We’ve definitely come a long way now, with the pandemic forcing us to shut down public places, offices, major national organizations and institutions, and most important of all – educational institutions. Initially, the lockdown had left us totally clueless as all the conventional modes of imparting education had come to a screeching halt. It was an emergent and unprecedented situation, and major educators in the world had started looking for ‘smart’ methods to continue the cycle of research and innovation through learning. Soon enough, people came up with novel solutions to lessen the wide gap the pandemic had wrought upon. We were given alternatives to classroom teaching with virtual learning tools.

And that’s how we diversified into the online space. Beginning with conducting online classes and assessment as a temporary fix to keep the string of learning going, we are now highly considering online learning as one of the major methods as the future of education. Online teaching and learning have introduced major changes in our learning pattern and medium, from making use of presentations, simulation and graphic designing to enhance the students’ understanding of concepts to audio-visual interactions, online assessment techniques and advanced technology to aid teaching. The virtual mode of education has opened up new avenues for self-paced learning methods. The major advantage of self-paced learning is one can learn anywhere, anytime and with basic resources (a computer/smartphone, broadband connection and of course, a curious mind!) Plus, the learner can access the teaching tools at a click’s comfort and at a pace which he/she feels comfortable. all this included, one can access forums and discussions to clear doubts and connect with other learners in any corner of the world to brainstorm over ideas and solutions. Today, learning has become dynamic and is paving the way for better ways of optimization and development. Assessment methods have also become hassle-free with virtual tools with online forms, but the major drawback for this is malpractice which takes place off the invigilator’s reach of the screen. Efforts are being taken to bring this under effective control, with the help of softwares and apps which track eyeball movements, check for other malicious apps open on the student’s computer and other possible options. But this hasn’t been controlled so efficiently yet so as to completely believe in the online assessment system, and the search for effective solutions is on the go. Nevertheless, on the brighter side, education hasn’t completely come to a standstill as it would have if technological advancements wouldn’t have come to the rescue. Bigwigs in the online education space who were gaining popularity slowly before the pandemic situation benefitted with an upper hand and are now frontrunners in capturing the virtual education space. These companies, which primarily focused on capturing the attention of the child towards learning concepts in a fun way and helping the slow-paced learner pick up better with interesting teaching methods, have now dived deeper into the arena and shifted to quite a bigger space, as online education became the best viable solution to make up for physical classes. E-communication platforms which were earlier corporate-centric and better suited to long distance communication quickly altered themselves to cater the needs of the booming education sector, with focus on class meetings, presentation options and discussion platforms. All these developments are changing presumed conceptions about online learning and the face of modern education.

Some of the major hurdles to acquire effective and efficient online education currently are conducting practicals online. We do not seem to be well-equipped to go fully online and conduct laboratory and workshop sessions with the available technology and tools. Tech leaders are investing a great amount of time, money and effort to come up with satisfactory solutions to tackle this problem, which makes a big difference in higher technical education.

Virtual education has made a huge impact on our daily lives owing to technology amidst a wildly raging pandemic, and is proving to be a helpful technological aid to continue learning without time, place and barriers. The coming years will witness astounding changes and progress in educational methods.

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