The increasing popularity and apparent benefits of digitization have forced all sectors to invest in this domain. Recent government initiatives like Digital India have steered significant efforts of embracing digital means for efficient functioning of key sectors. While traditional forms of teaching work in a generic manner, technology-enabled solutions allow customization of traditional approaches to suit individual student needs. When it comes to digitization, there are primarily three trends that are ruling the roost .
Firstly, content is largely going digital with a rapidly increasing sales of digital textbooks. Secondly, the transformation of content into its digital counterpart allows its access and distribution to become global without the need for added logistics or infrastructure. Lastly, the most impactful benefit of digital education is customized learning. As a result, the teacher can act as a guide and he or she can provide additional assistance to students on need basis. The growing use of technologies like learning management systems, open content, cloud computing, mobile learning and data analytics are being adopted to assist digital education and take it to newer heights.
Digital Education – A Step Up for Traditional Education
Traditional methods that involve the use of blackboard and chalk, with most of the approach centered around teacher, are no longer used. This approach has largely been replaced with powerpoint presentations, practical demonstrations, online training and other similar digital platforms, with major fcus on interactive learning.
Some of the infrastructural benefits of digital education include cost-effectiveness and efficient content delivery. Moreover, the teacher can spend more time explaining concepts in comparison to traditional approach where most of the time is spent in delivering content. It also addresses some of basic flaws in traditional teaching, which include lack of interactivity and promotion of bad practices like memorization.
Key Benefits and Drawbacks of Digital Education
The use of digital methods allows teachers to add attention-grabbing content to the presentation of a lecture. Therefore, students find it easier to concentrate and grasp the subject. This makes digital methods-based education more interactive and effective. Content-wise, such a delivery method is comprehensive in the sense that details can be included and emphasized upon by the teacher, on need basis, without depending upon the teacher’s memorization or graphics skills.
The use of laptops and tabs makes task completion easier and quicker. Time spent looking on online screen has a significant impact on the language skill development of a child. Moreover, the pressure of learning with the class is removed in such an environment. So, the student can learn within his or her capacity and at his or her own pace.
The ability to access material at any place or time adds convenience to the list of advantages of digital education. Lastly, the digital platform takes learning beyond the realms of a classroom. A major upgrade that digital education provides over its counterpart is the fact that it allows you to contact and take guidance from faculty, from around the world.
Where there are innumerable advantages, digital education also has its own set of downsides. The most evident of these drawbacks is the need for infrastructure, which makes this environment expensive to set up. Besides this, the flexibility of timings and content makes this approach lazy for students. They no longer are expected to abide by fixed schedules and they can simply search for answers online, which can hamper the growth of a child’s creative and problem-solving skills.
Looking at the Indian Scenario
At the time of independence, India had a literacy rate of 12%, which had increased to 74% in 2011 . Although, this seems like a astounding rise, India still falls behind the world average of 84%  by a huge margin. The enrollment rates at the higher education level has also improved dramatically , but the quality of education remains a matter of great concern. The lack of infrastructure, skewed teacher-student ratio and high student dropout rates are some of the major issues that plague Indian education.
The recent past has witnessed good money inflow and intervention of corporate giants like Reliance and Tata, in the Indian education sector. However, in order to build innovative and commercially viable products in this sector, all the stakeholders like content experts, teaching community, technology firms and the Government need to join hands. With the Internet-reach figure rising to 550 million in 2018 , digital education seems to have a promising future.
However, the pathway is not short of challenges and limitations. Infrastructure and literacy are the two main hurdles in the path of digital education in India. The operational bandwidth available in most remote areas is too low to support an online learning platform. It was because of this that Government initiatives like e-chaupals did not receive the attention they deserved. However, the Government plan to connect 5 lac villages via WiFi as part of the National Optical Fiber Network by 2017  has been a signiicant step to improve the scenario.
Considering the fact that a majority of India does not speak English as their first language, development of language-independent platforms can be hugely beneficial in the Indian setup. Besides this, schemes to make Internet more accessible, available and affordable can increase the popularity of such initiatives. Finally, it is important to initiate campaigns, awareness sessions and workshops to teach all the stakeholders about the different aspects of digital education to make it a success in India.
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