Sunday, 28 July 2013

e-Learning in India - Growing But with Doubters

As in virtually every other country worldwide, e-learning is growing in India, with learning management systems, e-portfolios and other educational technologies appearing in more classrooms every week.

However, for a country that has some much of its economy based in technology development and services - think software outsourcing and call centres for a start - not everyone thinks that technology in the classroom is the way forward.

100,000 private schools in India invest in educational technology. Sounds a lot right? Especially as few countries have that many schools in total - public and private combined. But with 260,000 private schools across the country, the figures represents less than 40% that spend on edtech - what are the other 60% doing?

A few key reasons:

- Unsurprisingly, infrastructure plays a part. e-Learning set-up "...requires high speed internet connection, which needs to be on even if classes are not being held" says C Hota, the Associate Professor of Computer Science at BITS Pilani in Hyderabad. Even a well funded school relies on the local internet infrastructure in the local area.

- Tradition and culture also plays a part in potentially slowing demand for e-learning. Maya Sukumaran of Gitanjali School in Begumpet said "We had a few live web classes with a school in Chennai, but the parents preferred to have a real teacher-student interaction for their children. "

Perhaps for parents that have dreamed of and aspired to having their children attend school, e-learning may in part seem like outsourcing of their child's education to technology.

While e-learning may have some doubters in India, the growth in its use is still healthy. It is reported that 2012 saw a 21% increase in the use of MOOC (massive open online courses) compared to 2011, and the country's annual spend on digital learning is thought to be around $500 million.

As India looks to become a bigger player in the world economy, this use of educational technology can only help today's youth to make that happen.