Is online education and work from home here to stay?

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The outbreak of COVID-19 has created a global health crisis that profoundly impacted the way we perceive our world and our everyday lives. The preventive measures that are set up to contain the spread of the disease require social distancing. As a result, lockdown is being observed in many parts of the world, including India. There are over 1.2 billion students in 186 countries suffering from school and college closures due to the pandemic. Consequently, education and work culture have changed dramatically, with the notable rise of e-learning and work-from-home.

To keep involved, people are turning to software and apps such as zoom, skype, google meet, Facetime, etc. The increase in remote work platforms has led to around 775% bump in the usage of such telepresence services.

Apart from the very fact that digital learning and work-from-home are significant in these trying times, they also have some noteworthy advantages.

Many students in our country don't get an opportunity to learn what they actually want to. Online education permits the students to broaden their scope of learning and that too, with flexibility.

With the advent of the family-style where parents are at work, the parent-child relationship has conjointly faced a negative impact. Working from home provides a privilege of freedom. People can organize their work around their home life as they can stop or start work as they please, and thus if they have children, they can easily manage their online education. They can effectively monitor their child's progress. They can also take up any other chores that they need to do during the day and then finish work later. Overall, people can have more control over their lives.

As for teachers, it means that they can teach from the comfort of their homes or anywhere. It allows teachers to broaden their domain by the access of contemporary teaching tools.

Unlike traditional education, online education proves to be cost-effective. A vast number of payment options allow students to pay in installments or at discounted prices.

Urbanization has led to congestion in traffic, which is quite a problem concerning productivity and employee's health, in particular. A report by MoveInSync says that Indians spend more time in daily office commute than people in most countries, with more than 2 hours on the road every day. Long commuting time results in stress, which reduces productivity at work. Vehicles require fossil fuels, which are already deficit and release vast amounts of pollution. Thus, remote work and telecommuting are a feasible way to combat traffic and pollution emissions.

One may point out that remote discussions lack face-to-face interaction, but we are in a world where virtual reality is the future technology. VR can connect us to our institutions and workplaces, with the experience of meeting in person still intact. Lately, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the 'Pradhan Mantri e-VIDYA' initiative for digital education, which may include online teaching, TV channels, radio, and podcasts. There will be a TV channel each for classes 1 to 12. The program can facilitate to bridge the gap between those who have web facilities and those who don't.

Before we can adequately start online education and work-from-home, there are some issues to be addressed. Digital technologies like mobile, cloud, AI, etc. can be expanded as required, yet we also know that much more needs to be done. On the hardware facet, processors, bandwidth capacity, storage, and digital inequalities need addressing.

Drastic changes happen in society when unexpected events force them. There are many indications that online education and work-from-home are here to stay. Four years back, our country faced quite a chaotic situation during a significant step taken by the present government-demonetization. A good thing that followed the event was that digital payments witnessed enormous growth. Perhaps this pandemic can similarly bring out something revolutionary for online education and work-from-home.

"The storm you face is your teacher. The experience you gain is your lesson. The life you make from it all is your blessing. Always remember, the teacher teaches a lesson that becomes a blessing. Embrace the storm and watch your life change as you utilize the lesson. Your better days lie ahead... hold on!"

― Kemi Sogunle

-Avantika Verma

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