Implementing ICTs will Make Education System Wholesome

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Going forward, the next big thing to look forward to in the education sector is the online courses and their integration with the present system, opines Prof Ramakrishnan Ramaswamy, Vice Chancellor, University of Hyderabad during his interaction with Rozelle Laha

Has the advent of ICT brought any changes in education?
ICT has increased the reach of education to all the people in India but only a few subjects can be taught through it. A number of  subjects that are research- and laboratory- based require proper classes. The next big thing in education would be the open courses  that are available on the Internet. There will be a big challenge in implementing these courses. These courses have to be used in conjunction with the present courses that we have in India: something interesting to look forward to in the education sector.

In your opinion, what effect is ICT having on education?
We have a number of PG diplomas that are run in 17- 18 areas. A number of experiments can be done in these areas and new ways to  impart education with the help of the Internet can also be devised. From next year, the university will give tablets with all the courses to its students. The course material will be given to the students at the beginning of the session. The students can also avail the facility  of online learning if they have good Internet connectivity. Thus, ICT tools will help in enhancing education domain for the masses.

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We will have to use ICT-based education to reach out to the students in all parts of the country

What programmes has the university adopted to train the teachers?
In order to deliver effective knowledge in today’s world, the teacher has to have thorough knowledge about the concept of Wiki, social  networking and class wikis. He should be trained enough to deliver the content and also know how to deliver that concept with the help  of these new tools. There are a number of new initiatives that the university plans to undertake like the implementation of Moodle. Governmentrun institutions face a few bottlenecks in implementing these initiatives. Reason: the fee in these institutions is very  marginal unlike the fee structure in private institutions. Not just this, government-run institutions also take more time in implementing these changes in technology.

What is your opinion on the contribution of the government in bringing education to the students through ICT?
The government has done a phenomenal thing by building the National Knowledge Network. It has also made initiatives like the NPTel  available. The MHRD is setting up e-pathshalas. These initiatives are very important for the implementation of ICT-based education. Tablets are becoming cheaper. We provide researchbased learning and this requires WiFi connectivity. The university’s campus has  been made WiFi-enabled with the help of the government.

Is ICT a necessity for education?
ICT is the only way education can reach out to all the students in India. There is a continuous talk about inclusive education but this cannot be possible if students have to sit and attend classes. Educating the masses cannot be done without ICT as classrooms do not have enough space for all the students. At the same time, it is also essential that the content is appropriate and it is going to be a  challenge to effectively use ICT to deliver proper education. India can even use television as a medium for delivering education, but it is dominated by the entertainment industry. We will have to use ICT-based education to reach out to the students in all parts of the country in the future.

How quality-focused is education in India?
India is a diverse country and its people use various regional languages. There are some predefined norms on the ICT tools that are  used and they are not adapted to the varied requirements of our diverse country. There has to be an effort to provide ICT content and  courses in regional languages and also have teachers deliver them in local languages. There is also an alarming lack of websites in Indian languages; this hampers the participation of the common man in the technology-based learning.
The current hardware has to be modified for usage by the masses; otherwise everyone will have to learn to speak English so that they can use the ICT tools prevalent in the market. The reason why we use tablets at the University of Hyderabad is that tablets have all the content and also the videos of the classrooms. The content as well as the lectures can be done in regional languages so that all the students can benefit from the technology available.

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