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New Delhi: Smartphone is the primary mode for online learning for 79% of students in India, while only 17% have access to laptops and 4% to tablets for learning purposes or attending online classes, shows India Lockdown Learning report by Vidyasaarathi, a scholarship management portal promoted by NSDL e-Governance to assist students in their education financing process.

Around 10,000 students in the age group of 12-28 years from across 400 Indian cities were interviewed for the survey. Around 90% of them came from families with annual incomes below 7 lakh.

Poor internet connection was reported to be the biggest challenge for 57% of the students, while 31% struggled to focus and 12% had difficulty in getting their doubts cleared during online learning.

For 59% students, online classes are being conducted over WhatsApp and Zoom calls, while only 30% of students are using the official online platform of the school or college they attend.

The report further shows 60% of the students spend around 1-4 hours everyday on online learning, while 31% around 4-8 hours and 8% around 8-12 hours, indicating a growing acceptance of online learning among students and teachers, despite challenges like limited screen size of smartphones and erratic internet connection.

The usage of online learning isn't limited to education. So if 62% of students are using it for curricular activities, 38% are using them for extra-curricular activities, out of which 39% are taking online courses on art and craft.

The survey was conducted to understand how students are embracing the shift to online learning, the challenges faced by them during the process and to highlight the need for dependable IT infrastructure to overcome those challenges.

After the lockdown, several communication platforms, including Microsoft Teams, made their services available free of cost for several months so students and educational institutions could take advantage of it.

Sale of refurbished laptops, tablets and smartphones also picked up after the lockdown lifted to meet the work and online learning related requirements. But due to the higher cost of laptops as compared to smartphones, the penetration among students is still low.

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