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Did you realized that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered new ways in our life style; our daily schedule, our food habit, our social relations, our health, and many more things affected. It triggered new way of learning and study also. Now every student is looking towards online learning platforms to continue and I think this system will now continue in future also. Our education system is changing slowly and students are adopting this system and I think they are pretty comfortable in this system and want to continue in this pattern. Although digital learning has emerged as a necessary resource for students and schools all over the world but there is nothing in this world that do not have pros and cons.

Here are some disadvantages of online/distance learning:

Inability to Focus on Screens: - It is not a small disadvantage; it’s a biggest challenge as most of the students are struggling to focus on the screen for long period of time. And if you are not able to focus on screen, you can lose your concentration. In traditional classes, teachers are there and they know how to keep you engage in class so that each and every student can learn with concentration. Face-to-face interactions are very important in our life as it build your confidence and boost your energy.

Requires Self-Discipline and Time Management Skills: - Online/distance learning requires the self-discipline and time management skills to complete your studies otherwise no one can complete their study. You have to give priority to your online learning. Online learning involves less guidance from an instructor than traditional learning so you need to be self discipline in your study and need to keep aside other activity.

Online Learning May Create a Sense of Isolation: - In an online classes, there are minimal physical interactions and communication between students and teachers. Studying alone with only the computer can be terrifying. This often results in a sense of isolation for the students and isolation comes with depression and anxiety. Social interaction is very important for human being that can help you feel better connected if the sense of community you seek is missing.

Focus on Theory Rather Than Practice: - An online/distance learning is more focus on theory rather than practical. An online learning cannot replace the knowledge that comes through hands-on experience. Theoretical knowledge refers to facts, theories, and reasoning whereas practical knowledge is based on hands-on endeavours and tasks. After doing practical by his hands, student feels confident because we always remember practical’s as compare to theory.

No Face to Face Communication: - Personally, I am missing traditional classroom; chatting with friends, raising hands, group discussions, lunch boxes, sports, assembly, punishments, friends, etc. An online/distance learning diminished social interaction which affect our mindset. Nowadays, no company wants to hire an employee who is only bookworm. They want a perfect candidate who is good in all.

Technology Based Leaning: - An online learning is based on technology; computer, mobile, and internet. In online learning you need internet without interruption but it is a big challenge specially in developing countries. Without a consistent internet connection for students or teachers, there can be a lack of continuity in learning for the child. This is detrimental to the education process.
We all are living in a digital world where almost everything is digitalized and online whether it is shopping, marketing, advertising, study, relationship, etc. We have reached Mars because of the development of technology. Recently this pandemic Covid-19 has changed everything including our lifestyle and habits. This pandemic pushed us for change. Online education is one of them and here we will discuss online education in India.

India is the second-largest in population and the seventh-largest country in area around the world. It has its deep roots in history, culture, and traditions. With a population of more than 1.3 billion people, it has different religions, different casts, different languages, and different lifestyles. India is one of the fastest developing countries and for the past 10 years, this country shows a tremendous growth rate and this is because of the digital revolution. Smartphones, laptops, desktops, tab, etc. have transformed everyone and it is surprising to know that the number of smartphone users in India estimated to reach over 760 million in 2021. We can say that India has the most number of technologically driven persons.

The trend of online education and study is also moving upward. In this pandemic, a three-year baby learned to operate mobile or desktop or laptop and learning online which is a big revolution. The number of online education courses is increasing every day and the number of students is also increasing. Now almost every student prefers online learning. By seeing the potential and immense popularity of digital technology in India, the Indian government also offering lot of courses through the Digital India initiative. The initiative comprises various projects in various areas relating to health, education, labor, employment, etc. As a part of the Digital India project, many colleges and universities offer online correspondence courses. As per the recent research report, the market for online education in India of paid users is expected to grow from 1.6 million to 9.6 million by 2021.

Here are some interesting facts about online education in India.

In 2016, the online education market in India was worth $247 million and it is expected about $1.96 billion by 2021 with a growth rate of 52%.

In 2016, the number of enrolled students in various courses was 1.6 million and it is expected to reach about 9.6 million in 2021.

The online education system is very cost-effective as it is lesser up to 55% in comparison to the traditional system.

