Monthly Archives: March 2012

eLearning makes teaching easier and learning faster

Experience has shown that eLearning makes it easier for teachers to teach, and ensures that students learn faster. Teaching complemented by digital learning tools, which include activity-based modules, which makes teaching interactive, improves the comprehension and retention capacities of students dramatically. Mere traditional teaching, without digital tools, makes learning monotonous and leads to low retention.

Digital learning tools have one more advantage – it lets teachers monitor each individual student’s progress and performance. Thus, the teacher in a class can set the pace according to the needs of the class, and even customise her teaching for any student having difficulty in comprehending a particular concept. Besides, an individual student herself can set her own pace to suit her own needs.

Assessment tools help teachers plan their lessons accordingly. Assessment is an important part of learning as it evaluates learning outcomes, provides remedial inputs and offers a powerful set of solutions towards consistent development of students. eLearning modules makes topics simpler to understand, while interactivity ensures that students stay focussed for a longer period of time. Thus, students develop creative, problem-solving, communication and analytical skills — essential to succeed in the 21st century, when competition is tough.

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Technology influence – Are we on the right track?

The rapid pace of technology is having its impact on every aspect of human life, may it be the family, the work place, or social life. Mankind seems to be passing through a crisis. Technology trends, scientific and mechanical ways of life are fast reducing human beings to the status of a machine. Conflicts of ethics, behaviours and traditions in the name of generation gap are permeating the atmosphere. Where do we look for the solutions to all these social and global evils, which remain a challenge for mankind?  The education system, which should be the answer, itself is undergoing a tremendous change. Educators, policy makers and leaders across the world are collaborating to create learning communities to find ways to prepare students of today for tomorrow’s world. In our endeavour of promoting technology as the tool to cope for training of skills for future, let’s gauge whether we are on track. Are we on the right track? Do write to us here.

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Digital education fuels creative thought process

More and more schools are discovering the advantages of eLearning and are embracing digital education. Modern education goes beyond the classrooms, and, indeed, the borders and boundaries of countries. Education has become an exciting interactive journey of discovery. Digital teaching offers solutions that help teachers in classrooms with software, hardware and school support services. Interactive learning is an enriching experience. It also promotes critical thinking among students. The present generation of students are alert and very aware of facts and happenings from around the world. They don’t accept at face value whatever anyone says – even their teacher. They need validation/confirmation. They ask questions and want justification. What better way to let them do this on their own and put them on a journey of discovery than digital education?

Teachers also nowadays need to have the latest information at their fingertips so that they can answer any query from a student. Such interactions fuel the creative thought processes of not just students but teachers, too.

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Education drives prosperity, progress

Education has a direct link with a country’s prosperity. Our large population must be leveraged to advantage. All countries with huge populations have made excellent use of this resource to drive economic growth and improve the standard of living. This was done mainly by achieving high literacy rates.

Singapore is a good example of how education can transform a country. Although it has very few natural resources, Singapore has a very high GDP, all because of education. Education drives progress. Education drives intellectual capacity building, which drives the ability to know right from wrong, which results in overall better governance. Education drives innovation, values, the ability to see the future and solution-based thinking, which drive economic growth.

Studies have shown that an increase of 20 to 30 per cent in literacy produces a gain of 8 to 16 per cent gain in GDP. The true benefits of education and its impact on productivity and economic growth must be understood and harnessed to take the country to glorious heights of development, progress and prosperity.

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Average cost of getting digital classroom very low!

The concept of ‘digital classroom’, wherein conventional teaching is aided by technology-based learning, is growing fast among the private schools in India. A large number of schools have already made the switch, either fully or partially by adopting the digital classroom system, but a huge majority is yet to make the change. The number of schools is so huge that the segment is expected to grow at a rate of almost 100 per cent per annum over the next several years.

It is true that a certain level of investment is needed to convert a conventional classroom into a digital one. The initial cost may seem prohibitive, since some hardware and equipment need to be installed. There is usually also a periodic ‘licence’ fee that needs to be paid to the vendor.

However, taking all costs over a period of five years into consideration, the average cost – the cost per student per month – works out to be very, very low, maybe about a hundred rupees. That is an investment well made if the immense benefits of a digital classroom are taken into account. Not only does teaching become easier and more interesting, taking a huge burden off the teachers, the students also improve their understanding, grasping and performance. Experience has shown that this does happen. Teachers find digital classrooms a huge help that only enhances the quality of their teaching.

Once the initial capital cost has been recovered, the actual running cost goes even further down, lending a big edge to the school, the teachers and the students. In short, it is a sensible investment. A digital classroom is equipped with IT learning tools to enhance quality of teaching through digital content, animation, concept simulators, interactive and activity-based learning.

