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Supporting traditional education or widening digital divide?

The upcoming academic year has proved to be a goldmine for online learning platforms.

Published: 24th May 2020 06:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th May 2020 06:52 AM   |  A+A-

Education fees, School fees

Representational image (Express Illustration)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The upcoming academic year has proved to be a goldmine for online learning platforms. While online learning was just a choice earlier, it has now become more of a necessity, thanks to anxious parents who are worried about their children’s performance in the absence of regular classes. 

Cashing in on the parent’s anxiety, expensive online learning platforms that offer classes beyond what is provided in schools, have mushroomed in the recent past. This has left children from underprivileged homes at a clear disadvantage. The online learning platforms rope in principals of leading schools and prompt them to canvas their product through schools. Recently, a slew of complaints has emerged against online learning apps. Besides being unaffordable for a large section of parents, these apps do not take into account the individual learning needs of children. In some cases, the learning apps instruct students to follow methods that are diametrically opposite to the methods taught in schools, creating confusion in young minds. 

“Students begin to compare instructors in the learning apps with teachers in their schools. The children also attempt to berate their teacher going by the standards of their online instructors. There have been numerous instances of student-teacher conflict due to such unnecessary comparisons,” said T P Jawad, a clinical psychologist based in Kozhikode. 

Creating haves and have-nots? 
Online learning apps have gained popularity at a time when recent surveys have shown that as many as 2.6 lakh students in the state do not have a computer, smartphone, TV or internet connection at home. According to education activist M Shajarkhan, the proliferation of online learning platforms will only widen the digital divide.

 “Already, surveys have shown that many students do not have access to the internet. Attempts to replace traditional learning with online mode will only result in a number of students being deprived of the benefit,” Shajarkhan cautioned. He also pointed out that such online tools should only be used as a supplementary resource. Social and life skills that students get from a school environment can never be provided in online instruction. 


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