The government of India is also taking initiative to encourage online education. The YUKTI portal, SWAYAM Prabha, eBasta, and e-VIDYA are some of the online platforms initiated by the government to strengthen the infrastructure.

UG and PG level online courses are much more affordable than the traditional system. Students can save on tuition cost, accommodation cost, and travel expenses. Many credential courses are available free of cost in many portals.

A survey report says that over 70 percent of students turned to online education to learn a new skill or expanding their employment opportunities.
If you are finding a place for your next holiday, you need to search for the best place online; if you want to buy something, you will go online; if you want to search for your old friend or want to make some new friends, you will go online and even if you want to marry with someone, you will find online. This is the strength of our 21st century where almost everything is based on technology. Can you imagine your day without mobile, TV, laptop or internet? I know your answer so think about how much we are dependent on technology. A doctor can advise a patient from anywhere to anywhere; a consultant can give their consultancy from anywhere to anywhere; you can transfer money around the world within a few moments; you can buy things from anywhere in the world and you can take online education also. This is the power of technology.

The pandemic Covid-19 taught us a lot of things. First of all, this pandemic has changed our lifestyle and changed our thought process. Earlier, the internet was used mainly for e-commerce and now you can take online education from the world’s renowned and educated professors and teachers. Here we will let you know the benefits and advantages of online education.

Here are some benefits and advantages of online education:

Flexibility: - The best advantage of online education is its flexibility. It means, you can learn from anywhere, at any time; you just need a smartphone or computer with an internet connection. Now you can learn while earning and you can earn while learn without giving up your job. You can also save your traveling time as all the course materials are available online on your fingertip.

Cost-Effective: - Online education is much more cost-effective than regular traditional classes. No need to pay for costly books as digital books are cheaper; no need to pay for transportation and no need to pay house rent. Online education is best for those who cannot afford all these expenses. It means you spend less and save more.

Self-paced Learning: - Everyone has their learning method and they learn at a different pace. Many students hesitate to ask about their difficulties in traditional classes but in online education, all the course materials are available online. Students learn it by taking their own time and if they find any difficulty, they can revisit or stop the lecture and clear their doubt.

Networking: - If you enrolled in an online course, you do not know who else also attending that class with you. Online education provides a platform for you to meet your peer across nations or even different continents. It’s an opportunity for exposure.

Recognition of Online Degrees: - It is a myth that there is no recognition and value of online degrees. If your online education degree is accredited and approved by the Distance Education Council (DEC) of India, your degree is valid and all the companies will also accept it.
Over the years, people have used various terms to refer to distance education - correspondence education, independent study, distributed learning, flexible learning, and open learning. Earlier and presently also in distance learning, the student receive course materials including textbooks and other course materials through the post. Students can complete their work at their own pace, finishing the course according to their work and life schedule. Now today with the introduction of technology into distance education, newer terms are cropping up - online learning, e-learning, computer-based training (CBT), Internet-based training (IBT), or web-based training (WBT). Distance education is learning through technical media (printed material, audio material, video material, digital material) when there is a separation or distance between the teacher and the learner. The pandemic Covid-19 pushed almost everything online and this distance learning also replaced online learning which is good as it has so many advantages.

There are many advantages of online learning, such as making permanent professional contacts, a greater amount of teacher support, and a multimedia educational experience. With the advent and improvements in computer, digital, and Internet technology, the shift from the traditional classroom experience to online or distance learning only seems natural.

There are a variety of ways to structure online learning courses. The format depends on the purpose of the online course. Here we will understand how many types of online learning.

Video Conferencing: - Video conferencing is traditionally and the most common type of online learning where two or more participants use video to connect over the internet with the help of App or software. Video conferencing is the best way of one-to-one interaction between the student and the faculty. You need high-speed internet for flawless video conferencing.

Synchronous and Asynchronous Distance Education: - Synchronous means “at the same time" and Asynchronous is just the opposite that is “not at the same time”. In Synchronous Distance Education, you can communicate live with your faculty and others by online or teleconferencing and solve your queries at the same time.

In Asynchronous distance education, students are free to complete their work at their own pace. Asynchronous distance education possesses a cluster of time-bound deadlines like weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. Asynchronous distance education is best for big assignments and projects.

