The ongoing pandemic has induced a massive disruption to educational institutions worldwide. Across the globe, teachers and the institutions for which they work have had to adapt to online learning environments. The organizations with the strongest training and support for teachers and the most robust online platforms have excelled the most in this environment.
However, I have received a clear signal from parents that once the pandemic ends, there will be a larger leaning towards offline learning. US-based EdTech Magazine conducted a survey where they profiled 1,200 educators. The survey revealed that 31% of those profiled said online learning is their biggest barrier to maximizing student success. A further 13 per cent attributed the lack of technology training for teachers as a challenge.
India is no different. A survey at the start of the year by Azim Premji University highlighted how students have lost their ability to recall basic mathematical concepts due to the absence of physical classes.
Furthermore, the disparity in access to the internet, electricity, and devices like computers or smartphones has emerged as the major reasons for students unable to access online classes in India. The United States and the United Kingdom also reported a disparity in learning when it came to students studying in public and private schools, with public school teachers struggling with online teaching techniques.
It’s not just a problem faced by India. A report by McKinsey highlighted the difficulties faced by economically backward communities in the United States and the loss of learning during this period. Private schools, however, with all the facilities managed to continue schooling, with students getting personal tutors during this phase.
So where does this leave online education in a post-pandemic world? For starters, we need to look at ourselves as after-school programmes rather than remedial solutions for students struggling in academics. This means that instead of focusing on completing a syllabus that schools are required to do during the course of an academic year, we can help the child master the topic based on his\her learning ability.
The success of personalised learning has been proven time and time again. In the US city of Chicago, schools had focused on a one-on-one tutoring approach for students, which saw students learning two years of their curriculum during the pandemic. Notably, this was during the same time reports from around the world were reporting a loss of learning.
Governments and educational institutions need to work together to formulate the idea of having smaller classrooms. In a country like ours, this may prove to be a challenge, but this is where EdTech can play a key factor in working with schools. While schools have their own set of teachers, associating with leading EdTech players will also give these schools access to more teachers, thereby ensuring that the teacher-student ratio is not 1:60, but something relatively smaller to ensure more personalized tutoring, as each student in a smaller class is more likely to get individual attention.
Online learning platforms provide interfaces that allow teachers to connect with students over the internet, rather than have a pre-recorded class. These interfaces are in-built with an AI system that determines the knowledge and skill-set of students and thereby enabling a personalized learning experience at a pace where they find it manageable to grasp a concept.
The pandemic has made more students and their parents not only comfortable with but actually enthusiastic about online learning due to the level of personalisation, convenience, and real-time feedback that this approach allows. The math and coding coaching industry have typically operated largely in-person worldwide, but as our growth has shown, the future of this industry is online. Across the broader edtech market, as more players enter the space, the winners will be the ones who focus on outcomes and personalisation and who remember that above all learning should be fun.