India’s effort to promote digital education during COVID-pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions in our daily life. As a result over 240 million children in India enrolled in schools have been severely affected. School closures for an extended period of time may result in a loss of learning. To reduce the pandemic’s impact, schools will need to not only reconstruct and reinvent how teaching and learning have been done in the past but also establish a proper approach of delivering excellent education through a healthy balance of schooling at home and schooling in classrooms.

Digital Education is a developing field that focuses on the teaching-learning process through the use of digital media. This has progressed from activities such as text resource sharing and students submitting assignments online to the provision of a wide range of content formats such as audio, video, and multimedia resources. Multiple types of digital education are now possible because of constant advancements in the fields of information and communication technology (ICT) and the internet (with a virtually limitless supply of digital resources).

While digital or online education cannot completely replace traditional classroom learning, it does have significant advantages. It enables flexible and personalized learning at the learner’s own pace, as well as the ability to continually enhance and expand knowledge via digital means. The rapid growth of internet usage, as well as many government initiatives such as the Digital India campaign, have produced an atmosphere that is favourable to the transition to digital education.

This will be supplemented by the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s (MHRD) recent announcement of PM e-Vidya, a nationwide initiative that will integrate all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education. DIKSHA (one nation, one digital platform), TV (one class, one channel), SWAYAM (online MOOCs on various themes), IITPAL (platform for exam preparation), AIR (via community radio and the CBSE Shiksha Vani podcast), and NIOS-developed study materials for differently-abled children are among these.

The MHRD will phase in the expansion and development of all of these areas of e-learning in a methodical and consistent manner. The MHRD has funded computer laboratories, smart screens, and other technology in many Indian schools. DIKSHA, a digital platform, has already been adopted by twenty-nine states/UTs. Many teachers in numerous states/UTs are gradually becoming accustomed to incorporating ICT into the teaching process. PRAGYATA is an eight-step process for implementing online/digital education.

In the wake of the COVID outbreak, the Human Resource and Development Ministry has issued instructions for schools to implement online lessons. The PRAGYATA guidelines on digital education were virtually released by Union Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in 2020. The MHRD’s PRAGYATA guidelines recommended that online sessions for pre-primary students should last no more than 30 minutes every day. It is recommended that no more than two online sessions of up to 45 minutes each be done per day for class 1 to 8. The recommendations were created with the entire development of students in mind, with the goal of reducing excessive screen time. For senior students in classes 9 to 12, the Ministry has recommended that online classes be limited to a maximum of four 45-minute sessions.

The PRAGYATA guidelines were created for students, with a focus on online, digital learning for students who are now at home due to lockdown. The Digital Education Guidelines provide a framework for moving forward with online education in order to improve educational quality. The guidelines ensure the adoption of NCERT’s alternative academic calendar for both students with access to digital devices and students with little or no accessibility. These guidelines also serve as a road map or set of guidelines for advancing online education in order to improve educational quality. A wide range of stakeholders, including school administrators, teachers, parents, teacher educators, and students, will find the guidelines relevant and valuable. Plan- Review- Arrange- Guide- Yak (talk)- Assign- Track- Appreciate are the eight processes of digital learning outlined in the PRAGYATA guidelines. These steps provide step-by-step instructions with examples for planning and implementing digital education. The Guidelines also stress the importance of coordinating all activities connected to digital, online education, which will benefit students across the country. DIKSHA, SWAYAM Prabha, Radio Vahini, and Shiksha Vaani are part of the initiative.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Editor

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