BY MUKHTAR AHMAD FAROOQI
Unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic which swept across the globe creating crisis at an unimaginable scale and scope led to the closure of academic institutions across nations. Institutions made adhoc arrangements of moving to the online learning platforms with agility. Those institutions which had the robust IT systems and e-learning modules were able to manage better than those without it but in reality everyone tried his/her best to learn how to use otherwise unfamiliar learning platforms for content delivery.
The resultant grim circumstances leading to the closure of conventional learning methods gave new dimension to education. Various Edu Learning Platforms sensing the opportunity started luring more customers by different marketing strategies. Edu Platform is an integrated set of interactive online services that provides the teachers, learners, parents information, tools, and resources to support and enhance educational delivery and management.
These days TV ads are flooded with ads from these learning platforms claiming to use innovative pedagogies and best in class faculties in specific online learning courses. Apart from other common marketing strategies, these marketers and entrepreneurs use FOMO strategy. FOMO means “Fear of Missing Out”. The FOMO marketing strategy is a form of marketing in which advertising is structured in such a way that it triggers the impulsive customers to make a purchase and seal the deal in a limited time. It is meant to trigger people to take action quickly or otherwise they might miss the chance of capitalizing on the opportunity that is coming their way so that they may not have to regret in future. The psychology behind FOMO marketing works because we are reluctant to take risk or remain far behind.
Education sector took a giant leap after the onset of Covid pandemic in embracing the new norm of digital transformation. Ed Tech companies realizing the bright future in our country as there is huge chunk of population marginalised due to digital divide, are leaving no stone unturned to market themselves in the best possible way on every media platform. All educational institutes and individuals have fallen prey to these marketing strategies and have become desperate to try their hand on any (Learning Management System) or Edu Learning platform out of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
Although there’s no harm in embracing any positive change but if it challenges or is detrimental to our natural abilities, then something bad is cooking. TV ads by various Ed Tech companies offering Coding, Chess, Music, Maths etc. like courses which are flashed almost after over in a cricket match or other channels is intimidating parents especially novices to enrol their children in such courses so that aren’t left behind in this crazy rat race. There’s is no doubt that these courses will develop computational skills in learners but those who are not naturally inclined to these courses will not benefit from them rather will prove detrimental to their academic growth. Those children who aren’t willing to learn these courses will still do wonders in their chosen academic or non-academic fields. We have several live examples of people across the globe who did wonders in other fields as well. Coding might help in developing problem solving skills but what about the natural intelligence. This would be tantamount to judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree.
When we talk of complete education, then development of all mental faculties should be focus not one particular faculty. On one hand we talk of emotional intelligence and at the same time we stress on logical or cognitive development only. In this code maniac scenario, I fail to understand what sort of good it will do to those having taste in literature if enforced enrolment is done in these online courses. Anyone desirous of doing good in any sport, what sort of impact any 2 or 3 teacher math or coding class is going to have in his sport skill development/growth is debatable. These already overburdened children are going to crumble emotionally if proper and responsible parenting is not done.
E-readiness of a society for any digital transformation is must. E-readiness is the capacity of the society to incorporate ICT in all its pursuits. It primarily depends upon availability of skilled human resource that is capable of using, improving, innovating and adapting the new technologies. What to accept and absorb is not the issue but how much and by whom is confusing us. Lesser readiness to these innovative tech tools is making us fall prey to strategic FOMO trap. These companies are even sending promo codes through different media platforms to trap innocent people in this cobweb.
It is pertinent to mention that development of basic IT skills in contemporary times is must as digitalisation has almost reached every domain of human existence with businesses and education being no exception. Ours is a culture where parents guide rather compel their children to take any course mainly on the basis of what neighbourhood child has opted without deliberating on the child’s interests. Eluding our children from natural learning and joyful play means we are grooming emotionally weak personalities.
If all and sundry are dragged into this coding fiasco, then we will be having B.Tech like(with due respect to them) unemployed and unproductive human resource. Having studied coding myself, I don’t think it does any wonder if one has not due passion for it. Don’t be part of this rat race, your child won’t be irrelevant/trivial if he doesn’t want to learn online coding or such course which not only are expensive but have health hazards if considered in totality. As an informed and conscious parents we need shun code mania as there’s world beyond computations and programming.
PS: We need to realise that capitalist ethos have engulfed every domain of life with education being no exception. All these Ed tech companies have capitalist interests in showcasing FOMO ads of various market driven courses thereby marring and intimidating our natural decision making practices. Researches have shown that development of emotionally intelligent human resource is better equipped to deal with life challenging situations than those having only academic excellence. Aim of education is not to produce trained/skilled human robots devoid of empathetic essence but the human beings having emotional viability and humanistic values that are productive both in social and economic contexts as well.