IIT Jodhpur explores a solution for ethical social concerns in e-learning

Since the Covid-19 outbreak and associated global lockdowns affected 1.37 billion students in 138 countries around the world, researchers at IIT Jodhpur have been exploring the concerns of the higher education sector

The Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur research team led by Dr. Venkatesha Murthy, Assistant Professor, School of Management and Entrepreneurship, IIT Jodhpur, explored the social and ethical issues associated with the online mode of learning pandemic-induced among higher education students and teachers in India.

The results of their insightful study were recently published in the Asian Journal of Business Ethics, in an article co-authored by Dr. Venkatesha Murthy of IIT Jodhpur, Dr. Sonali Bhattacharya and Dr. Shubhasheesh Bhattacharya of Symbiosis University International, Pune,

One of the many disruptive outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic has been in the area of ​​education. UNESCO reports that since the Covid-19 outbreak and associated global lockdowns in early 2020, the closure of physical education institutions has affected 1.37 billion students in 138 countries around the world and nearly 60.2 million teachers and university professors. did not teach from their place of work. Online classrooms have been the mainstay of learning for nearly two years around the world, at all levels of education.

Studies on the nature and outcomes of the pandemic-induced online learning process are not trivial due to the complicated interplay of a variety of factors. In India, online education outcomes are complicated due to factors such as a large number of learners (over 30 million), poor internet connectivity in many places, and non-availability of learning spaces. private home learning for many learners.

To approach this complex subject, the research team used a qualitative analysis approach with a thematic framework to collect data on online learning and to understand the socio-psychological and ethical challenges of the online learning process. . The team’s findings are key to understanding where the problems lie, which helps plan better approaches in the future, in the event of such emergencies.

An interesting observation made by the team was that while e-learning allows for the incorporation of useful features such as audio-visual inputs, debates and role-playing, the ethical dilemma lay in enforcing mandatory participation in class. The live camera feed was often viewed as an intrusion into the learner’s private space, causing discomfort to the learner, family members, and other virtual classroom participants. Similarly, the privacy of educators was also a sensitive issue, as many teachers were concerned about their videos and cartoons being released publicly in an unpleasant manner.

Another conundrum was the present-but-absent nature of the online classroom that was associated with long hours of screen time and the absence of the teacher ‘in the flesh’. Yet another ethical issue was the higher incidence and opportunity for cheating on assessments and exams than is possible in regular classrooms. The only way to overcome this problem is to base ratings on apps.

While general observations point to extremely complex maneuvers in online learning, variation in certain disciplines might be noticed. For example, business school learners reported an increased opportunity to interact with leading industrialists through virtual mode, which might not have been possible in regular classrooms. In science fields, however, educators have struggled to get learners to understand certain subjects like anatomy. Although science experiments could be broadcast live, the lack of hands-on experimental experience was a serious drawback for science.

Understanding this research underscores the need for educational institutions and faculty to acquire technological know-how to enable a seamless transition from face-to-face to online learning, should the need arise. feel in the future. The study findings also reiterated the need for an empathic relationship between learners and educators.

To overcome the disadvantages identified in the old mode of online education, the researchers recommend that learners can take autonomous and self-directed online courses in the form of massive open online courses (MOOCs) or asynchronous videos created by the faculty. Field visits and self-learning through collaboration can also be encouraged for hybrid approaches.

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