Many schools and universities have resisted online learning for a long time. Even though online learning platforms were embraced by professionals, the education and academic world continued to be apprehensive about it.
All this was before 2020. The world changed after the pandemic. Many changes that were due to happen over a period of time were accelerated. Struck by the Covid crisis, the education industry had only two options — put a hold on education for a year or continue with remote learning using online mediums.
Every school and university chose the latter. Disrupting education for a year didn’t seem like a feasible choice.
After more than a year, the world is still in the thick of the pandemic with no end in sight. Experts believe that the effects of the pandemic will continue to linger on and there may be lockdowns in different parts of the world sporadically from time to time.
Therefore, online education is no more an option. It has become a necessity to ensure continued and smooth learning.
However, while some educators and students could implement online learning with minor difficulties, many of them had to face several challenges especially in the developing parts of the world.
Some of these are:
- Infrastructure challenges — laptops and computers are not accessible to every student and teacher
- Stable electricity supply
- Availability of reliable internet connection
- High cost of internet and data
- Lack of technical orientation among teachers and students
- Technical glitches in the online platforms used
Considering that the world is not going to be entirely free from the pandemic and its effects, building the infrastructure to facilitate online learning should be a priority for policymakers and academic leaders.
In this article, we’ll walk you through some ways in which we can build a robust online education infrastructure to ensure that teachers and students can implement online learning without much hassle.
Having a computer or a laptop for every teacher and student is a costly affair. Internet connectivity is also a challenge as broadband connection is not available everywhere and can be an added cost. Instead, using handheld devices including mobile phones and tablets would be a better alternative. The smart phones, mobile network and mobile data have better penetration rates even in the developing nations which means increased accessibility to online learning for students and teachers alike.
To support students and teachers that don’t have access to adequate ICT infrastructure, academic institutes and governments can set up small ICT centres in the school premises where they can use the devices. As the number of students and teachers availing this benefit would be low, maintaining social distancing norms set by the government should not be a problem.
Devices and Internet
Government should allocate budget to provide ICT devices and internet connectivity to educators and students. They can also make devices available at subsidized rates by entering in public-private partnerships with technology companies and internet service providers.
To implement remote learning effectively, academic institutions should invest in learning platforms that can help streamline operations and management across all departments. This will also allow teachers to use technology to automate certain tasks such as scheduling, planning, sending reminders, attendance capturing, report generation and more.
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Schools and universities should have technical support personnel to help teachers and students navigate the technical difficulties of setting up the online education infrastructure. They should also be available to help them manage technical glitches to ensure optimum use of time and infrastructure. This will enable teachers and students to focus more on learning and less on the technical obstacles.
The future is bright!
Implementation of online education across the world is important if we are to ensure uninterrupted education. However, overcoming these infrastructural and technical challenges will take some time and effort.
What the educators and students have been trying to do and achieve for over a year with limited infrastructure and resources is commendable. It also makes us hopeful about the bright future of education and the world. Given the right resources and support, teachers and students will be able to leverage technology to make learning more impactful, useful and engaging creating a generation of inspired learners.