Understanding Education Trends in India amid COVID-19 Pandemic: How the new normal is impacting students?
The Coronavirus pandemic resulted in an unprecedented lockdown that gravely impacted various sectors and compelled them to find ways to adapt to the ‘new normal. One such sector that found inventive ways of delivering was the education sector in India. To ensure that students did not miss out on their daily lessons, there was a swift conversion to online classes and e-learning became a common concept. While some believe that the reliance on technology deepened the already existing digital divide in India, experts are of the opinion, that if utilized well, this could eventually lead to the reduction of such inequalities. In this article, we will understand Education Trends in India during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were positive outcomes too and one was the increased focus on incorporating social-emotional learning into the education systems. This was done to build resilience among the students which emerged as a necessity amidst a global virus outbreak. Students were also encouraged to learn in new ways with the use of a more discussion and analysis-oriented teaching model in place of the traditional rote learning method. As the Indian education space continues to reinvent itself and adapt to the ever-evolving concerns they face due to the pandemic, there are several ongoing and upcoming education trends that have emerged within this space and are important to take into consideration in order to understand the education system’s response to COVID-19.
The following are the Education trends in India that emerged during the pandemic:
1. Paradigm shift in Online Education: Due to the sudden lockdown many schools and colleges shifted to online modes of education. As a result, this will become a 2 billion dollar industry in India. It requires continuously increasing investment because even now many students are not able to receive this education because of issues pertaining to internet connectivity, lack of technology, and others.
2. Investment in Online Tutoring firms: Online educational firms such as BYJU’s have really benefited from the lockdown and a complete shift to online education. Many students have completely shifted to these firms for everyday studies and more such educational firms are slowly coming up as a result of this.
3. Digital and Comprehensive online assessments, a revolution in Exam Management and Concept-Based Learning: The method of taking examinations has shifted. Along with this, the style of papers has been revolutionized to generate more analytical answers rather than answers that can only be memorized. This is also because teachers are unable to figure out whether students are simply copying information from the net and therefore, answers which require a proper thought-out explanation is much safer. As a result, the overall education trends is becoming more analytical and discussion-oriented.
4. Personalised Learning and AI-based Personalized Analysis of Individuals: This will help each child get specific attention. Personalized Analysis of each child helps teachers understand their strengths and weaknesses and help them excel in what they are passionate about. This further encourages children to take up careers within the spectrum of their passion.
5. Do-It-Yourself learning: Online modes of learning have enhanced ways and means through which children can learn. Along with the course curriculum, students have branched out to learn about different aspects of their interests.
6. Immense use of Virtual Reality and gamification in learning: Learning is always better with visual aid. As a result of the lockdown, travel has significantly diminished and hence Virtual Reality has become the new visual aid. Gamification attempts to make usual concepts more interesting and interactive.
7. Operational functions will go fully digital and investment in Smart Campuses: This will make schools and colleges more flexible and easier to manage operational tasks.
8. New Role of teachers to successfully integrate technology: It has become increasingly important for teachers to make online modes of education interactive for students. The ways and means of distraction for children have significantly increased and therefore the pressure for making online classrooms more interesting falls on the teachers.
9. Reading through a digital library: Immense investments need to be made in making digital libraries. As a result of technological advancements, children are losing their interest in reading. It is important to make these elements available to them so that despite a lack of physical books, online content can be reader-friendly.
10. Increased focus on Social Emotional Learning (SEL): The increased focus on SEL stems from the aim to build emotionally resilient societies. The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning defines SEL as ‘how children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.’ In the midst of the pandemic, it is surely of utmost importance to build education systems such as these. SEL in a school can look like training teachers to attend to the behavioral and emotional needs of children, sensitizing parents to build a safe environment for students and lastly, to teach students to efficiently convey their problems so their needs can be addressed. This is extremely beneficial for their mental wellbeing and holistic development.
11. Encouraging Greater Parent Participation and Community Engagement: This was a key feature of teaching that emerged during the pandemic. According to Prachi Windlass from Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh that was already working towards school transformation, directed their teachers to form WhatsApp groups to help parents and students adapt to a ‘learning from home’ model also emerged as one of the important Education Trends in India. This included the mapping of daily calendars in accordance with the student learning competencies and guidelines for 1:1 weekly phone interactions between the students and teachers. In addition to this, parents who were from low-income backgrounds showed increased involvement in their children’s education. (Himachal Pradesh is a fitting example, as 90% of the parent base in the state attended the first e-PTM organized)
12. Blended learning: As the attendance of in-person classes was discouraged to prevent community transmission of the virus, the dependency on technology increased in the Indian education space. Blended learning, also sometimes known as hybrid learning, can essentially be understood as a model of teaching where digital media and technology are integrated into the traditional classroom space. An example of this could be the ‘flipped classroom’ concept. This means supplying the students with e-content (class notes, videos, and links), which they have to read before the class and then work on problem-solving and interactions during the class time
13. Motivating students to participate in extracurricular activities: Participation in extracurricular activities provides students with an opportunity to express their creative skills and showcase their areas of interest. It also provides them with the opportunities to build crucial skills such as communication, conflict resolution, and teamwork.
14. Emergence of Inclusive Learning Spaces: The pandemic reiterated the necessity for having spaces that were inclusive for all kinds of learners. An upcoming education trend is that special education modules are longer solely limited to special schools but are now expanding to regular schools as well, especially to create an inclusive learning space for students with disabilities. Additionally, this will also have a significant impact on the employability of persons with disabilities.
Education systems have been rapidly adapting to the unprecedented changes compelled by the pandemic. Furthermore, the concerns that have arisen as a result of COVID-19 pose challenges at multiple levels, the most important being that post-pandemic, many children, particularly girls, differently-abled, and the poor may not be able to return to school. Therefore, it becomes important to continue education through this time as well and to maintain the link children have with their studies. Along with this, schools are important for studies as well as for a child’s overall well-being and development.
This sudden change to an online mode of education has attempted to cater to those needs through developments such as personalized and inclusive learning and studies that are blended with extra-curricular activities. Many organizations came up with strategies to cater to these ever-changing needs, some of them highlighted above. Along with this, while children stay at home, parent participation has increased and has proved to be beneficial for a child’s overall growth. Thus, this is the time for collective action, to ensure that each child is enrolled in school and learning.
Written By Arunima Majumdar and Aranya Sawhney Malik
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