Updated: October 21, 2021 7:16:28 pm
With almost all states reopening schools, offline classes are gradually being resumed. Parents, however, are apprehensive about sending their children to schools flagging concerns related to safety. With online learning being the new normal, education technology platforms have introduced extra-curricular activities apart from general education.
A report by BARC India and Nielsen reveals that there has been a 30 per cent increase in the time-spent on education apps on smartphones since the 2020 lockdown. Though the edtech platforms provided real-time learning with the best technological upgrades, extracurricular activities remained an area of concern. Schools even criticised the gamification and glamorisation of education by these platforms and went to the extent of calling them profit-making ventures.
Covering the wide space of holistic education
While K-12 education and test preparation remain valuable areas even today, there is now a rising focus on holistic development, with the tech platform moving towards STEM kits, certification courses, and extracurricular activities.
Vedantu, an ed-tech platform recently introduced V-Nurture and Super School that offers free for all live master classes on yoga, storytelling, arts, crafts, STEM, Vedic maths, public speaking, creative writing and much more starting from kindergarten until grade 8.
Pulkit Jain, co-founder and products head, Vedantu, said that one of the reasons to enter the extra-curricular activities space is to provide students with a holistic platform. “Before launching these co-curricular courses, we had conducted a survey of which half of the respondents rated such non-academic courses a 9 or 10/10 which clearly stated the demand from parents as well,” he said
“Taking a cue from the survey results, we decided to introduce this category to provide students interesting post-class activities that help in boosting a child’s emotional, behavioural, and overall holistic development to make them future-ready for all walks of life. The aim is to help students discover their creative thinking and thereby grow, learn, blossom,” Jain explained.
Similarly, another ed-tech company PurpleTutors recently launched courses on 3D game design (Roblox) for kids. The course is designed in a way to activate both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. In addition to coding and logical thinking skills of the left brain, it involves creative thinking and spatial visualisation.
“Roblox was made live across our geographies a couple of months ago and in a short span of time, we have 2,000+ students that have registered with us for Roblox. Coding/skill-building courses, in general, have gained popularity. We’ve seen good demand from parents who are keen to get their kids exposed to Python, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and even Roblox. We’ve also a list of such courses lined up to be launched soon,” Gaurav Perti, Founder and CEO, PurpleTutor said.
Eupheus Learning — which provides ed-tech solutions to around 5,500 schools in Kinesthetic learning, reading enhancement, STEM/STEAM, and English language learning — has observed a shift of even schools towards e-learning solutions.
Amit Kapoor, co-founder, Eupheus learning said, ”NEP 2020’s mandate has encouraged the use of technology and digital advancements in education and edtech platforms have been deploying this to their advantage. The world was experimenting with a hybrid structure of education/ learning for a long, and pandemic accelerated digital adoption in the last 18 months. This will impact the usage and learning behaviour of students, parents and teachers alike.”
The extended growth in online learning platforms is not just limited to the K-12 section but also taking over the higher education space. In the last one year, the demand for techno-functional courses has also plunged. With the increased demand, the ed-tech platforms are also focusing on to cater them.
Ranjita Raman, CEO, Jaro Education said, “We have observed nearly 30 per cent growth in the demand for the technology-focused programs amongst working professionals and students in the last one year. As per the industry demand, we have also increased our program portfolio in the technology-focused segment up to 40 per cent.”
Parents divided on the case
With ed-tech platforms launching holistic development courses, parents are divided on their permanent role. Kanika Sonwal, a parent from Delhi, said that the holistic curriculum provided by the digital education platform is a good alternate not just during the pandemic but even in the future. “Ed-tech platforms are constructive tools for homeschooling one’s child. With these platforms, kids can learn at a speed that is comfortable for them without the added pressure of performance,” Sonwal said.
Meanwhile, Prateek Suri, a parent of a 7-year-old has enrolled his child into abacus and public speaking online classes. “The pandemic has restricted the movement of children and it’s an added burden to keep them entertained yet productive throughout the day. I enrolled my son into online classes so as to keep him out of the monotony,” Suri said.
However, Asha Premi of Noida, a banker, and mother of two kids aged 6 and 10 said that the environment students gain in the classroom is unparalleled. “My daughter has been an active achiever and performer in school but since the pandemic hit her interest in online education has declined. The learning and competitive environment kids experience at school cannot be substituted and edtech platforms are just an alternative during the pandemic,” she said.
Schools cite e-learning as a temporary shift
Manju Rana, principal, Seth Anandram Jaipuria School, Ghaziabad believes that the parents’ bend towards digital education platforms can seem fit in the initial years of education but it will restrict the interpersonal skills and capabilities of children.
“Using edtech platforms for homeschooling can be a preferred and feasible mode for students in cities where quality education is not available. Also, in the initial years of education especially at the pre-primary level where parents are reluctant to send their children to schools, the ed-tech platforms do stand as good alternatives for parents to homeschool their children,” she said.
“Given the pandemic and a students’ containment to their homes, there could be rising popularity in parents choosing various online courses to engage their children. However, this shift is temporary,” she further added.
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