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India, just as several other developed and developing nations, has been promoting digital literacy and ICT-based education for the last few years. HPPI’s Digital Classroom Project being implemented in Chhattisgarh aims to create a technology-enabled learning environment where a student’s learning of concepts and interaction with the teacher is supported through the strategic use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). However, with the nation in lockdown and schools and universities closing down as a response to the COVID19 pandemic, digital education has seen a sudden upsurge in India.

Since March 2020, several schools and colleges are continuing giving lessons via Google Classroom, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other such platforms. Several schools located in remote or rural areas with limited availability of electricity and internet are using WhatsApp to stay connected with their classrooms. With this new way of teaching and learning, digital education is becoming more relevant in the present times.

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Students and teachers now have groups where they exchange notes, queries and finish tasks. In HPPI’s Necessary Teacher Training Programme, 2 online classes of 1½ hours each are being conducted every day for the 1st and 2nd-year students so that they are able to continue learning and finish their D.El.Ed. course in time. The teachers send study tasks to each batch and provide feedback to the 85-90 students who attend these classes everyday through various messaging and video conferencing apps. The student-teachers are completing their training through this e-learning course with full guidance from all 13 faculty members. However, access to requisite hardware remains a challenge. As many as 64 NeTT student-teachers could not participate in these classes due to the lack of computers, smartphones or the internet.

The issue not only limited to rural areas. Recently, it was reported that around 9,000 Class XII students registered for the Delhi government’s online classes, though there are 1.6 lakh children in its schools.

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As beneficial as digital education is, there is also a prominent digital divide between the urban and rural students in terms of devices, access to the internet and even availability of electricity. Only 36% of the Indian population has access to the internet, according to the India Internet 2019 report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and Nielsen. However, the access is not uniform with 27 percent in rural areas and 51 percent in urban areas getting access to the internet, according to the same report.

Students across the world are today using educational apps more than ever before. Teachers are promoting the use of educational technology including online learning, texting and group learning to support access to learning during this global pandemic. But, as the world is swiftly shifting to online teaching, students without access to broadband are the ones who could be left behind.

In an effort to promote the use of digital education, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has shared various free e-learning platforms that students can use to continue their learning during COVID-19 based school closures. Some of the platforms, such as DIKSHA, are also available for use offline, while apps like e-Pathshala by NCERT offers content material for classes 1 to 12 in multiple languages including Hindi, Urdu, and English.

About HPPI

Humana People to People India is a development organization registered as a not-for-profit company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 as of 21st May 1998. It is a non-political, non-religious organization. Its mission is to unite with people in India in order to create development in the broadest sense through the implementation of the projects that aim at transferring knowledge, skills and capacity to individuals and communities who need assistance to come out of poverty and other dehumanizing conditions.

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