There are many issues associated with school-level online education. But there are similar issues associated with online higher education as well. But, these can be removed with proper suggestions.
The government spent merely 3.2% of its GDP on education in 2020-21. Online education started in India without any changes in infrastructure, training, etc. The government directed the higher education institutions to shift from classroom education to online education. The University administrations also followed the suit towards online education.
Online higher education in India:
Earlier teachers and students in higher educational institutions faced a lot of issues. Especially during their shift from the annual scheme of teaching to the semester scheme of teaching and the choice-based credit system. A similar thing happened during the shift from regular education to online education.
- Centrally funded elite institutes such as the IITs, IIMs, NITs and Central universities launched video channels and uploaded e-content on institutional websites and digital platforms
- On the other hand, State universities struggle without proper Internet connectivity and bandwidth on their campuses. There are several vacant faculty positions in universities. So, online education increased the work of already overburdened teachers.
- Problems for students: Many of the students lacked the facilities to attend the online classes.
- Problems with practical education: Apart from these issues, online education cannot replace practical field and laboratory-based learning in higher education.
Suggestions to improve online higher education:
A sudden shift to online education will not only serve any needs in education but also become counterproductive. The government can improve this by few suggestions. Such as,
- Increased consultation: According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (2018-19), India has 993 universities, 39,931 colleges, 3.73 crore students and 14.16 lakh, teachers. The government can include wider stakeholder consultation regarding online education.
- Tackling the issue of internet penetration: Internet penetration still low in India. So the government has to provide financial aids to obtain appropriate IT tools, platforms, devices, provide training, etc.
- Further, 25 lakh students belonging to the socially and economically weaker sections of society. The government can consider providing devices such as laptop/tablets to them to improve access to online education.
- Preparation of appropriate study material: The government has to understand that only uploading scanned lecture notes or PowerPoint presentations does not fulfil the purpose of education. The government have to explore application-based learning for students.
- Introduction of online education in a phased manner: A transition from conventional to online has to happen in a phased manner. State universities should first equip their infrastructure (both hard and soft) with complete government support.
- Development of other services: The government has to invest more in developing massive open online courses (MOOCs), direct-to-home (DTH) content development, digital classrooms etc.
As more COVID-19 waves are expected, the government has to engage with academic stakeholders and invest adequately in online education as suggested by Fifteenth Finance Commission.
Source: The Hindu