Open Schedule Online Courses: - Open schedule online courses fall under the asynchronous category. In this type, students are allocated with the greatest sum of freedom to complete the course. For this, the student will get online textbooks, bulletin boards, emails, and some reference study materials. Open scheduled online courses are extremely valuable for the students who love to work independently but it requires significant self-discipline, self-time management, and motivation.

Hybrid Distance Education: - Hybrid distance education is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods. It means, students are free to complete their project in some subjects and some subjects are time-bound.

Computer-Based Distance Education: - In computer-based distance education, students need to go to a classroom or computer lab at a designated time each week.

Fixed Time Online Courses: - This is the most common type of distance learning. Today every student is learning with this type. Teachers fix a time for online teaching and students need to log-in to their online for learning. These activities often include chats and discussion forums. Fixed time online courses encourage student interaction.
When should one start preparation for the Civil Services Examination? This is the most commonly asked question by the IAS aspirants.

Well according to the UPSC board a candidate needs to complete 21 years of minimum age to take the civil services examination.

Yet young aspirants have doubt about right age to commence preparation. As a matter of fact there isn't any ideal age for this. But since the board gives age criterion serious aspirants can begin gathering background information about the examination details and such during their under graduation time and by the time they graduate from the University their priorities are cut and they have a solid idea if they'd want to take up the CSE. It otherwise totally depends on individuals. There are success stories starting in the early 20s and even in 30s.

With the Indian Administrative Services gaining quite a lot of attention from youth, it should be noted that super serious ones begin their preparation right from their schooling. And many start seriously contemplate about taking IAS during their bachelor’s.

Each individual’s thought process is different as also their respective strategy of preparation for the examination.

However, if you have dreams of taking the IAS since childhood it is good to begin preparation after tenth grade. That is a actually a smart way to go because the aspirant can take choice of mains subject in eleventh grade itself. Further, UPSC keeps changing the pattern of the examination and someone who starts early has the advantage of understanding these patterns really quickly. That being said, with novice experience an aspirant who gives exam at ages early like 21 and 22 may not attain the competence levels and hence may not be able to clear the exam in their first attempt. Also because of lack of maturity to handle failures at that tender age, he or she may sulk and/or go into depression.

But an aspirant can start preparation as early as 18 and then get into serious mode by the age of 22 and very serious mode at 24. In fact, taking a subject of interest in Bachelors would be a good step too. With six years prep time and serious studying even if the first attempt is given at 24 or 25 the likelihood of selection will be very high.

Remember that right choice at the right age brings right results. Since the syllabus for UPSC examination syllabus is vast a decision of taking up the exam at the age of 18 will give ample time for study. Further exam after bachelor’s gives time advantage. Since subjects studied in bachelor’s are fresh the time can be invested in studying the current affairs and optional subjects

Additionally there are examples of some serious aspirants who after completing bachelor’s go for masters in the subject of their optional. How’s that? Smart, isn’t it? Such people are more often than not rank holders.

With all that being said average age of IAS qualifiers or age of aspirants who crack the IAS examination is 26.9 years. So early is the merry!!
UPSC aspirants develop misconceptions and myths during their preparation and this not only affects their preparation but their outlook towards life in general. So it is advised that the aspirants refrain from buying into myths and get affected in the process. Here are the most common UPSC myths:

Study Time of 16 to 18 Hours a Day

This is the commonest myth that does rounds in colleges and universities. The figures of 16 to hours intimidate many people from taking a call on even trying. Come on people, you need to know that quality doesn’t equal quantity and vice versa. You could study in 6 hours what an X or Y could do in 16 hours and 18 hours, respectively. It really depends on how effectively the time has been put to use rather than how many hours of time went into studying.

Two Optional Subjects

By now, you should be aware that you are supposed to choose only one optional subject. There is no need to prepare two optional subjects. Do not buy into this myth and if in doubt, check the UPSC government portal for clarification.

Study All Of The NCERT Books

There is no doubt in saying that NCERT books give strong basics about all the subjects. However, you need not sit and study all the NCERT books. If your basics are strong why even invest so much time in studying from scratch. You could perhaps do a good revision and it is still good.

To read as many books to clear UPSC is the biggest myth. Think of it – so many books in your shelf could create chaos for you. Stick to the needed resources and you should be a good game. By resources we also mean including news dailies such as The Hindu and The New Indian Express newspapers as well. Stay updated with the latest happenings in the current affairs and also political developments in India and rest of the world.

