In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic compelled schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions to adopt eLearning without adequate planning and preparation. The educational institutions decided to continue online classes in 2021 to keep teachers and students safe during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Several studies and surveys suggest a spike in eLearning adoption in both developed and developing countries in India. But most studies cite COVID-19 lockdowns and shutdowns as the key factor that drives eLearning adoption in India.
According to ResearchGate.net,
“The unexpected Plague of a deadly infection called COVID-19 caused by (SARS-Cov-2) trembled the whole world. The WHO announced it as a disease outbreak. This circumstance challenged the whole education system worldwide and compelled educators to change to an online mode immediately. Many educational organizations that were earlier unwilling to change their traditional didactic practice had no choice but to move exclusively to online teaching-learning.”
Many bloggers and reporters speculate that eLearning is not a sustainable solution to the education crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Likewise, many market analysts believe that the demand for eLearning solutions will decline in India after the pandemic gets over. Most educational organizations in India lack resources and strategies to abandon the traditional chalk-and-talk method of learning. Also, they have to address many existing and emerging challenges in learning to drive implementation and sustainability.
Identifying Key Challenges in Elearning Adoption by Educational Institutions in India
Boosting Access to the Internet
Most educational institutions reduce infrastructural costs using cloud-based eLearning solutions. The students need to access the cloud-based learning management system (LMS) or cloud-based virtual classroom software over the internet using either computers or mobile devices.
But a large percentage of students in India do not have access to the internet.
According to IndiaToday.in,
“Learning Spiral, one of India’s leading online examination solution providers, in a recent online survey found that above 50% of Indian students including both urban and rural areas don’t have access to the internet for online studies.”
Increasing Access to Digital Devices
The new-age learning management systems and virtual classroom platforms are developed by focusing on mobile user experience. The students can access the eLearning solutions on smartphones or tablets while attending online classes and studying on their own. But a recent study highlighted that many Indian students do not have access to mobile devices.
According to a study conducted by the NGO Smile Foundation,
“43.99 percent of surveyed children have access to smartphones and another 43.99 percent of students have access to basic phones while 12.02 percent do not have access to either smartphones or basic phones.”
Like low smartphone access, low internet access is one of the major challenges in eLearning adoption.
Increasing Internet Speed
No country can boost eLearning implementation and sustainability without improving mobile internet speeds and fixed broadband speeds consistently. But several studies noted a decline in internet speed in India in 2021.
According to NDTV Gadgets 360,
“India has dropped one rank for both mobile Internet speeds and fixed broadband speeds on Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index in December. The country reached the 129th position for mobile Internet speeds and dropped to 65th for fixed broadband speeds.”
Elearning will become sustainable in India only when the internet connection speed increases consistently.
Modernizing Teacher Training Programs
None of the top teacher-training courses in India prepare teachers and educators to teach students in classroom-based learning environments. None of these courses focus on preparing teachers to deliver eLearning or teach in a distributed environment. Most teachers in India lack the skill and experience required to leverage the features and tools included in new-age eLearning solutions.
They have to put in extra time and effort to boost knowledge delivery and retention using digital content and conducting objective assessments. But the modernization of teacher training courses will remain one of the long-term challenges in eLearning adoption.
Conducting Fair Examinations and Preventing Cheating
According to EducationWorld.in,
“38 percent undergraduate and 25 percent graduate students are the ones who paraphrase from books without footnoting. And 7 percent undergraduate and 4 percent graduate students are the ones who copy nearly word to word without citation.”
Teachers often find it challenging to prevent cheating in online courses due to the lack of skill and experience. But the new-generation online examination software provides features and tools that help teachers to overcome this eLearning adoption challenge by conducting fair and proctored examinations.
Keeping Students Interested and Engaged
Many educational institutions these days adopt eLearning successfully by integrating teacher-led learning and self-paced learning. The eLearning solutions enable educational institutions to implement blending learning. But the teachers cannot make students acquire and retain knowledge without keeping them interested, excited, engaged, and motivated.
The smarter teachers keep students engaged in virtual classrooms by implementing popular eLearning trends like gamification and live polling. But many teachers still find it challenging to improve student engagement by leveraging the features and tools included in cloud-based LMS solutions and virtual classroom software.
Creating Multi-Format Digital Content
Multi-format content access is one of the key characteristics of eLearning and digital learning. No educational institution can run online classes or deliver eLearning successfully without creating a variety of digital content – ebooks, documents, presentations, videos, audiobooks, and podcasts. In India, most educational institutions lack both skills and resources required to create digital content in multiple formats.
Many educational institutions overcome these constraints by outsourcing digital content creation. But eLearning solutions these days allow students to understand concepts or gather information by accessing digital content in many formats. Also, most LMSs these days come with built-in content authoring tools. Many ed-tech companies allow educational institutions to avail of cloud-based digital libraries. These can be integrated with other cloud-based eLearning solutions seamlessly.
The ed-tech companies and startups in India have been helping educational institutions to address existing and emerging challenges in eLearning adoption in a number of ways. Some edtech startups help educational institutions to continue online classes by overcoming infrastructural challenges by providing cloud-based learning management systems, virtual classroom software, and digital libraries. Likewise, many edtech startups for partnership with state governments to deliver eLearning to government school students with no access to mobile devices and the internet.