Students take centre stage in online education

Publication: Businessworld Education
July 24, 2021

With the growing popularity of online learning, the education sector is today witnessing a massive transformation. In India, online education has emerged as a mainstream learning mode, especially after the pandemic outbreak in 2020. The government and higher education regulator have given recognition to online education in order to improve the gross enrolment ratio (GER), which was 27.1 per cent in 2019-20, and hit the target of 50 per cent by 2035 as recommended in the latest National Education Policy (NEP). The digital push, as well as the industry demand, have also contributed to policy-level intervention in favour of online education.

Following the guidelines framed by the University Grants Commission (UGC), 43 higher education institutions (HEIs) have started offering 250+ full-time degree, diploma, and certificate courses. Students everywhere can enrol in these courses and be part of this education revolution. This article explains how online education will help students harness the benefits of convenience and versatility in their skill and career up-gradation.

Learn anywhere anytime

The foremost target of online education is improving the GER and thus, reaching out to a wider student community. The scope of higher education in developing and underdeveloped countries is limited. In India, students who belong to the lower socio-economic class and rural areas find it difficult to pursue education beyond schools as higher education is expensive and concentrated in cities. On the other hand, online education available anywhere anytime enables students from any socio-economic status and region to study at their convenience, wherever they are. Moreover, the regulator has mandated HEIs who offer online learning to not compromise on the quality of education, and equally provide resources to all, i.e., regular and online students.

Graduate from top institutions

HEIs listed in the top-100 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for two consecutive years along with a minimum 3.26 score on a four-point scale of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) are eligible to offer online degrees. By this guideline, the UGC opens a window of possibilities for students to pursue higher education from major institutions without stepping out of home or compromising on quality. Students from all backgrounds can study in such institutions, which will broadly help diminish the existing socio-economic, regional, and digital divide.

Earn while you learn

Online learning provides complete freedom to students. It doesn’t force learners to stay at a premise for a stipulated time or demand them to reach an exam hall for taking tests. In online learning, students control their study time and pace, which gives them the flexibility to attend and complete tasks at their convenience. They can even pursue studying while working full-time. Learning while working helps students apply the acquired lessons in real-time scenarios and vice versa, which would, in turn, help them remember the lessons and do well in exams. It also helps students be financially fit while taking classes.

Be industry-ready

The employability of graduates has been a point of contention for a long time. As noted above, producing industry-ready candidates is one of the key objectives of online programmes in India. A close collaboration between institutions and industry is recommended while launching online courses. Some HEIs are offering courses in association with e-learning platforms or edtech companies, while others are integrating inputs from industry leaders and industry bodies in developing curriculum and delivering the programmes. Industry connect is one of the highlights of online courses. Through webinars and guest lectures, HEIs ensure students get industry exposure while pursuing their education online. This way, students can be industry-ready upon graduating.

Gain future skills

The industry collaboration also emphasises building in-demand skills to prepare students to be industry-ready. Online courses are designed keeping that principle in mind and focus on developing in-demand and emerging skills among learners. Skills like problem-solving, analytics, collaboration, adaptability, communication, the ability for continuous learning and others are some of the future skills that are being honed. Attending online courses and enrolling on specialised courses will help students boost these skills. Even interactions with instructors, guests and peers help build such skills. Hence, students can kick start their careers confidently and remain relevant in the future workforce.

Online education is bringing students to the centre stage of learning. Guaranteeing a smooth learning journey by eliminating the compulsion on physical presence is the backbone of online programmes. The convenience and versatility of online learning become beneficial for students to succeed in their careers. When online education becomes widespread, it will increase the supply of employable candidates to the industry to meet the demand. It will ultimately help in the economic growth of the country.

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