E-Learning in the era of COVID-19 pandemic

Dr Vishal Sharma
Education is essential for advancing societies as it provides every person the opportunity to build a better life thereby turning learners into teachers/doctors/ engineers, laborers into skilled workers, social workers into leaders and children into responsible citizens.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced our School, Colleges, Universities, Research Institutes to lock down. In the wake of the emergency, educational institutions around the world are shifting to online teaching-learning mode due to this unique and unprecedent scenario. Shifting to online education is another way to fight against this deadly outbreak. Digital or E-learning gets its moment day by day due to Covid-19 pandemic. Digital learning goes mainstream in a hurry and that’s going to upend conventional education practices and models.
Digital learning is now an integral part of studies for students to keep them academically active. It is also an excellent opportunity for educators and avid learners, who are otherwise busy in their day to day schedule, to enhance their skills, learning new subjects, get exposure to the new opportunities/vibrant international atmosphere and that too from your home place. Expanding educational opportunities is more possible now than it has ever been before. Through the Internet, learners can find information instantly on virtually any topic, teachers can share their knowledge with students almost as easily as in their own classroom, and educational materials can be disseminated to a worldwide audience at virtually no marginal cost. In this article, I am going to share some of the interesting and interactive online platforms which is virtually for everyone (age 5 onwards) whosoever has the impetus to acquire new knowledge and education.
For Teachers: Teachers who wants to provide online classes through work-from-home mode, video conferencing platforms such as Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Teams, Zoom and WebEx are very beneficial tools. Besides this, digital learning management systems like Moodle, Schoology, Instructure’s Canvas, Blackboard, Illuminate Education, Explain Everything Whiteboard, and Google Classroom can also be used. In addition, there are enabling software such as Proctorio, a Google Chrome extension that monitors students taking exams online.
For Kids/Students/Parents/Teachers: Further, there are huge variety of online learning resources available which provide an excellent opportunity to learn remotely and that too at a very nominal cost.
Age of Learning (www.ageoflearning.com): This is a blended education mode covering a wide variety of subjects for students aged 2-8 years.
Adventure Academy (www.adventureacademy.com): Students up to age 13 play games to learn across a range of topics (math, reading, social studies, science, and more), while also creating their own online persona and interacting with others in the game.
Aperture Education (www.apertureed.com): Aperture Education is providing free Social and Emotional Learning Growth Strategies for educators and parents.
Boddle Learning (www.boddlelearning.com): Boddle is a math platform for 1-6th grade that makes math learning fun. Teachers and parents can also track student progress remotely.
Bookshare (www.bookshare.org): Bookshare is a free library of 800,000+ accessible ebooks for students with reading barriers such as dyslexia, blindness, and cerebral palsy.
Code (www.code.org): It provides free computer science lessons and games to help students learn how to code at an earlier age supported by top tech company like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and many more.
ChemMatters Online (www.acs.org): Excellent resource for middle and high school science teachers and students on various chemistry topics.
Coursera (www.coursera.org): Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer online courses available in almost all subjects.
Discovery Education (www.discoveryeducation.com): Discovery Education provides online textbooks, multimedia content, and professional development support for virtual classrooms and teachers.
Exploratorium (www.exploratorium.edu): Help the students go far into the galaxy or deep down to the bottom of the ocean.
Future learn (www.futurelearn.com): Offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world.
Google Arts & Culture (www.artsandculture.google.com): Google has teamed up with over 500 museums and galleries around the world to bring everyone virtual tours and online exhibits.
GIS Tutorial for atmospheric sciences (www.gis.ucar.edu): This platform provides a course on Geographic information systems (GIS) that can be used to visualise data from databases, allowing easier interpretation of data.
Harvard Remote Science Labs (www.labxchange.org): Harvard’s LabXchange has suite of lab simulations with assessments and guidance that focus on basic molecular biology techniques.
Kapwing (www.kapwing.com): A collaborative online image and video editor with a cloud storage Workspace. Teachers can make video lessons to send to students for remote learning.
Lab Exchange (www.labxchange.org): A free platform where students and teachers can discover, create, and remix content to build their own learning journey.
Memrise (www.memrise.com): Memrise is a powerful tool for studying a language and its speciality is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.
MetEd (www.meted.ucar.edu): MetEd is a free online collection of teaching and training resources for the geoscience community.
MIT Open Course ware (ww.ocw.mit.edu): MIT-one of the world’s top University offers a wide range of open courses on a wide range of topics.
Open edX (www. open.edx.org): Open edX offers free online courses and lectures on a range of topics and scientific fields by top universities of the world.
Stanford Online (www.online.stanford.edu): This offers learners a single point access to Stanford’s extended education and lifelong learning opportunities both on campus and around the world.
Study (www.study.com): This offers a wide range of online courses all subjects including social sciences.
Seneca (www.senecalearning.com): Using neuroscience and AI to help students learn 2x faster.
Tyto Online (www.tytoonline.com): Students solve authentic science problems as they learn, using a video game to power their experience.
Udacity (www.udacity.com): Udacity is a for-profit education organization offering many open online courses and provides free access to these courses with the aim of advancing student’s education and careers.
University of the People (www.uopeople.edu): University of the People is the first non-profit, tuition-free, American accredited online university dedicated to opening access to higher education globally.
India’s Initiatives:
CEC-UGC YouTube channel (www.kids.youtube.com): This provides access to unlimited educational curriculum based lectures absolutely free.
e-PG Pathshala (www.epgp.inflibnet.ac.in): It hosts high quality, curriculum-based, interactive e-content in various disciplines of social sciences, arts, fine arts and humanities, natural & mathematical sciences.
FOSSEE (Free/Libre and Open Source Software for Education) (www.fossee.in):
This project promotes the use of FLOSS tools (open software) in academia and research.
NPTEL for Engineering (www.nptel.ac.in): The NPTEL was initiated by seven IITs along with IISc Bangalore and offer various courses in five core engineering disciplines.
SWAYAM (www.swayam.gov.in): Provides free access to various teaching-learning resources.
Virtual Labs for science (IITB) (www.vlabs.iitb.ac.in):Virtual Labs provide to the students the result of an experiment by two methods-first by online simulations and second by remotely triggering an experiment in an actual lab and providing the student the result of the experiment through the computer interface.
At the end there is one takeaway message “Don’t let coronavirus pandemic disrupted your life”. My sincere suggestion is to stay at home, take preventive measures, maintain social distancing and utilise this time productively by engaging yourself and your love ones in digital learning.
(The author is Fulbright Climate Fellow (USA) Commonwealth Fellow (UK) Visiting Academician, University of Sheffield, UK)