Ushering in the era of Digital Social Education
“I grew up in the physical world and I speak English. The next generation is growing up in a digital world and they speak social.” Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail at Apple Inc., wisely quoted.
In the new age of technology-enabled education, when one thinks of the traditional classroom set-up, one reflects back to the good old school days - the teachers, the dusty classrooms, the smell of old books and of course time spent with friends. To my mind, the most important part of traditional or classroom education is the human element of the interaction. You go to school, you get face time with teachers, sit through lectures that you may or may not enjoy, meet peers and hang-out with friends. You write your own notes, remember what you can from your classes and figure out the rest on your own. That era seems to be fading into the new age tech revolution.
Today, we’re ushering in the age of digital social education that’s sidestepping some of the challenges of classroom-based learning. Learning that is no longer restricted to physical classrooms or those who can afford expensive education, it is increasingly becoming available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Many of us often end up getting new information through social media channels – feeds on Facebook and Twitter bring news about important happenings around the globe and we too take to these platforms to share our opinions and learnings about the world around us.This change in consumption of information has played a vital role in the increasing adoption of digital learning in India.
Let’s look at the facts, India has the fastest growing population of internet users and is the second largest smartphone market in the world in terms of active unique users, and is expected to reach 550mn by 2020. An average Indian spends 169 minutes per day on his/her smartphone and the average age of internet surfers is getting younger with each passing year. According to a 2016 report by Technopak, India’s digital learning market is estimated at $2 billion and thanks to the Government of India’s efforts, and several enterprising start-ups who have been able to successfully create digital learning platforms, India has become a very lucrative market for digital education.
Online Programs provide flexibility. They give users the luxury to pursue courses at their convenience, agility to go back to previous lessons, spend more time on certain subjects, and progress at their own pace. Many leading foreign universities have also started digital learning curriculums in India. In 2016, Harvard Business review made history by breaking norms and rolling out digital learning initiatives specifically for India, a first move outside the US. Such initiatives help in bridging the gap between talent, universities and organizations.
Apart from students, digital education programs work well for professionals or those who are looking to expand their knowledge and skill base. In today’s competitive corporate environment, distance learning and online certifications courses have almost become a ‘job requirement’ for working professionals who are increasingly trying to enhance their skillset to stay ahead of the curve. Digital programs have opened up a gamut of opportunities for those looking to enter new fields without having to take time off from their jobs or breakfamily commitments, at probably less than half the cost.
However, one important factor to consider before taking up an online course is your attitude towards learning. Are you someone who is self-motivated and able to stick to a schedule and see it through? If not, perhaps Classroom Learning will work better for you. While both online and on-campus classes require discipline, individuals pursuing online programs need to be highly self-motivated. They should be able to set deadlines, study independently and prioritize course work in order to complete the course they’ve taken up.
One of the most important elements of Classroom Programs is the human connect. If you are someone who needs interaction with peers and teachers in order to succeed, then Classroom Programs are better suited for you. Traditional Classroom Programs offer the sanctuary of a tried and tested format and an eclectic mix of students in a classroom can enhance learning through idea sharing, presentations, discussions, group assignments etc.
If teachers are able to engage students and adequately use tech-enabled methods to inculcate active learning, a positive and high-impact learning environment gets created.
It is important to understand that both Online and Classroom Programs have proven to be effective learning methods, each has its own specific advantages and challenges. While disruption is inevitable through technology, the classroom will never lose its place as a high-impact, high-engagement form of learning. At the same time, when done well,Online Learning has a far wider reach and provides access to richer learning tools, aids and materials.
Today, the Education Sector in India is at an inflection point and the future will be bright for those who are able to take the best of Classroom Learning and integrate it with Online Programs.
This article has been authored by Kunal Sandhu, Founder & CEO, CogitoHub