How well the schools have transitioned to online education is an area of active research interest and there have been several useful studies that have attempted to measure the degree of success that the Indian schools have achieved in adopting the online mode of education. One in the league is the study conducted by Azim Premji University. The study commands credence for its width and rigor, the sample of the study includes 80000 students studying in 1522 schools across 26 districts of the 5 Indian states, the study also included teachers and parents. Another notable study in this category is the one carried by QCI and NABET in collaboration. This study was conducted in the Delhi NCR region.
Notably, all the aforementioned studies pertain to the online scenarios in the government schools of 5 states.
The findings of these studies have been discussed as under—
The study findings are consistent with those of other sources in its indication that access to online education in tier 1 and tier 2 cities is far from equitable.
The finding that was among the most revealing was that the net percentage of the children attending the online classes was not more than 40 percent, implying that the percentage of missing out was as sizeable as 60. The reasons behind so many students missing out on educational opportunities are manifold. The factors that contribute to such a situation have been unearthed by the study, for example, it was found that just 31 percent of the students have access to smartphones for online classes. Moreover, it was also found that just 22 percent of the households have more than one smartphone which could be easily spared for exclusive educational use. The findings leave no doubt in our minds that what we speculated all along is true-digital education faces the daunting obstacle in the form of the absence of digital infrastructure.
Another area of concern that the studies have pointed towards is the relative ineffectuality of online education. 80 percent of the teachers that were interviewed in the course of the study said that the virtual platforms fall short of the threshold of connection that is necessary to facilitate the achievement of meaningful educational outcomes. The real exchanges are missing not just between the teachers and students but also between the peers making a substantial downgrade in terms of assimilability of the lessons. The interaction is almost mechanical and passive, they felt.
Another impediment in achieving learning outcomes using the virtual platforms is the limited and premature assessment mechanisms that are usable in an online context. In the absence of regular assessment of the comprehension, the instruction on the virtual platforms becomes overly didactic. PPTs and videos are uploaded, and at best consumed passively, the absence of classroom participation makes it difficult for the teacher to assess understanding and distinguish between the fast and the slow learners.
Whatever outcomes online education could offer are further discounted by the fact that the assignments are not completed regularly and the students have the reason for bad connectivity always. This defeats the entire purpose of online education in government schools.
The studies also pointed out that the levels of engagement that the teachers have with the students in virtual media of education is not adequate with just 50 percent of the teachers interacting with students daily, and even the ones who are interacting are doing so only for an hour or less. The gap is evident.
Whatsapp remains the most preferred platform and the exchanges on other platforms which arguably give more latitude to the teachers and learners--Zoom, MSOffice Team, WebEx, etc. are being used by just 14 percent of the teachers.
It is clear that the government schools are found on the far end in terms of the benefits of online education are concerned and the ineffectiveness of the online teaching-learning has been made abundantly clear by the findings.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.
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