Conventional classrooms, blackboard teaching, taking down hurried notes, studying from books prescribed in the school curriculum…the standard norms of education in India are undergoing a paradigm shift. As India is embracing an unprecedented technology boom, the dynamics of education are rapidly taking on a digital dimension too. The traditional education system that is routinely under the scanner for its poor quality and lack of touch with reality now stands at a threshold of either being phased out or fused with online education in India, where students have a better scope of widening their horizons of learning and understanding.
A report titled Online Education in India: 2021 released by Google and KPMG India in 2016 projects an eight-fold increase in the online education market in a span of just five years, going up from $247 million in 2016 to $1.96 billion in 2021. The writing is on the wall – e-learning in India is poised to be the next big education trend.
While online courses and certification for higher education and re-skilling among working professionals have been in vogue for quite some time now, what’s brought on this momentous growth is the growing foothold of e-learning methods in primary and secondary education as well. The percolation of internet access to tier-two and three cities as well as small towns across the country has also played a crucial role in re-defining the parameters of learning.
Another evident trend is reliance on online learning for competitive exams. The KPMG reports states that the number of students using online platforms to complement their competitive preparation or even as a substitute to traditional methods of preparation is on the rise and is expected to increase notably over the next few years, reaching a whopping 64 percent by 2021. Ready access to mock tests, video tutorials, webinars and e-books has brought has projected e-learning as a viable alternative for cracking highly competitive entrance tests such as JEE, NEET, CAT and CLAT.
Reason behind Growing Popularity of Online Education in India
So, what has brought on this sudden transformation in the hitherto textbook-centric learning culture in India? Some of the key reasons for the growing focus on e-learning in India are:
Internet and Smartphone Penetration:
Until the turn of the century, internet connectivity was dodgy and smartphones unheard of in India. In less than two decades, the internet and smart gadgets have penetrated our lives in a way that it is difficult to recall how we functioned without them. This continually widening internet and smartphone user base has stimulated growth of online education platforms, making them come of age as a truly reliable alternative to traditional tools of learning.
The freedom to study anywhere, anytime is one of the biggest advantages of e-learning over classroom learning. The flexibility to continue their education or fit in test preparation modules into an already packed schedule with professional and personal commitments is what makes it a lucrative option for adults.
Improved Quality of Education:
For school and college students, the improved quality of education is one of the biggest draw cards for leaning toward online learning. The advancement of e-learning in India has proven extremely beneficial for students in under-developed states and backward areas. Lakhs of students from states like Bihar and Jammu Kashmir today are enrolling in online distance learning programs to complete their education.
Access to Wider Study Materials:
Printed books are often far costlier than their digital counterparts. Apart from e-books, online learning also opens doors to a lot of other avenues of learning, such as research papers, online tutorials, videos and audio books, helping students master the subject or topic at hand.
The government’s initiatives to strengthen the infrastructure needed to support online education through schemes such as eBasta, SWAYAM and Digital India has also propelled the popularity of e-learning in India.
Online education in India is a lot more affordable than conventional education programs, especially in case of under-graduate or post-graduate courses. It also helps in cutting costs for students in small towns and villages by eliminating the need to travel to a bigger city and bear the expenses of accommodation, food and other logistics.
The Way Forward:
As is clear from the current trends, online channel of learning are going to be the next big thing in the education sector. This is not to say that classroom learning as we know it today will be completely eliminated in the near future, but the growing favourability for online learning will pave way for a hybrid model where classroom learning is fused with online methods.