(The Gist of Science Reporter) ICT for Quality Education in India [MAY-2020]
(The Gist of Science Reporter) ICT for Quality Education in India
ICT for Quality Education in India
Information which encompasses all communication technologies such as Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, satellite and Communication Technology (ICT), communications, digital television, etc. has fundamentally changed the way we live now. We find a world of difference in the practices and the procedures of fields such as medicine, travel, tourism, business, banking, engineering as they operate now in comparison to how they operated three decades ago.
The impact of ICT on education however has been far less and slow. Though the lack of sufficient funding to purchase technologies has often been cited as a reason for this, the real and the most significant cause has been the lack of motivation among teachers to adopt ICT as teaching tools. But in recent times, factors have emerged that have strengthened and encouraged moves to adopt ICTs in classrooms and learning settings.
Scenario in India:
India has the third largest system of education in the world, next only to USA and China, with about 1000 universities and around 40000 colleges.
To introduce ICT-enabled education in such a large system one needs to have high quality multimedia enriched content in different disciplines for various courses, capacity building of teachers and students in ICT skills and state-of-the-art infrastructure along with broadband connectivity for disseminating the content so that it reaches the doorsteps of the learners.
During the last few years, the Govt of India under the “Digital India” initiative has taken several steps to integrate ICT with higher education. The result is that the face of higher education in India is changing very rapidly.
ICT in Learning: E-Learning and MOOCs
E-learning or electronic learning basically means learning using ICT – the focus is still on learning, ICT is just the mechanism. E-content is the basic element of e-learning and is obtained from static content developed by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) after multimedia enrichment.
The static content contains text, value additions, quizzes, graphics, images, etc. This static content is multimedia enriched by adding audios, videos, animations, simulations, etc. wherever necessary. Multimedia enrichment helps communicate difficult concepts in simpler ways and thus offers unique advantages in the field of education. It enables learners to experience their subject in a profound way.
Quality of E-content
The quality of e-content is very important in e-learning. A good quality e-content is one that has all the features that make self-learning exciting and interesting. It needs to be authentic; it should facilitate self-learning and self-assessment.
It must be highly interactive, multimedia enriched and the whole content should have been written and arranged in a very structured fashion according to the prescribed syllabus. Easy navigation, modular and reusable are other qualities of a good e-content.
What are MOOCs?
MOOCs is also a form of e-learning but in a very structured manner. “MOOC” is an acronym for Massive Open Online Course. The word “MOOC” was coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier.
“MOOC” is an acronym where “M” stands for massive, because there can be unlimited or massive enrolments; “O” for open i.e. no qualifications are required for enrolment in a MOOC until and unless you want to obtain grades/credit. “O” for online, as this content is available online and can be accessed through the web; and “C” for courses having specific learning outcomes.
Structure of a MOOC:
In a MOOC, e-content is arranged either in week-wise format or topic-wise format. For example, for a MOOC developed under ePGPathshala project of UGC, in one MOOC corresponding to a one semester paper there are 35-40 e-content modules having a total of 20 hours of video content and 20 hours of non-video content.
The various modules are arranged in a very systematic and logical manner and are covered in fifteen weeks. The first seven weeks are self-learning weeks; eighth week is a revision and assessment week; week nine to fourteen are again self-learning weeks and week fifteen is revision and assessment week.
MOOCs and SWAYAM Portal:
All the MOOCs being developed under the aegis of the MHRD by various national coordinators are uploaded on the SWAYAM portal and can be accessed through www.swayam.gov.in. SWAYAM stands for “Study webs of active learning for young aspiring minds” and is a platform for hosting various MOOCs.
Technically, it has been developed as a Learning Management System having the functionality of uploading and hosting e-content in video and non-video format along with online self-graded quizzes, discussion forums, assignments, etc. for each MOOC.
ICT in Revision of Syllabi:
The much required regular and more frequent revision of syllabi in view of fast growing knowledge is a very big challenge in the university system. The process is very cumbersome and time consuming as it has to go through various statutory bodies besides soliciting the opinion of various subject experts. ICT can be of great help in this regard.
Through emails, discussion forums, video conferencing, etc. experts across the country can work in a collaborative manner towards regular upgradation and improvement in syllabi. They can also take inputs from industry, if need be, to make the course up-to-date and industry relevant so that the students are better employable.
ICT in Assessment:
Due to the paucity of time and poor teacher-student ratio, frequent and uniform assessment of students is a big challenge.
With the help of ICT, Online examination and assessments can be done more frequently and uniformly with immediate results. Analysis of testing and individualized feedback can be given, so that the weak concept can be studied again.