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Chatrooms to classrooms

Driven by technology, online education is fast gaining popularity even as experts recommend a combination of study methods, reports Rhythm Bhatia.

Rhythm Bhatia | New Delhi |

Technology has taken the charge in almost every field under the sun, and education is no different. Decades ago, children would go to schools or pathshalas, and that was the only source of education that they had. Then arose the trend of tuitions, due to the quality of education provided at schools, according to some. Each and every student would go to a separate institution or to a tutor. These tuition classes and tutors are now being rapidly replaced by online education apps.

Education technology, or EdTech, as it is called, is a fast growing field. Various websites and applications are competing to develop technology to make these online classes more and more effective and efficient.

The shift from traditional schooling to tuitions occurred due to various reasons, quality of education being the prime one. In a school classroom, there are 35 to 50 students, each with a different level of aptitude, learning speed and capacity. However, classes in a school follow a one size fits all approach. They do not accommodate for students, who are slow or need a different teaching method. Due to this, more and more students started joining tuition classes, wherein the teacher to student ratio was far better, and students could get individual attention and a more personalised teaching method.

Then, slowly and steadily, technology started taking up space, like it has done in every field. Tuition centres and tutors started getting replaced by online education platforms, such as Meritnation, Khan Academy and Toppr. These platforms use a one-on-one approach and provide quality learning at home.

These benefits, in a way, equate online learning platforms and personal tutors, who take at-home classes. But there are still a lot of advantages that online platforms have over personal tutors. “These personal tutors are effective, but they’re incredibly expensive. You also never know the background of these people, so there’s no guarantee of safety. You cannot leave your kids alone with them,” Tripta Kapoor, mother of two school-going children was reported as saying.

Online learning then comes to these parents’ rescue. Safety, money, time or attention ~ none of these are issues with online platforms. It also provides a better learning method for students, i.e. visual learning. Lessons are taught using graphs, pictures and videos. This is a break from the usual text reading and blackboard explanations, which is the format of almost all classes. This helps the students understand concepts better, and makes classes more fun and engaging. Arnav Jain, who just cleared his board exams, said “Being a social sciences student, classes got really monotonous. I used various online learning platforms and they helped to break the monotony of my subjects. I didn’t feel like falling asleep anymore!”.

But this doesn’t mean that online learning platforms are perfect, they still have some loopholes, some of them being the older generations’ biggest concerns with technology, misuse, and dependence. Giving children access to technology not only gives them an opportunity to misuse it, but it also accelerates our ever-increasing dependence on technology. Sending kids to tuition classes also gets them out of the house, which they already don’t do much of, thanks to technology. But then again, misuse can occur with tuition classes as well, with kids bunking classes and going elsewhere.

According to teachers, online education platforms will never be able to replace them, owing to their experience. “School teachers, especially for Classes X and XII, are integral to scoring well in exams. They have a lot of experience, and know what kind of questions are asked, which questions are bound to be asked, how to answer to get maximum marks,” said a Class XII Economics teacher from Delhi. Most teachers working with board classes have experience of checking the answer sheets and hence know what works in exams, and what students can do to ensure maximum marks.

It is evident from the loopholes that exist in every learning platform that no single learning platform can ensure success for a student. These platforms must be used in a way that they complement each other, to provide maximum opportunities and success for the student.