E-learning is a network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge which brings learning to people rather than people to learning. This system lacks  the human element required in learning and allows the use of electronic technology to access educational curriculum outside of the traditional classroom. As professionals prepare for the new normal at their workplaces and recruiters set their eyes on hiring the best talent. E-Learning can aid a professional’s pursuit towards building a successful career. Online learning can even be used as a means of communication and training to upgrade the efficiency and effectiveness of the workforce in corporations across organisations and across countries.

Over the years, e-Learning has seen a continued surge in interest and adoption. The COVID-19 pandemic has heaved educational systems into unknown territory. It has challenged and disrupted the work of educators, the daily learning experiences of students and even the concept of schooling. Schooling has suffered massive implications for tutelage,therefore emergency remote teaching and learning have been described as the biggest global experiment in educational reform and distance learning in history.

In spite of the hardships and devastating loss of life caused by COVID-19, there is also an emerging sense of optimism in the field of education that the pandemic is a critical opportunity to leaven the transformation in public education.  Worldwide school closures have compelled teachers and students to work remotely, increased parent and community engagement in student learning, necessitated substantial adjustments to the required number of instructional hours, cancelled standardized testing and examinations and significantly changed the methods of evaluation, reporting and the post-secondary admission process.

The way overnight changes have been rolled out with no training whatsoever and insufficient bandwidth will be remembered forever.This has placed greater emphasis on the role of schools as not just a place for learning but a haven for socialisation,care and community values that cannot be hacked through technology.

The transcendence of education from face- face interaction to a virtual platform has engendered certain fundamentals distinctions among people.Digital divide has been witnessed among the socio-economically diverse classes a limited number of schools might adopt online teaching strategies.This divide can further worsen the circumstances as job losses and recession can devastate the marginalized in every society. The gap between students is not just limited to internet access; it also subsumes the ability and privileges of parents that allow them to facilitate the new learning process for their children.

Despite the above concerns, one cannot deny the benefits of e-learning: Calling E-Learning cost effective would be appropriate as it can save almost 50% to 70% on overall coaching and e- materials can be referred over books and documents.. On the other hand, a considerable amount of the travel and accommodation costs of both learners and instructors will be reduced. Secondly, E- learning is Self-Paced as the planning of time schedule can be done as per one‘s convenience, which increases potency, effectiveness, convenience, scalability, and reusability. Thirdly,Individual learning styles might be taken into account and E-Learning materials can be modified and adapted to be consistent with the knowledge, skills, and needs of an individual student.

E learning has led to an unprecedented transformation from teacher-centric education towards student-centric education because the students have total control of their learning environment.Fourthly,Online learning might solve teacher insufficiency by facultative highest quality lecturers to deliver their materials to a broader range of scholars through E-Learning.Fifthly,It is environmentally friendly as it is a paperless learning methodology, it does not contribute to several environmental issues related to paper.

On average, a distance learning course emits 85% fewer carbon dioxide gas and consumes 90% less energy  than traditional institutional courses. According to reports, students can boost their retention rates by 25-60% through e-learning. This can be as a result of audio-visual learning in addition to the number of variable media formats that tend to forge a positive influence on the learner’s ability to understand and retain information. This further improves scores & refines results.

Sixthly,E- Learning imparts education in a more personalized, distinct, specific and transparent way.Seventhly, Students find it easier to raise queries, leave feedback, get responses, seek repetitions and clarify doubts as per their own level of comprehension. It can also provide training opportunities to many people, who might not be able to take part in classroom learning. 

Coming to the disadvantages,it is observed that face-to-face communication with professors, peer-to-peer activities, and strict schedules all work concurrently to keep the students on the track during their studies. As a result, keeping up with regular deadlines throughout online studies can become difficult for those students who lack sturdy self-motivation and time management skills.Not only this but also online learning limits the students and lecturers to theoretical knowledge that seems to be ineffective in a team setting.Often the students endure contemplation, remoteness and a lack of interaction in online classes.

Social isolation in addition to lack of communication  results in several psychological issues like heightened stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts. Poor quality assurance and a lack of accredited online learning suppliers weaken the legitimacy of online education making assessment through online means a troublesome activity as cheating prevention is more complicated than traditional testing procedures because the students cannot be directly monitored during assessments without a video feed.

Online classes are limited to certain disciples such as social science and humanities because scientific fields need a certain degree of hands-on practical experience which is neglected in e- learning platforms. Are all comfortable with current learning techniques? Alas! In India, there is a massive gap in computer literacy (6% of total Indian population). Even everyone doesn’t have a good network connection and computers that are powerful enough to support online streaming. It also requires the utilisation of a computer and other digital gadgets which cause strain in the eyes and various physical as well as mental health problems.Therefore, it’s extremely vital that we glance at online learning as an addition, rather than as a substitute to traditional education.

What do you think about the scope of the online learning market India? Is that the change in the traditional mind-sets along with the corporate and business sector led the way in embracing technology based learning? The online education market size in India has the potential to grow by $14.33 billion during 2020-2024 and the user base of smartphones is expected to achieve over 760 million in 2021. Currently, The Internet penetration rate in India is 50% today which is expected to reach 85% households by 2024, technology is enabling omnipresent access and personalization of education even within the remotest parts of the country because the traditional education system in India is insufficient in providing services to any or all the segments of the education and skill development system, learners trying to find  alternative education sources, resulting in the expansion of the online education market in India.

In this period of catastrophe, a versatile and effective educational practice is what’s needed for the intellectual development of the young generation. It will imbibe skills which will drive their employability, productivity, health, and well-being in the decades to come, and ensure the overall development of India. Now is the time to reflect on what has been learned from the biggest global experiment in educational reform and distance learning in history and consider what might be possible till the new normal.

-This article has been written by Pranjal Ritolia, pursuing Bcom hons. at Shri Ram College of Commerce.

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