Are online coaching portals effective?

By Madhushree Sarkar

With the onset of an incessant lockdown for students, the institutions are now compelled to conduct online classes via different platforms, preferably free, like zoom, google meet and go to meeting. Online classes have thus become a regular feature of every household. These extraordinary times have therefore led to contemplation on whether online education is effective or not. Until now, online coaching portals like BYJUs (world’s biggest EdTech firm), Udemy, Unacademy, and Toppr had been serving as additional after-school tuition. These portals had been thriving due to the digital revolution in India but the lockdown has increased their traffic manifold. The rankings and valuation of erstwhile unknown portals have improved just after the announcement of the lockdown. Websites like Edx and Coursera have also seen a rise in the number of signups since the coronavirus outbreak. Consequently, a lot of EdTech service providers had made their services free of cost for a limited period since the lockdown in the hopes of capturing the market. The math is if 5000 people sign up close to 500 might continue with the paid services and this number increases over time. 

The continued lockdown for schools and colleges necessitates the need for a strong virtual learning platform which can become a suitable substitute for traditional learning. Previous researches have shown that online classes prove to be more effective for older kids than for younger kids. The online courses that are provided on the internet are budget-friendly and cost less than the traditional courses. The time investment for online courses is also less for students. A recent Harvard based research said, “the amount learned in an online course is somewhat greater than in the traditional lectures.” The online courses that are provided on Edx and Coursera assess the students regularly after a module is completed. The regular assessments result in increased concentration and retention by the students. After looking at all of this we can safely determine that online courses are effective, but can they replace schools. No. This is because schools and colleges provide the recreation that no online platform can ever provide. The students develop social skills when they interact directly with peers and teachers. They also develop curiosity and creative thinking. These skills are priceless and more important than any subject matter in the real world. The ultimate destination of the job market requires these skills highly. So even in the most digital era, we might find the next generations attending schools for their cognitive development. 

The prolonged exposure to a digital screen from a very small age can lead to regular migraines and myopic vision. Also, certain courses like personality development and public speaking cannot be provided online. Their learning outcomes will certainly prove to be ineffective if provided online. 

The coronavirus outbreak is a blessing in disguise for EdTech firms like demonetisation was to online payments platforms but they won’t be able to exploit the situation as much because schools and online learning portals are not perfect substitutes and they will never be. The online learning portals are highly effective for learning subjects and educational institutions are disposable because of their qualitative advantages so a combination of the two can be incorporated in the new student.   

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