What comes to your mind when you hear the word 'classroom'? Teacher, students, screeching of the chalk on the blackboard and the students' noise in the background? We are familiar with this. Classroom Education has been an integral part of our learning at different levels and enjoys wide acceptance and appreciation in India and worldwide.
Online Education is becoming a widely accepted form of learning in many parts of the world and enjoys a massive fan-base. While a sector of the student and Teacher fraternity is still to come to terms with the changing dynamics of Education, we cannot stay blind to how online learning addresses the challenges of Classroom learning
According to a report, there are an estimated 5.4 million students (25.8% of the college population) have taken at least one online class in their life. In the year 2020 alone, which will go down in history as COVID-19 Era, a staggering --- students in all age groups are learning online. Isn't that amazing? Going beyond the geographical and emotional borders, millions of students who have benefited from online learning continue to do so.
Let us take a tour of the traditional learning system that typically happened in a classroom and understand its limitations and how it created a skill-gap between the Employers and the Employees in the Technology space?
According to the latest reports, the Tech Industry is growing at the rate of 27%, leaving a massive gap between itself and Academia. The numbers are especially alarming for some of the latest Technologies; according to a 2020 McKinsey Survey, Data Analytics, IT Web Design, & Management, and Executive Management show a 43%, 26%, and 25% skill gap, respectively.
Let us look at the mammoth issue of skill-gap from an organization's perspective. Organizations seek highly educated and skilled individuals who can lead with confidence. We are witnessing the tremendous rate at which new technologies are being invented, replacing their older counterparts. There is a demand for highly knowledgeable individuals who could see the Future of these technologies and leverage their potentials.
Can the industries and corporates fallback on the present education providers to fulfill their workforce requirements in these tech domains. Well, partially so.
For reasons you will learn in this blog, Academia is unable to match the long stride of the Technology and the result? A skill-gap. It kept growing over time and showed no signs of vanishing until a new form of education became available and soon captivated all its learners with its unique features and engagement levels.
In India for example, until recently, the Universities updated their curriculum once in 10 years (depending on the program's nature). In any case, it is safe to say that it is not before five years that the curriculum is entirely revised. (Barring minor changes and restructuring).
In a world where technology and professional practices are growing exponentially, don't you think the Academic world has to step into the arena by equipping the learners with the latest knowledge and skills required to contribute their best to the economy? If yes, what is stopping them from making it happen?
Well, it is easier said than done.
There is resource constraint, coupled with the expenditure and the time factor.
On the other hand, online learning mainly relies on digital content and is supplemented by printed material for those willing to go the extra mile and gain additional information. Unlike a printed textbook, there is practically no limit to how much one can learn through online resources.
Gone are the days when students resorted to rote learning and reproduced it on the exam papers. While it gave false evaluations about one's abilities to handle professional tasks, it also failed to identify the real talents.
The rarely updated curriculum, the inadequacy of effective methods to map a student's potential to the job requirements, and the challenges posed by the offline classes' structure all contributed equally to the widening skill gap between the Academic and Industry. With each passing year, the skill gap increased and forced organizations to invest time, energy, money, and resources on, corporate training.
Online learning aims to bring a more practical approach to the program, combining live projects, case studies, industry webinars, discussion forums, and other interactive elements to encourage learners to adapt early to career life.
The only time the students of regular degree programs interacted with the industry professionals was during campus recruitment. If it were a reputed university, you would be lucky to participate in a seminar or a discussion forum and interact with Industry panelists. This created a massive gap between the students and the industries, sometimes wholly isolating them, which further stunted their confidence when they started their careers.
Some reputed Universities and Ed-Tech companies design their online Programs in collaboration with industry experts and hiring managers, which is the right thing to do in my opinion because they are the best people to identify the growth and demand for new technologies.
The learners in an online program are also provided with opportunities throughout and after the program to regularly interact with Industry experts through webinars and Q&A sessions to gain valuable insight into the industry domain before they even begin their careers.
Studying in a reputed University is every ambitious learner's dream. Given an opportunity and if conditions are favorable, every learner aspires to attend an offshore University and receive broad exposure, technically or career-wise. However, there are challenges to this; higher accommodation costs, traveling, and isolation from home are a few to name.
Online learning is the perfect learning choice for such students to achieve their dreams and have a successful career no matter which part of the world they came from.
If you ask me whether online learning has eradicated the skill gap, well, the answer is no. But the efforts are on, by top universities and educational institutions worldwide, to tackle the challenges in regular classroom learning and promote technology-enabled learning among seekers of knowledge.