Taking Education Online

When we have a fully online system of learning, students will be able to access educational content without having to come to classroom

By Prof M J Xavier, Director, IIM Ranchi | www.iimranchi.ac.in

In places like Ranchi, the connectivity related infrastructure that you find in the top metros is not there. But even the smaller towns do not want to be left behind. That is why Ranchi has taken up distance learning in a big way. I am of the opinion that the classroom mode of teaching has now become obsolete. A blended method of teaching is a better alternative. Perhaps a modern Gurukula method where there is 24×7 teaching is a better option.

The social media has to be integrated with e-learning methodologies, so that the educationists can reach out to larger numbers of students. It is possible to have a system where students who cannot come to the class will be able to attend lectures while sitting in their hostel. We are expecting seamless connectivity between the college and the hostel through NKN (National Knowledge Network). Once NKN is in place, the teacher does not even have to come to the classroom. Perhaps even the students do not have to come. The teacher can deliver his lecture from anywhere, his office, his home, even from another city or abroad.

However, the problem with this system is that it does not create an opportunity for a personal interaction between the students and the teachers. Students can not just raise their hand in the middle of the lecture and hope to put a question to their teacher. It might be possible for a moderator, or a group of moderators, sitting somewhere in the NKN chain, to offer a kind of call centre facility. When students have doubts they can call up the call centre number and place their question. But the question might not be answered directly by the teacher; it might be some other expert who would do the answering.

Students attending from hostel, study centre and other remote locations will be provided with iPad kind of device that will be configured for receiving classes. Even when students are based in remote locations, bio-metric attendance systems and cameras can be used to capture their image to prove that he or she has actually attended the lecture. With the launch of 3G services all sorts of possibilities have opened up.

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