“Mom, please buy me a new laptop. I have tried enough, but I can no longer work on this. It has storage issues and automatically shuts down. How do I attend my online classes with this”?
Navya looks tensed and analyzes how she is going to save up on some money to get the latest laptop for her child.
Many of you would be able to relate to this. With reform in education, the teaching methods have transformed too. Though, the prime goal of this transformation has always been knowledge delivery to the last mile. However, there are many factors worth assessing before we can make the two ends meet-technology and education.
Here is a quick read about the different factors restricting the movement of schools to online platforms
As per the Mckinsey reports less than 40 percent of students from lower-income class can access remote learning equipment against 72 percent of higher-income class students.
Furthermore, only 56 percent of these 40 percent have reliable internet access against 77 percent of the higher income group.
With such a digital divide, schools and colleges face immense pressure while coming up with a solution that fits one and all. Additionally, even if the students have an adequate infrastructure to attend online classes, not everyone has a great remote learning environment at home.
Here is a food for thought -In a 4 membered 1-BHK family, to what extent is it possible for a student to attend online classes at a specific time?
Such instances might sound very naive, but the hard-core reality has something else to say.
Only 46 percent of lower-income group students have a good learning environment at home against 64 percent of the higher income class.
The data points seem very alarming and more complicated is the challenge to overdo the expectations of a bright future.
In such unprecedented times of crisis, many people worldwide are losing out on their jobs. Furthermore, they are facing the added pressure of fulfilling their child’s education needs.
Amidst all this, the schools are also reluctant about the extent to which they can introduce a technology-enabled learning environment in their curriculum. Adding new infrastructure, providing training to teachers, students and parents, tying up with content delivery platforms, all such things borne much cost and when parents are struggling to pay the basic fees. How can such things be included in the curriculum?
Moreover, since the inception of the pandemic about 42 to 66 million children worldwide have entered the poverty zone, adding to the 386 million children already under the extreme poverty range.
Not only this, but the schools have a limitation too on their expenditure. They can’t afford to invest money in tech-based learning, knowing that half of their students can’t afford it.
Not all Access is the same
Even if the students and teachers have the means to attend online classes, the user experience varies from a device to a device.
Some of the students might be using a basic mobile phone having low video and audio quality to access the classes while others might be using the latest laptop having much better quality than the former.
In such a scenario, the assignment completion time, lesson understanding time differs for each student and the one having a lower quality device might face problems.
Hence, the schools are facing difficulties to devise a solution for eliminating discrimination in the learning experience based on the device used.
Training for teachers
The traditional ways of teaching have never undergone a drastic change since ages and anyone never felt a need to do so. The blackboard and the chalks had been enough to impart education and turn the students into bright leaders of the future.
But as we have entered into the roller-coaster ride of an uncertain tomorrow, it’s an indispensable need to make our teachers tech-savvy and embrace new, innovative online teaching methods.
But it’s easier said than done. To completely go online, it’s really important to train the teachers and staff on how to use tech-enabled lesson plans in their day to day teaching curriculum.
This is a prerequisite that needs to be fulfilled before welcoming online teaching methods. But adhering to such needs is not that simple. Schools are facing difficulties in coming up with well-analyzed planning regarding the same.
Effective end to end communication
The parents are often not clear about the kind of equipment needed for online education. In such a case even if the schools come up with a solution, it might not reach the end-users effectively, that is the parents in this case.
Clear communication is an absolute necessity in such a scenario. So, the end decision is widely dependent on how the parents perceive it.
For example, when the parents are asked about their internet speed, phone memory, web browsers usage, or laptop efficiency. Most parents are unable to convey such information accurately. So, it becomes extremely challenging to devise a strategy to extricate the relevant information about the infrastructure capabilities at home.
Also, most of the parents do not have access to emails and are not very comfortable with the English language, so it also becomes unwieldy to reach the last person of the lower-income class group and communicate the message effectively.
The tech gap isn’t going to fade anytime soon. Even if it comes to an end, the wave of online education will continue shaping our future. The challenges might seem very complex as of now, but the earlier schools foster an innovative solution to this, the more accomplished our future is going to be.
The situations might seem adverse, but dropping a ball on education is not going to help us for sure. Right now, it’s more important to look toward the promising side of online education. It has the power to drive students to reflect empathy and self-awareness in their day-to-day life and to bring out their creative side. But for this to be true, parents, teachers, and students need to work collaboratively in the right direction towards a common goal.