Amit Gupta, CEO, S Chand, speaks to Pragya Gupta, on the subject of the role that tablets can play in education space
What is your view of the role that tablets can play in Education?
There is an uncalled hype around tablets in education. Tablets are nothing more than a device, which occupy the space between a smart phone and a laptop computer. There is no denial about the importance of technology in education. But hat is most important is to establish a context and definition about learning and type of learning. The tablet can be a strong tool if used properly. At the same time, it can be a major deterrent to effective learning. This goes back again to establishing a context, if a tablet is used for refreshing and carrying out an assessment of learning, it can be a great device. But if tablet is used as a substitute for a computing device, a laptop or as a substitute to a book or teacher in a classroom or formal environment, it can be disastrous. In that case, it would encourage casual ‘need to know’ learning and would be more focused on examination success. My apprehension is if not used properly, tablets can be the digital answer for rote learning. Access to information, affordability and flexibility are major positives, but the technology has to be properly mentored and developed in order to bring maximum benefits to the learners.
What is your take on the content availability?
Content in any medium, from books to computers, to web to smart devices and now for tablets, is the most critical and relevant part of the learning process. Unfortunately, world over, the content is being given the least priority. Developing good content based on pedagogy, sound instruction design, at the same time keeping learner engagements is not only expensive, it is also time consuming and it calls for specialisation. It is also important to understand that the content should bring real-life experience into the learning process.
Unfortunately, there are no benchmarks for quality content and everyone is engaged in developing content. In my opinion, content would be available for tablets in every form standalone (stored alone on the device), in a network or through the web. There will be vendors converting existing content, organisations developing new content and the state providing budget outlays and investing money in development of content.
In my opinion, more than worrying about customisation of content, while advocating and distributing tablets, it is also important to define what would be the contribution of content on the tablet to overall learning process. It is also important to research and debate the issue of tablets being promoted in educational institutions merely because of their affordability. Distribution of tablets in a country like India where there continue to be gaps in the learning infrastructure tantamounts to an overemphasis being placed on devices and new technologies. If the tablets have to enter the education stream, they have to come through a natural process.
Please share with us S Chand’s plans for using tablets in education space?
S Chand primarily is ‘Knowledge Corporation’ with an unmatched legacy of content creation and delivery. As a content company, we feel responsible to the education community as a whole. The content provided by us is unmatched in the -12 and technology space in the country. Our simple belief is that in a classroom, content should be delivered in a manner where all aspects of learning processes are covered. That’s why our content is not merely multimedia rich animation and videos; it is also based on the context of establishing an interactive learning process in the classroom.
Similarly, when we look at tablets, we relate to them as an individual learning device. We need to differentiate between academic learning, information gathering, application, skill development, and assessment. Considering the strength of tablets and also looking at low impact learning aspects of a tablet, we should be coming up with content that fills the gap between the classroom and after classroom studies and provides the learner with simple and engrossing content.