Removing Barriers for Learners
December 2015

Removing Barriers for Learners

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Dr Surendra Kansal, Director, ABES Engineering College, Ghaziabad

Dr Surendra Kansal, Director, ABES Engineering College, Ghaziabad

Use of technology will increase the flexibility of delivery of education to the students so that learners can access knowledge anytime, anywhere, tells Dr Surendra Kansal, Director, ABES Engineering College, Ghaziabad, to Elets News Networks (ENN)

In the light of Supreme Court ruling, what would be the impact of doing away with all forms of reservation in institutions of higher education?

According to Supreme Court, the national interest requires doing away with all forms of reservations in institutions of higher education. In the past 68 years since independence and after the adoption of our constitution in 1950, the weaker section of our society was not able to achieve much, as compared to what our leaders may have thought while adopting the reservation policy. It has been witnessed that larger section of weaker society is still struggling to get the basic education facility in rural and urban areas. In this era of globalisation, where India has to compete with the world without compromising the quality output, we have to think out-of-the-box to bring changes in the policy. Leaders in collaboration with the intellectuals have to work towards revision, where policy can innovatively facilitate the weaker section with better education and at the same time able to tap best talents to compete globally.

To reduce the adverse impacts, we can make arrangements of special classes in the institutes to help and motivate weaker students to bring them to the same level where they can work on their improvement areas to compete with the world. After so many decades, we have realised that simply by drafting and implementing a reservation policy we may not be able to uplift the weaker section in the society. It requires a timely upgrade and we all together at various levels still need to work tirelessly to take India ahead by nurturing talents fromall sections of the society. Anyhow, we should not de-motivate people with creativity, rationality and innovations on basis of class they belong to.

What are the challenges Indian higher education system is facing with regard to implementation of technology?

Today, the use of technology is touching almost every part of our lives and communities. This is the reason why use of technology has become an integral component of education as well. When properly used, technology will help students acquire the skills they need to survive in a complex, highly technological knowledgebased economy.

There are certain challenges that Indian higher education system faces with regard to implementation of technology in the institutes:

  • Lack of qualified teachers to teach ICT;
  • Lack of electricity in institutes located in the backward areas of the country;
  • Low Internet bandwidth due to the high costs involved in the connectivity;
  • Lack of initiative by the community leaders as they do not see the need to purchase and subsequent installations of computers as a priority;
  • Obsolete computers lower the morale of both the teacher and the student; it is very common to findsome schools/colleges using very old computers running on obsolete operating systems;
  • Internet pornography, cyber bullying and other antisocial behaviours is a worrying emerging problem.

With the help of technology, how Higher Education Institutions can play a pivotal role in imparting education to the public at large and serving the greater need of society?

Education in India performs certain functions for the society as a whole. It trains the individuals with the skills that are required by the economy. Hence, it is necessary to work according to the needs and demands of the society. Since the population is increasing and number of schools and colleges are limited, we cannot deprive the future of our country from getting educated. Bringing in technology will help removing certain barriers between education and the learners.

The promise of educational technology is more important in Indian context because we have a massive deficit of access to high quality education at all the levels due to a number of seemingly insurmountable challenges, ranging from geographical distribution to socio-economic condition of the learners who attend a majority of Indian schools.

Implementing technology will help in creating interactive study material to engage audience effectively. Technologies when implemented in the institutions, will help impart education to the public at large and serve greater need of the society. Students sitting at distant places can also avail the online classes, give exams, attend lectures, get access to study materials and interact with faculty as well as other students. This will not only extend the reach of education, but will also reduce the cost incurred on setting up an infrastructure for any institute.

‘Access’ to all & ‘Quality’ of education are the major fault lines in the education system in India.What role can technology play in bridging these fault lines?

Use of technology will increase the flexibility of delivery of education to the students so that learners can access knowledge anytime, anywhere. It can influence the way students are taught as now the processes are learner-driven.

The technology is changing rapidly and the growth has been exponential in the last decade. As technology is widely used in almost every sphere of life, it is influencing students’ expectations for it being used in higher education. Online learning, in particular, is publicised as a key delivery mode in higher education that will address the majority of the drivers of change

Through technological transformation, there will be a wider availability of content and best course material in education which can be shared with students easily, fostering better teaching. It will also allow the academic institutions to reach the disadvantaged groups and new international educational markets, enabling the democratisation of education. In developing countries like India, effective use of technology for the purpose of education has the potential to bridge the digital divide.

Use of technology will help in imparting higher education through various forms like multimedia, e-learning, educational apps. These forms of learning can be used on personal devices, thus, giving access of education to all.

How technological transformations and innovative learning tools can change the education landscape in India in the coming decade?

The technology is changing rapidly and the growth has been exponential in the last decade. As technology is widely used in almost every sphere of life, it is influencing students’ expectations for it being used in higher education. Online learning, in particular, is publicised as a key delivery mode in higher education that will address the majority of the drivers of change. People will now expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want. The world of work will become increasingly collaborative in near future, giving rise to reflection about the way student projects are structured. This growth is expected to create opportunities for new content-publishers to enter the textbook market and accelerate the formal adoption of open educational resources to supplement premium digital content.

It is expected that in coming decade, technological transformation will change the education landscape and has become necessary in following ways:

  • It will open new opportunities that improve teaching and learning;
  • Technological literacy is essential. People without technical knowledge will suffer from a new form of the digital divide, which will impact their capacity to effectively operate and thrive in the new knowledge economy;
  • Technology is an integral part to accessing the higher-order competencies often referred to as 21st century skills, which are also necessary to be productive in today‘s society;
  • Technological transformation will open up knowledge and content that otherwise would be less accessible, through access to open educational resources. In this era of globalisation, implantation of technology will internationalise the curriculum which in turn help the students in getting admission in foreign universities, easily.
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