Access To Education During COVID and Beyond
COVID-19 has affected our lifestyle in every front. In current times access to education solely depends on the access to the internet, as a result, not everyone can enjoy their right to education.
People with poor or no internet connection and no access to smartphones or computers are the one facing the most difficulties.
A simple solution for solving the scarcity of smartphones is self-paced classes, instead of live classes. Self-paced classes are those classes where the students can attend them at their pace.
Currently, all colleges and schools are using video conferencing tools like Skype, Zoom, BigBlueButton, etc. to conduct live classes.
Drawbacks of live classes:
- Usually, the timings of live classes match. Hence, Families with a single smart device but multiple school/college going children are affected. In such cases, many times, boys' education is given preference over the girls' education or elder sibling's education is taken more seriously.
- Power cuts and network issues are another example of hurdles faced by children while accessing online education. Self-paced classes can solve all of these issues.
Benefits of self-paced classes:
- Families with one smart device and multiple children can easily access online education.
- Easy revision.
- The recorded classes can be referred in the post COVID times too.
Self-paced classes will be in the form of recorded lectures, it has to be hosted somewhere or distributed among students. How can we do it, assuring that students who don't have proper internet connection or limited data can also easily access it?
For distributing recorded lectures, we can either use YouTube or WhatsApp groups. According to a report by Ministry of Human Resource and Development, the majority of States have started their educational YouTube channels and every single class, school, and college have their WhatsApp group.
If one does not have access to Wi-Fi network, one is stuck with mobile data. On average, mobile data is limited to 1 GB high-speed data per day.
On average, a 16 minutes long video at 480p resolution with ads consume 112 MB data, while the same video without ads consume 87.55 MB data.
Therefore, as ads consume more data, to reduce data consumption the government can ask YouTube to demonetize educational videos for few months from their platform.
But, what if YouTube declines? Then we can mirror the content and upload it on other ads free platforms, like LBRY or PeerTube.
What if we use audio lectures Instead of video lectures? Audio lectures as stories, which motivates the students to imagine. Streaming audio consumes fewer data than streaming videos.
The same 16 minutes long video, as an audio, only consumes 18.08 MB data. The real-world usage may differ, but it gives us a rough idea that on average, videos on YouTube with ads will take 2.1 hours to consume 1 GB data. Videos without ads will take 2.9 hours to consume 1 GB data. And on the other hand, audios will take 14.1 hours to consume 1 GB data.
Thanks to audio lectures, multiple children can access online education in that 1 GB data.
A study by Smile Foundation found that, about 56% of children have no access to smartphone for e-learning. For this study, 42,831 children were surveyed across 23 states in India.
And out of those 56% of children without smartphone access, 43.99% had access to a basic phone and 12.02% had no access to any phone. Access does not mean that they can use it at their convenience.
If we use audio lectures instead of video lectures, those audios can be broadcasted over radio. The majority of basic phones have an inbuilt radio receiver.
There are many State sponsored educational radio channels operating, but in remote regions.
The same study found that out of 42,831 children, only 68.99% has access to TV.
Open Culture is a website with collections of thousands of e-books, audiobooks, movies and online courses for free of cost.
Exportable Explanations is another great website where students play different games to learn new skills. Right now, there are 179 different fun activities on this website, covering all major subjects.
These websites can be used to help students study from home, at the same time after the COVID era, these can be used in schools to complement the classroom experience.
This is an example from the website 'Exportable Explanations', this is a simulation to understand how like-minded people get together over the period of time. And how a more open-minded society will like is compared with a less open-minded society.
This is another example from the same website. This simulation explains the emergence of phantom traffic jams, and how speed variations may trigger different levels of congestion.
Every game or simulation on Exportable Explanations has its dashboard from which you can change different variables which will affect the result.
With this, the child can interact with these simulations and play different games to understand important concepts and to learn new skills.
Telegram is more student friendly as compared to WhatsApp (which is being more widely used for educational purposes). Every school and college have WhatsApp groups where students share study materials and ask doubts. Telegram has some great features which can be very beneficial from the students' perspective.
Telegram allows large files to be shared, up to 2.5 GB. It can accommodate more people in one group. It is more private as one can choose to hide its phone number from others. Telegram is more accessible as it can be accessed via multiple devices.
That means there is no need to worry about loosing your important documents and study material. No need to back up your chats manually, and everything is already backed up in Telegram's cloud. Telegram also has a unique feature for making quizzes.