The world is becoming faster, quicker and more informative with the help of the Internet. The Internet has seen full-fledged development in the recent years in Nepal too and this rapid growth in the number of Internet users has led to a rapid increment in digital services. The interesting question that now arises is whether the Internet has been able to touch upon the educational sector of Nepal too and to what extent has e-learning developed?
The Internet penetration rate of Nepal according to statistics of 2074 is 63% and the literacy rate of our country is 66%. (Koirala, 2018) This is an interesting fact to look at and we have analyzed how the Internet has touched upon the education of Nepal in a more detailed fashion.
E-learning – A cost-efficient medium in the long run:
In the case of our country, we usually have that stigma that technology would cost us a fortune. In the case of the educational sector, the situation is quite different in the sense that e-learning which might seem to be an expensive medium of learning can actually be cost effective for both an educational institution and the student in the long run.
Mr Shesha Kanta Pangeni, Assistant Professor at Kathmandu University School of Education, stated “E-Learning is actually a cost-efficient medium for both our teacher and student communities. The service providers don’t require huge physical infrastructures and buildings when they use e-learning platforms. Giving the tutoring community an effective medium to connect to the internet and take classes is enough. Likewise, for students too, they don’t have to bear travel costs of going to and fro college. Also, e-learning decreases the opportunity costs for students thus helping them balance their studies and earning opportunities together. This ultimately reduces the long-term costs a student would have to bear otherwise.”
Also, e-learning services give the students a flexibility to access digital educational materials rather than using the physical books, notebooks etc. which tend to acquire a lot of costs. Thus, if all such costs are considered along with opportunity cost, e-learning results in both saving of time and money for both students and tutors.
Live classes can be as interactive and efficient as physical classes:
When it comes to e-learning, many people have a false belief that e-Learning cannot be as effective and interactive as physical learning. However, Nepal Open University has managed to bust this myth.
In this context, Mr. Padam Raj Pant, e-Learning expert from Nepal Open University stated, “We have course structure which is very interactive even in the e-Learning platform that we provide. In fact, we have things like case studies too that happens in our live classes itself. Live classes are scheduled in the evening time, and with a time commitment of our students every evening for two to three hours, they are able to educate themselves as efficiently as physical college going students. The total log of students’ activities is aggregated in an e-portfolio, and all the instructional activities are well managed in LMS.”
Our cultural value has inhibited the full-fledged development of e-learning:
Internet penetration has increased in the country and awareness and knowledge about the use of technological devices is now increasing in people. Yet, e-learning is mostly being used as a blended method in teaching pedagogy alongside physical educational services rather than e-learning having its own unique identity in Nepal. For instance, educational institutions like Learning Realm International School are collaborating with online portals like EDMODO and KAHOOT along with providing physical interactive classes to make their teaching pedagogy more efficient.
As Mr. Sharad Neupane, IT Officer at Kathmandu University School of Management mentioned “The reason why the growth of e-learning in Nepal has been slow is also that of our cultural value and belief system. If the e-learning procedure is to be developed full-fledged, it would lack human connection and empathy as the community of learners and tutors would be contacting through technological devices. In the current situation where soft skills are valued more than hard skills, e-learning lacks the ability to deliver soft skills in students, so currently, most institution considers e-learning only as an additional feature in teaching pedagogy.”
The mobile application services provided by Nepalese schools have very low user rates:
Keeping in mind that, the internet has managed to touch upon almost every sector, today Nepalese schools like Learning Realm International School (LRI) have managed to introduce mobile applications which would notify a child’s parents about the development of their child in the educational realm.
Despite providing such efficient applications which could keep the parents updated, the user rates of such applications are very low. The interesting fact, however, there is that the same parent who would spend so much of time on social media sites like Facebook wouldn’t bother to make good use of the mobile application provided for the care of his child.
Mr. Sameer Bomdzon Tamang, Deputy Principal of Learning Realm International School explained “The reason why mobile application provided by schools have not been able to attract good audience can be associated to the fact that these applications don’t have an attractive user interface as other social media sites do. They are more academically oriented and these things fail to interest many people. However, as the technology-oriented companies are now working towards making the user interface more lucrative, hopefully, the user rate of our mobile applications can increase.”
E-learning hasn’t been able to touch community schools of Nepal:
For e-learning to become a part of course curriculum, it is imperative that the teachers are tech-savvy too. Thus, for educational institutions to launch e-learning facilities, they have to train their tutoring community about the use of technological devices if they don’t already know about it.
Mr. Adhip Poudyal, Founder and Executive Director of KULLABS.COM justified, “In case of Nepal, the major problem that incurs is in case of community schools. In most of the community schools, teachers are not efficient enough themselves to make use of technological devices to facilitate and use e-learning services. To add insult to injury, the teachers are not motivated enough to learn about the usage of such services even when training is provided. However, in case of private schools, once the school makes an investment in e-learning facilities, it trains and motivates its tutoring community to make use of such facilities so that their investment doesn’t go in waste and hence e-learning is usually seen developing heaps and bounds in private educational institutions of Nepal whereas government institutions still lack behind.”
Hence, if we look at the development of e-learning facilities here in Nepal, it is growing at a slow yet steady pace and few years down the lane with a similar kind of growth rate, it wouldn’t be shocking to discover e-learning platforms covering the full market share here in Nepal.
By: Mahima Poddar