Is Online Learning The New Normal?

Virtual education is getting a major push with the help of multiple online learning sites.

COVID-19 has affected every major industry around the world ever since it was detected in Wuhan, China. Almost every industry is trying to accept a ‘new normal’. Even the education system has been overhauled and it seems that online learning or virtual learning has become the new normal. Distance and online education have always been a core part of the curriculum for many decades, but the ongoing health crisis has increased its volume and dependency.  

You can find plenty of online platforms with programs or learning apps that feature courses for everyone from absolute beginners to those who simply want to specialise in their respective choices. These are usually for students and working professionals who want to pursue specialised skill learning. These are short-term courses designed by the fact that most people nowadays have short attention spans and very little time. The reason why they’ve become so popular now is that more people have time to pursue interests they once chose not to prioritise before the pandemic.

Today, they have the time. Also, as a lot of people have lost their jobs due to the ongoing pandemic, these courses help to sharpen skill sets, enabling people to launch something of their own or stay relevant while applying for other jobs. These apps are more inclusive as anyone interested in access to a smartphone or laptop with an internet connection can sign up for them.

You Can Enrol At Various Online Learning Platforms Such As

1. Duolingo

Duolingo, Online language Learning

This American platform is probably one of the most famous language-learning apps. The app is designed more like a game than a traditional course and focuses on making language learning intuitive. You can even connect with friends and family on Facebook and make it a competition!

Also Read: Best Online Language Courses For Any Level

2. Khan Academy

Khan academy logo

This learning platform is an American non-profit educational organisation created in 2008 by Salman Khan that offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalised learning dashboard. With the aim of creating a set of online tools to help educate students, the organisation tackles subjects like math, science, computing, history, art history, economics, and more, including K-14 and test preparation (SAT, Praxis, LSAT) content.

3. UpGrad

UpGrad a platform to learn online

This online higher education platform provides rigorous industry-relevant programs designed and delivered in collaboration with its exceptional faculty and industry. The platform is the official education partner for the Government of India initiative Startup India program and merges the latest technology, pedagogy, and services to create an immersive learning experience that you can access anytime and anywhere.

4. Udemy

Udemy logo, an online learning platform

One of the largest and most cost-effective online learning platforms, Udemy was founded in 2010 and designed for professional adults and students. Today, it has 57K instructors, offering 150K courses, with 33M minutes of video in over 65 languages. The courses are offered across a variety of categories, including practical subjects such as Excel software or simple ones like how to use an iPhone camera.

5. Coursera

Coursera logo, Online Learning
Source: Wikimedia commons

This worldwide online learning platform offers top online courses popularly known as MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses, from top universities and companies around the world. Hundreds of courses on  Coursera also provide quizzes, weekly exercises, peer-graded assignments, an optional Honors assignment, and sometimes, even a final project or exam.

This platform with its unparalleled range of course titles currently has 64 million learners from around the world who have come to hone their skills. 

6. MasterClass

Masterclass logo for specialised classes from experts
Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is another American online learning platform that offers an immersive online experience created for students of all skill levels. One gets to be the best by learning from the best—online classes are conducted with renowned personalities in their respective fields. Therefore, the classes may not be typically interactive but they include extensive pre-recorded video content, a class workbook, interactive assignments, and community activities, all designed by the instructor. 

7. SkillShare

Skill share, a learning platform
Source: Wikimedia Commons

This online learning platform offers classes taught by the world’s best practitioners. On this platform, you can teach and learn from various short courses that range from design, photography, business, and even lifestyle. The platform focuses on interaction rather than lecturing, with the primary goal of learning by completing a project. 

8. edX

EdX logo
Source: Wikimedia Commons

A trusted platform for online learning, edX offers the world’s best professors and leading industry experts for learning. This MOOC provider hosts online university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines, including some that are even free of cost. edX is a nonprofit organisation that runs on the free Open edX open-source software platform and also conducts research into learning based on how people use its platform. 

Is The Education System Equipped For Online Learning?

As countries around the world are switching to online classes for students, the question arises—Are we equipped for this change? While virtual learning has solved many issues, such as rigidity with the classes, class time mandate, and the dreaded attendance feature, it has also widened the inequalities. With the spread of COVID-19, startling disparities in digital learning have emerged. Figures compiled by the Teacher Task Force, an international alliance coordinated by UNESCO, have found that half of all students currently out of the classroom—or nearly 830 million students globally—do not have access to a computer. Moreover, more than 40 percent have no internet access at home. The report made by this Union Education Agency with the help of data from the UN agency’s Institute for Statistics and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) notes, disparities in distance education is particularly evident in low-income countries.

The agency also notes that while having a mobile phone can support young learners, in accessing information or connecting with their teachers, for example, around 56 million live in areas that are not served by mobile networks; almost half in sub-Saharan Africa. Even for teachers in countries with reliable infrastructure and household connectivity, online learning is a rapid transition. Therefore, they need to be trained to deliver distance and online education. Aneesha Bedi writing for ‘The Print’ reports how nearly 16 lakh children from poor families studying in government and municipal schools in Delhi are staring at disruptions in their studies without access to mobiles, internet, and laptops, or desktops. Shayan Das writing for ‘The Hindu’ asks how a class could be limited to a small number of privileged students, given that a large number of students in the country have no access to a smartphone or the Internet.

It is important to remember that not all students have access to the required hardware and connectivity for online learning. Colleges and schools need to consider ways of aiding students who are vulnerable to falling behind without access to online resources.

Also Read: 11 Ways To Be A Better Traveller Post Lockdown


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