Online learning was a foreign concept in India until the deadly virus hit us and forced us to stay indoors. Studying, working, learning outside of college or work premises was barely a practice in India. Work meant going to the office and learning implied you must go to a physical institute. Kids found using any sort of technological gadget were assumed to be either busy playing games or watching movies and shows for entertainment.
Virtual learning platforms were certainly not born during the pandemic but they boomed massively when people were compelled to work, study, and learn- all from home. This was the time when video conferencing platforms realised their potential. They could foresee the upcoming growth and understood how crucial it was to up their game. Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams became a popular household name.
In the year 2019, Zoom had about 10 million meeting participants daily. The number has now crossed a whopping 350 million. The company’s revenue was 4 times in the year 2020 as compared to the year 2019. From meetings and interviews to birthdays and baby showers, everything is now seamlessly carried out via Zoom.
To combat digital difficulties and security concerns, Zoom and other such video conferencing platforms also introduced advanced features like waiting room, longer passwords, and PIN numbers. A horde of other important and user-friendly features like virtual backgrounds, filters, gallery view, multi-pin & multi-spotlight, breakout rooms, emoji reactions, background noise suppression, and more were also introduced.
The transition however has not been simple for people. It was difficult to get accustomed to the new normal. We have all seen several “funny videos” where people didn’t understand how to take a filter off or of instances where people did not realise that their cameras and mics were still on as they innocuously shared some very personal details. But keeping the controversial part aside, online learning and working did prove to be beneficial for a lot of us in the longer run.
We finally started understanding the importance of taking time out for ourselves. All of us began to focus on our internal as well as external well-being. We explored courses on everything from coding to cooking, gardening to learning foreign languages. People got a chance to impart the knowledge they had from the comfort of their homes.
Content creators across all platforms saw this as a wonderful opportunity and we had an educational wave to keep us distracted from the COVID-19 wave. Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms now have a series of videos on health, diet, financial literacy, investments, etc.
Bright side of things
We eventually made peace with staying locked inside and nourished our hobbies and interests. Online learning made a lot of things possible. It had multiple benefits. One of the major benefits being ease of accessibility. Geographical boundaries acted as a hindrance to being a part of any program in the pre-pandemic era. With all things being made virtual, this was not a problem anymore. One could attend a session while sitting in a village in India being conducted by someone residing in London. Famous singers like Neha Kakkar also joined the tribe and started offering their knowledge in the form of online sessions.
Online sessions are not just limited to Zoom and Google meet anymore. The pandemic opened doors for new platforms who also welcomed new talent. People are also more accepting of new things, honing skills, and giving everyone a fair opportunity to display their talent and teach them something they are keen on learning.
Technology has made it very easy to record all sessions. With the option of recorded sessions, one need not worry about being unable to reach somewhere. One need not squeeze the sessions amidst a hectic day at work. One can pay for the course and access the session at any time suitable to them. Access to recordings of sessions can be as long as lifetime which makes it convenient for both the ones conducting the sessions as well as the ones attending them.
On the other hand, a live group or one on one session has made it possible to monitor things fuss-free. Online experts are more than happy to solve all doubts, answer any queries, and guide during and post the sessions.
Given that the sessions happen from home with little to no expensive equipment involved, the rates of the sessions also naturally dropped. The ones conducting the sessions weren’t mandated to have an office space or rent a studio. Refreshments in between the sessions were out of question. No printouts and no stationary were required to be distributed which brought down the overall cost of the sessions. This made it easier for people to accept the online nature of classes.
The pandemic had anyway brought a lot of uncertainty and financial crunch. Learning something, upgrading oneself, and investing time into something fruitful without burning a hole in the pocket was therefore welcomed by all.
Online learning among kids
While one can’t guarantee if parents loved the idea of online school, it certainly has some pros. Kids are unfortunately deprived of a playground, wide open spaces, and company of friends. However, they are now exposed to multiple audio-visual tools. Pictures, graphics, and movies don’t just make learning a fun process, they also make it easier for a child to grasp and understand complex concepts.
Both parents and teachers can assess and monitor an individual child’s performance. Hindrances like no school due to extreme weather conditions, inability to attend school because of missing the school bus, are some other small yet important advantages.
We still have a long way to go. The vaccine is a sigh of relief but a lot of things will remain changed forever. It is neither possible nor preferred by the masses to stay indoors all day. One wishes to take a break from the virtual world and meet people in person. However, the trust and reliance over technology has ensured that we can do a lot even while indoors. This has also paved the way for people who lack the means/resources/finances to conduct or attend in person sessions. The future therefore will have a combination of both physical and virtual sessions. As is the case with every activity we do, the key element here is balance- to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Accepting technology, facilitating new yet beneficial changes, and being available for in person physical sessions is what we need to aim at. Embracing the new normal while hoping for safer learning methods both indoors and outdoors is the way ahead!