Logging in to learn

Online education

Logging in to learn

A photo album on Facebook, with 16,16,572 shares, explains the world’s economy using just two cows. One photo describes fascism as ‘when you have two cows, the State takes both and sells you some milk’ and another, the American corporation as having two cows, and ‘you sell one and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has died’. Not only does this tickle your sense of humour but it also uses a simple analogy to explain theory-heavy topics.

There are many such posts, websites and education apps that use different techniques and narratives to make teaching and learning a more interactive and fun experience. This is why many people in the City are turning to social networking sites and the internet space to supplement their knowledge on various issues. In addition to traditional forms of education, which is the base, online forums act as alternative sources to replenish the mind.

Anindhita R, who works with a publishing house, uses ‘Duolingo’ to learn Italian. But, as she explains, “I use it only to brush up on what I had already learnt in college.” With her knowledge of the language, she hopes to visit Italy next year with a friend. “I used to go for Italian language classes in college, but now, I use language apps on my phone to keep myself updated as I don’t have time to attend regular classes. When I go to Italy next year, I hope I’ll be able to communicate in Italian,” she adds.

Not restricted to one subject, the internet gives people a chance to learn as much as they can take in. Pooja Rathee, an English language trainer, uses such platforms and groups to improve her teaching methods. Instead of textbook methods, she has a variety of tricks in her bag. “Since I teach adults, I can’t use traditional teaching methods as they expect more. I can’t be methodical. Instead, I need to bring in analytical elements to my curriculum and be interactive. The internet acts as a way to share and exchange information with people across the globe.” From Pinterest grabs to online groups, there are different ways she comes up with her worksheets and programmes.

The variety of free-flowing material available is something that appeals to everyone. “If I know a 100 teaching methods, there are a 1,000 more that I don’t know of,” says Pooja. There are memes and posts that educate people on everything, from grammar usage to scientific concepts.

Many parents are also using the internet to supplement their child’s education. Vinita Kaul and Satya Mitra prefer downloading worksheets for their two sons Agastya and Vihaan, instead of sending them to extra-curricular classes and summer camps. “We give them the freedom to learn at a pace they like. These days, children attend so many classes, along with school, that they have no time for anything else. It’s a routine. We’d rather they learn something they want and not what we want,” says Vinita. As both the kids like drawing, she picks up drawing worksheets from the internet for them. She also suggests sites like ‘Khan Academy’, which provide a detailed curriculum on many subjects.
It’s not just parents who use the internet — Gomti Sampat explains that the teachers at her kids’ school ask the children to refer to certain sites for reference.

While this bombards children with a lot of information and opinions, parents say that this is needed in the increasingly competitive world. Gomti also mentions that it’s better for her children, Ruchi and Ishita, to know what’s happening around them than sticking to a textbook. “And we monitor what the kids are doing online. There is a given time they get to use the internet and we make sure it’s for educational purposes,” she adds.

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