The transition to online learning during the coronavirus-induced lockdown in India was done rather well, though unequal access to digital learning devices as well as lack of internet connectivity were major issues, according to the findings of a new report from Oxford University Press (OUP).
The pandemic has paved the way for a hybrid model in education, combining digital and traditional methods of teaching and learning, but governments need to act so that progress from the past year is not lost, according to the report “Education: The Journey Towards a Digital Revolution”.
It captured insights from experts across seven markets — India, the UK, Brazil, South Africa, Pakistan, Spain, and Turkey — as well as from hundreds of teachers globally, and extensive secondary research. With the pandemic affecting more than 1.7 billion students worldwide over the past 12 months, the report analyzed how teachers, students, and parents adapted to new ways of delivering education and will continue to utilise digital learning tools and resources to shape educational practice in the future.
“In India, compared to other countries, respondents felt that the transition to online learning was done rather well, scoring 3.3/5. However, a major issue identified by respondents was unequal access to digital learning devices, as well as a lack of internet connectivity and little familiarity around the tools required to facilitate online learning,” the report said.
“The majority of respondents in India (71 per cent) also felt that shifting to online has been detrimental to wellbeing. The priority for the government is to provide more funding, as well as addressing connectivity issues, particularly in rural areas,” it said.
The top three issues identified as having a negative impact on digital learning were: socio-economic barriers, lack of professional development opportunities for teachers, and disruption or uncertainty in day-to-day life caused by the pandemic. When asked what steps the government should take to support digital learning, the respondents sought support for improving connectivity, increased funding for technology and more professional development opportunities for teachers.
Speaking about the research, OUP CEO Nigel Portwood said the pandemic has, unsurprisingly, prompted a rapid increase in the adoption of digital learning.
“As we start to reimagine what education may look like in the future, it is imperative that the governments learn from those who have been on the frontline, delivering and receiving learning. We have a huge opportunity to learn from all our experience to develop education systems that will work for both local and global society,” he said.