the learning process but in due course of time it would be a ‘new normal one’

To conclude my discussion in this new trend of the education system, we must induce to switching over the online system of learning, though the system is a complex one but an emerging field too. However, to make it successful first of all our mindset should change. Teachers need to shift the teaching content paradigm towards a learning content paradigm to face. Besides these, new apps should be introduced as a tool of teaching and some local channel must telecast some subject-oriented topics regularly by reputed teachers for the greater interest of the students. (The writer can be contacted via [email protected])

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