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Digital learning is becoming a game-changer

Digital learning is fast becoming a game-changer in schools all across India. Once digital learning becomes the norm in schools, India will not lag in student assessment programmes, but lead from the front. In today’s hyper-competitive environment, rote learning without comprehension doesn’t take students far. For example, rote learning only works with standard questions. If the same question is re-framed from another angle or in different words, students schooled in rote learning cannot comprehend them and are unable to respond appropriately.

The need, therefore, is to impart education in a manner in which the students will understand the concepts rather than learning things by heart. Digital learning and interactive education methods can ensure that education is imparted in this manner rather than stuffing the student’s mind with information.

Instead of rote methods, schools should combine traditional teaching with means digital learning that also includes interactivity. Digital learning uses modern gadgets like computers, something today’s generation is most comfortable with, but these need to be used in tandem with traditional teaching. Today’s students are very comfortable with technology. They also have very alert and receptive minds. These two factors have created limitless possibilities with digital technology and are bringing about a paradigm shift in the K-12 sector. The benefits of this transformation will become evident gradually as schools begin to adopt interactive classroom teaching and virtual learning systems by using information and communication technology.

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Transform attitude towards education

In a society richly steeped in culture, traditions, heritage and multilingualism, we need to reflect on transforming the attitude towards education. The educational system must allow for the fact that there are different ways of knowing and learning styles, and impart learning accordingly, rather than focus merely on “knowing” and impose information. The focus should not be to give the students merely a certificate or a degree at the end of an academic year and after an examination, but to give them a proper education were thinking and analytical skills are encouraged and inculcated and experiential learning is included.

Schools must change their outlook towards education, and also adopt modern methods of teaching-learning, like digital learning and hands-on lab kits. Intelligence should be developed to make create competent human beings, not merely disciplined minds but crammed with too much information. We must understand what education means in its deepest and widest sense.

Education should not merely create a literate individual, but a well-rounded personality who will make the nation great. Of course, we do need skilled technicians, competent doctors, and, above all, good citizens, but these will be incidental benefits if the system of education is good, modern and up-to-date with latest technology. If we can change our approach to education in this manner, the country will be well on its way to being a super power of the world!

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Classroom technologies need catalysts of change

Implementation of digital learning technology is gradually becoming a norm in schools. Investors and heads of institutions are now more willing to invest in a digital learning system. Training of teachers, therefore to ensure that classroom technologies yield positive results is essential.

Of course, technology is never a substitute for good teaching. Good teachers need to be trained to integrate their pedagogy and content knowledge to impart skills of 21st century education, in the way that the new generation prefers to learn.

Some pertinent questions for promoting technology in education are:

  • How will the teaching faculty adapt to technology-enabled education?
  • How to motivate faculty to change from the traditional teaching mode to contemporary digital teaching?
  • How much training would be required to ensure that they use it effectively in teaching?
  • Will the use of technology in teaching actually improve the grades of low performers?

Do write to us here with your opinions/suggestions.

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ICT still away from rural areas

Even though we have travelled long way in implementing ICT in classrooms, little has been done to ensure that it is applied in institutions across the rural India. As always, rural areas have been ignored and till now adoption of technology has not contributed in uplifting the poor. In this case too we will have the same old excuse of “India is a developing country”, which is often the story heard in the rural areas. Lack of infrastructure such as proper buildings, electricity, internet connection, lack of teachers and the lack of commitment above all has lead to this situation.

Education is the driving force behind the economic prosperity of a country like India. So the government and the citizens have the responsibility to ensure that the education system contributes to the development of the state and well being of the citizens. The best available option to improve the education system is technology, which should be applied wisely so that a better educated generation is moulded. Connecting the rural India should be of top priority of the government if it needs to achieve inclusive growth.

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$500 m WB aid for RMSA a welcome step

The decision by the World Bank to extend aid worth $ 500 million to the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), the ambitious secondary education project of the Government of India, is a welcome step. This will ensure that technology-enabled quality education is available, accessible and affordable to all students at the secondary level, i.e. Classes IX and X.

Aimed at gradual universalisation of secondary education, the project is designed to meet critical needs in secondary education. The goals are to expand secondary education, enhance its quality and equity, and to develop and evaluate innovative approaches. We do hope that this will pave the way for adoption of digital learning technologies to hasten the process and make secondary education universal.

Today, most of the economic and employment growth in India is taking place in skilled services like information technology, financial services, telecommunications and skill-intensive manufacturing, all of which require, at a minimum, a secondary education degree. Surveys show there has been a steady rise in the rates of return to secondary education, which indicates that demand for the types of knowledge and skills gained, is rising faster than supply.

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