Virtual model school in Delhi: Can other states adopt this model? – Indian times | Team Cansler

Background information on Delhi’s Model Virtual School

In early September 2022, the Delhi Government announced the Delhi Model Virtual School (DMVS), a virtual school for students in grades 9-12. The official website of the virtual school in Delhi clarifies that it is open to students from all over India. Applications for admission to the school were open until September 10, 2022. The main characteristics of the school are described as follows:

  • Free access to Delhi’s educational model for children from anywhere
  • Flexible school options for students
  • Personalized mentoring and tutoring for small cohorts
  • The freedom to make an assessment at any time
  • Socialization and co-curricular activities
  • Diverse selection of subjects and competency-based courses
  • Preparation support for JEE/NEET, CUET etc

The concept of the virtual school was proposed by the Government of Delhi in the 2021-22 budget. Chief Deputy Minister, Manish Sisodia, assembled a six-member committee of school principals, teachers and IT managers to examine global virtual school best practices and models in the United States and New Zealand and present a plan for the Delhi Virtual School. However, the committee report is not publicly available.

Do virtual schools deliver learning outcomes? International Narratives The Covid-19 pandemic catalyzed education in virtual mode, with physical schools closing to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Online courses are more effective because they deliver the learning content in front of each student, allow students to listen to lectures at the volume of their choice, and minimize the transition to the learning point.

Despite the convenience of online education, there is little convincing research in favor of virtual learning. Although there are studies that indicate increased academic gain in virtual learning programs, there is a large gap in the quality of many of these studies, even internationally.

In the United States, virtual charter schools offer instruction in online or blended formats (online with some classroom instruction) and operate in 21 states. However, there is no evidence to support student gains in relation to test scores. Virtual schools also had far more students for each teacher compared to traditional public schools. Recent data for both virtual and co-ed schools in the United States shows that they are performing poorly. Graduation rates (2021) of 54.6% in virtual schools and 64.3% in co-ed schools fell far short of the average national graduation rate of 85%, although this represents an improvement since 2017-18. While results are abysmal, enrollment growth has continued.

Online Learning in India – What Sparse Research Tells Us

There is also a lack of robust research on the effectiveness of technology-enhanced learning in India. A survey in India examined 232 undergraduate and graduate students at various colleges and universities in West Bengal and identified several issues such as: B. Lack of internet connection and lack of a favorable home environment for learning. Azim Premji University conducted a study involving 1,522 teachers (in 1,522 schools) and 398 public school system parents in 26 counties in five states. These schools have more than 80,000 children from the most disadvantaged regions of India. The survey of teachers and parents revealed challenges such as the ineffectiveness of online learning solutions in providing meaningful learning opportunities, the marginalization of the majority of children due to poor access, and teachers’ professional frustration.

Replication of Delhi’s virtual model school

Research has shown that virtual schools run by public education initiatives perform better than private initiatives. In this context, Delhi’s virtual model school, which is a government initiative, shows promise if replicated in other states of India. But the challenge of accessing quality devices and high-speed internet in a way that facilitates learning remains an issue for students in the public education system that has yet to be addressed. One could argue that only those with access could sign up for the virtual school option. But the online school cannot provide a holistic learning experience.

In order for this “model” to be scaled by other states, a few other concerns need to be addressed. First, there is no legal framework for virtual schools in India. Even the Delhi School Education Act 1973 and the Right to Education Act 2005, which set out several conditions to be met for recognition as a school, impose brick and mortar infrastructural criteria, with no criteria for information technology based infrastructure.

The National Education Policy 2020 promotes digitization, the integration of technology into curricula and emphasizes the need to invest in creating an open, interoperable, viable, public digital infrastructure in the education sector, without setting any guard rails on how to do this . The country’s school education laws would need to be changed to allow for the virtual school model.

The lack of a legal framework also means that the safety of children online remains a concern. For example, although there is a standard privacy policy in Delhi’s virtual school model platform, there is no explicit commitment that the data collected will not be shared with third parties. Binding to the general terms and conditions of the DMVS takes place through a mandatory tick at the beginning of the registration. But it has no hyperlink of Terms and Conditions! There are also no disclosures about criteria used to select students for the virtual school.

A key criticism of online learning opportunities is that they are ineffective in providing actual education. Other operational disadvantages are – difficulty in maintaining an emotional connection with children in this mode, difficulty in conducting meaningful assessment of learning, and insufficient time spent with children for their learning.

Strict monitoring and evaluation of the virtual model school in Delhi would be needed to properly assess its impact. If the model school is launched with an accompanying impact assessment plan and legal framework that regulates virtual schools, the lessons learned from the Delhi pilot can provide long-term and scalable benefits for India’s public education system



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The views expressed above are the author’s own.



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