Why it is important to localise online learning amid Covid-19 – Times of India

With the outbreak of Covid-19, the transition from offline to online classes have become a new normal. Despite re-opening of schools in phased manner from September 21, the online teaching-learning will continue to be part of the education system. WhatsApp, Zoom call and other social media platforms have become an effective way to establish communication between teachers and students. However, the new learning system is not equally accessible to everyone. Some students have internet issues, where as accessibility to the device and unavailability or shortage of content in vernacular languages are other problems.

English is yet to become the common language of the majority of internet users, so it calls for a greater need to make educational content available in native languages.

“Earlier, schools were in dilemma to have or not have an extensive presence on digital education platforms. But the ongoing pandemic has made them realise that online learning will remain standard practice for a long time,” says Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO, Next Education India Pvt Ltd.

Running physical schools seamlessly, says Ralhan, is probably not going to happen for some time. Acknowledging the challenges of online learning in English, content is being made available in regional languages such as Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi for the convenience of students and teachers,” he adds.

“Content is delivered in regional languages including Hindi to make students comfortable with the new environment. Initially, we used 80% content in regional languages and 20% in English to cater to students from semi-urban areas or those who are not comfortable with English,” says Girish Singhania, founder and CEO, EduBridge Learning Pvt Ltd. He adds that it is aimed to ensure better learning among candidates.

Singhania further explains that they gradually increase the use of English while offering online programmes to help students strengthen their language and communication skills. EduBridge has been offering job-oriented courses online.

Importance of localised e-learning

To cater to people of different segments and socio-economic strata, says Singhania, it is important to localise e-learning. Although, he emphasises on the importance of learning English language to be more employable.

“It is important to add local language and flavor while offering online education to generate and retain and interest among students, especially from smaller towns and cities,”Singhania adds.

The localisation of the content delivery also depends on the type of course, objective and the target audience. It is believed that the use of native language might be able to attract a larger number of students from smaller towns and cities towards various digital learning platforms.

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