COVID-19 lockdown: Digital Learning sees big upsurge in India

50-65 percent of students in higher education institutions are participating in some form of e-learning in India. The various e-learning platforms of the HRD Ministry have seen an unprecedented combined access of over 1.4 crore.

Guwahati, April 10:

E-learning in the country has witnessed an appreciable upsurge during the past two weeks. As all forms of educational institutions are closed due to COVID-19 lockdown across the country, students and teachers are moving towards various e-learning platforms in a big way. Giving this insights, a Press Information Bureau release states that Union HRD Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has been in regular touch with heads of institutions through video conferencing, giving necessary guidance and directions, and receiving feedback in this regard.

Booming time for telecommunication apps

Both schools and higher education institutions have started various modes of online classes and sharing of study material depending on the resources available with them and with the students. These range from structured online classes through platforms like Skype, Zoom, Google Classroom, Google Hangout, Piazza to teachers uploading lectures and class notes through YouTube, WhatsApp, sharing links of digital learning resources like SWAYAM, NPTEL, providing access to online journals.

50-65 percent upsurge in digital learning

According to the PIB communique, about 50-65 percent of students in higher education institutions like Central Universities, IITs, IIITs, NITs, IISERs are participating in some form of e-learning. Off course the lack of internet connectivity and other required digital infrastructure with students is proving to be an impediment to e-learning in many cases. To overcome this problem to some extent, teachers are also sharing slides or hand written notes apart from recorded lectures and live sessions so that students with uncertain network access can also get at least some material. Recorded lectures ensure that a short term problem with network access does not block out a student. Faculty members are doing online chat sessions with students to answer any queries that they may have.

1.4 crores hits since lockdown

The various e-learning platforms of the HRD Ministry have also seen an unprecedented combined access of over 1.4 crore since 23rd March 2020. The National Online Education Platform SWAYAM has been accessed nearly 2.5 lakh times till 8th April 2020, which is about a five time increase over the figure of 50,000 strikes in the last week of March. This is in addition to about 26 lakh learners already enrolled in the 574 courses available on the SWAYAM platform. Likewise, nearly 59000 people are viewing the videos of the SWAYAM Prabha DTH TV channels every day, and more than 6.8 lakh people have watched these since the lockdown began.

Similar is the case with the other digital initiatives of the Ministry and organizations under it.The National Digital Library was accessed about 1,60,804 times in just one day on Wednesday, and about 14,51,886 times during the lockdown period, as against about 22000 daily strikes earlier. The Education portals of NCERT like DIKSHA, e-pathasala, National Repository of Open Educational Resources, Senior Secondary Courses of NIOS, NPTEL, NEAT, AICTE Student-College helpline web portal, AICTE Training and Learning(ATAL), IGNOU Courses, UGC MOOCS courses and the other ICT initiatives like Robotics education (e-Yantra), Open Source Software for Education (FOSSEE), Virtual experiments (Virtual Labs) and Learning programming (Spoken tutorial) are also experiencing very large access rates.

Shri Pokhriyal said that for a large number of students who do not have access to computer and internet, the Ministry is promoting learning through the television. The Minister urged students to also make optimum use of this to supplement their learning.

It may be noted that besides government and autonomous institutions, private universities and institutions are also taking the digital path to keep the continuity of learning during lockdown period. As mentioned earlier, the various video conferencing platforms have seen increased access during the past two weeks.

(With PIB inputs)

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