The coronavirus mess has brought the world to a standstill. The pandemic forced people to stay indoors, thanks to the social-distancing protocol. With schools and universities shut all across the world due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a new environment for online learning came to the fore. Per a recent ResearchandMarkets.com industry data, the global online education market is expected to be valued at $319 billion by 2025, rising from $188 billion in 2019.
Internet education already started to show significant growth even before the deadly contagion hit hard. Ease of grasping the lessons, higher retention rate and flexibility seem to change people’s perception toward e-learning. And now, with the sudden switchover from classrooms to virtual tutoring, there is a notable rise in the adoption of online-learning software and video-conferencing tools.
Companies are ramping up their efforts to provide online learning platforms to meet the spurt in demand for virtual education. With net-based education gaining popularity among teachers and students alike, DingTalk, Alibaba’s BABA online learning and collaboration solution, was included in UNESCO’s list of distance-learning platforms. Meanwhile, a number of school districts are entering into partnerships, such as KCET and PBS SoCal with the Los Angeles Unified School District, to offer students tailored educational programs. Bitesize Daily, BBC’s learning program, imparts curriculum-based online lessons to kids. Furthermore, it will guide parents on home-schooling. “This is the biggest education effort the BBC has ever undertaken,” said General Lord Hall, director, BBC. He further stated that only this reputed broadcaster has the capacity to dispense such a comprehensive academic package.
Clearly, the pandemic acted as a key catalyst for redefining the educational system, shifting from the traditional ways of teaching. However, this unplanned transition to cyber learning with no sufficient training and little preparation might result in poor user experience. Students without reliable Internet connection or digital equipment find it difficult to participate in virtual learning.
According to a study by OECD, 95% of students in Switzerland, Norway and Austria have access to computers for their school work compared with a mere 34% in Indonesia. Referring to an article published by the World Economic Forum, while virtually all 15-year-olds from a privileged background in the United States could afford a computer, roughly 25% of those from disadvantaged background were unable to purchase one. Although some governments and schools are providing the required technology for less privileged students, like in New South Wales, Australia, concerns over the widening of the digital divide still loom large.
Nevertheless, it is quite clear that e-learning technology is bringing about an imperative change in the education system worldwide. Despite its shortcomings, distance learning could turn out to be more effective in coaching students and becoming the ‘new normal’ if we explore it to optimum levels.
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