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Can Online Education Create Holistic Learning?

Holistic learning refers to a relatively new approach towards education wherein the educator endeavors to fulfil not just the academic needs of the learner, but also his/her physical, social, creative, emotional, moral, psychological, and spiritual needs. It is based on the philosophy that learners are able to discover their identity and a sense of purpose through connections with the local community, the natural world, and inculcate universal human values such as empathy, inclusivity, integrity, and respect.

Though the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown has catapulted online learning into the mainstream, there is a widely prevalent skepticism around its reported efficacy and advantages among teachers, parents, and students. While online classes across the world have been academically filling in for the conventional classroom experience, the verdict is still divided on whether online platforms can provide holistic learning. Here’s everything you need to know on the subject:

Online Education Holds Promise

There are various aspects to online learning that potentially instill holistic knowledge. In an online class, students cutting across lines of class, religion, caste, race, and ethnicity interact, communicate, and collaborate, promoting intercultural understanding and a sense of belonging for learners from marginalized backgrounds. What’s more, digital technology can be used to customize content to meet young learners’ individual and social needs. Texts, infographics, podcasts, and videos could play a crucial role in this regard. Since online classes – especially for school children – take place at home, teachers could use the opportunity to bridge the gap between home and school by involving parents and guardians more deeply. Forging a relationship between the classroom and students’ families can make students appreciate one another’s cultural heritage and strengthen student-teacher bonds.

Challenges Galore

Unfortunately, online education is marred by several challenges, particularly in India. One of them is the lack of equitable access to a laptop or smartphone and strong internet connectivity in peri-urban and rural areas. Secondly, not all students may be at ease with learning online. Given that it is a relatively new medium, a lot of students may not be digitally literate or equipped with the requisite virtual communication skills. Last but not the least, distractions that are naturally a part of the home environment are a perpetual hindrance to effective classroom learning and retention. 

While the aforementioned problems do not hinder the dissemination of holistic knowledge per se, they must be overcome in order to make online education viable and widely acceptable. Only then can it evolve enough to assimilate holistic aspects of learning. 

The Future Looks Bright 

By democratizing quality education by providing affordable online classes and coaching for IIT JEE, CAT, and NEET exam, educational technology platforms like Unacademy are revolutionizing the education sector in India today.  Indeed, such initiatives have proved that online learning is as good as traditional learning from an academic point of view. Hearteningly, as online education continues fine-tuning itself to meet the ever-shifting needs of students across the world, the incorporation of holistic elements will inevitably follow.

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