UPSC Is Impossible

This is laugh worthy to say the least. If UPSC is an impossible to crack of an exam, you wouldn’t see so many people clearing the exam after all. But since having a graduation is the minimum criterion whether or not one is serious so many take up the exam to rake up the competition. Furthermore, in the last few years there have been a drop in the intake and that has made the competition even stiffer. That shouldn’t impress you as an impossible exam. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam had once nicely put, ‘the word impossible itself says I am possible.

Non-English Medium Aspirants Are At Huge Disadvantage

Who said that? This is quite a de-motivating myth that’s been there for long. What you need to remember is that UPSC does not give advantage to some and leave others. It gives people the option of choosing the language for writing the exam. Further to put things into perspective there are many who aren’t fluent in English like you, so don’t panic and give up before even starting your preparation. There are many IAS success stories of people coming from the most rural backgrounds clearing the exam in great merits.

People That Clear UPSC Exam Are Kings

UPSC is the most popular exam for entry to Indian Civil Services. Definitely the achievers are looked up as celebrity figures, but people, they aren’t Kings in the society. Law makers or politicians are the real kings. Can an IAS Officer take a call on petrol or diesel price rise? Think about it, people!

Mock Tests Are Time Waste

Whoever said mock tests are a waste of time surely had not cleared the UPSC CSE, for sure. As a matter of fact mock tests should be an important part of the preparation for the CSE. It gives an idea of where you are and where you have to be to beat the competition.

Don’t Waste on Attempts With Less Preparation

As quoted by Norman Schwarzkopf, the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. This applies to UPSC attempts as well.

UPSC Exam Is A Game Of Luck

No. As you sow, so shall you reap! It holds good for any exam or any work. People who fail to put in their best resort to blaming the luck. There is no short cut to success than hard work. So be it.
This is the question that hits every IAS aspirant. The answer, however, is not a simple YES or a NO, because it depends on individuals’ preferences. That being for those who are strongly motivated self preparation is the way to go.

If you should invest some time in search and research there are tones of videos and resource material one can get online for free, however people would encounter many challenges during self preparation.

Where to begin?

This is the first challenge. For people contemplating to start their preparation, if they are not certain of their optional yet, then challenge gets harder.

A good way to begin is with NCERT text books of 10th, 11th and 12th classes, respectively. History, Geography, Economics, Political Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biology text books to be exact. NCERT books should be taken as beginners Bibles The concepts are laid perfect and written well to get anyone introduced to the subject. After reading NCERT books, people can switch to standard reference books of same subjects.

If you are unable to finalize on the optional subjects you could meet fellow aspirants and borrow their optional books. After reading these for a week or 10 days you could check previous papers of the respective subjects and learn how the optional subjects performed. You could then pick the subject that you are most comfortable as well as the one that has been showing good performance in the previous years.

Tempo

This is the biggest hurdle in the self preparation. The aspirants have to stay motivated 24x7x365. That is a gigantic task. There could be lows and highs in days of preparation, yet keeping up the tempo is critical lest finishing syllabus becomes impossible almost.

You could set a definite routine and strictly adhere to it come what may. Changing your sleep and study routines too often can jeopardize the tempo. Talk to fellow aspirants who have similar frequency and seriousness for the exam whenever you are off your tempo. Unwind and relax and it should help you.

How can you measure your performance?

According to some self preparation saves a lot of time. Agree. You could be religiously following a study routine and covering all the prescribed syllabus, staying motivated and all. But how do you know if you are at par with other serious aspirants? How do you know you are doing in an exam? Ultimately that’s the point of your preparation. Isn’t it? You will have no clue if you are beating your competition or you are in the race or not if you cannot measure your performance. This is one of the hugest challenges of self preparation.

But if you still want to stick to that you could join a test series of prelims as well as mains online and keep a track of how you are doing and how you could improve.

Finally self study doesn’t mean you should not take help when you need it. You could do bulk of your preparation and get some help for the areas you are lagging.

Bottom line, do not be harsh and do not stress yourself. Remember Vivekananda’s words of work incessantly but be not attached to it. Do your work and let things work!!