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A student accesses e-learning contents on mobile phones during a class as part of 'Online Education Mobile Library' initiative organised to provide online education to disadvantaged pupils, at a library in Mumbai on October 17, 2020. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (AFP)
A student accesses e-learning contents on mobile phones during a class as part of 'Online Education Mobile Library' initiative organised to provide online education to disadvantaged pupils, at a library in Mumbai on October 17, 2020. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP) (AFP)

E-learning inadequate and ineffective: Azim Premji University study

  • The study by the university across five states said an overwhelming majority of the teachers and parents want children to return to schools with necessary safety protocols

BENGALURU: Online education, which has become the norm amid the covid-19 pandemic, is ineffective and inadequate towards a child’s development, a study by Azim Premji University on remote learning, covering 1,522 schools and 80,000 students, has concluded.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced school authorities to shut down physical classrooms since March even as the pros and cons of e-learning have become a topic of heated debate among stakeholders.

Several states like Delhi plan to reopen schools next week onwards, and in Karnataka, school managements are intensely lobbying with the state government for the same.

The study by the university across five states, titled Myths of Online Education, said an overwhelming majority of teachers and parents want children to return to schools with necessary safety protocols.

“Online education is ineffective because of the basic character of education, and not merely because of lack of access to the net and online resources, especially for school-age children," said Anurag Behar, vice chancellor, Azim Premji University, while releasing the study in Bengaluru.

Education requires physical presence, attention, thought and emotions, all to be seen towards learning goals, step by step, often back and forth, and differently for each student. This requires intense verbal and non-verbal interactions amongst teachers and students, which is possible only in actual classes, he said.

Rahul Mukhopadhyay and Aanchal Chomal from the research team that conducted the study, noted that “the study revealed the ineffectiveness of remote learning solutions in providing meaningful learning opportunities, exclusion of majority of children due to poor access, and the professional frustration of teachers."

More than 80% teachers surveyed in the study expressed the lack of emotional connect with children during online classes. More than 90% teachers felt that no meaningful assessment of children’s learning was possible during online classes. Almost 70% of parents opined that online classes are not effective for children.

More than 60% children cannot access online education opportunities, the reasons include lack of access to smartphones. Around 90% of children with disabilities are unable to participate in online classes, their teachers told the survey. Almost 90% of parents are willing to send their children to school if the health of their children is taken care of when schools reopen.

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