Delivering life-long learning support

Prof (Dr) Sandeep Sancheti“e-Learning will soon be the key mechanism for helping us achieve the required GER, bring diversity in the nature of programmes, tailor degrees, and help learners satisfy their quest for knowledge,” believes National Institute of Technology, Delhi Director Sandeep Sancheti.

Considering the digital divide in our country, how effective is e-Learning in reaching out to the rural or backward areas?

eLearning has huge potential to reach out to the masses, particularly to those from rural and backward classes due to its potential accessibility, reconfigurability, and speed of implementation, where all other competing approaches have failed. Moreover, its low cost (virtually free in many ways), ability to mitigate shortage of quality teachers, features of self-learning and lack of optimal class sizes, etc, also offer an edge.

The only limitations are factors like proper awareness, adequacy and reliability of network bandwidth, and fear of use of new technology. I am sure these can be overcome easily with collective efforts from both the government and the private sector.

How beneficial is learning in a virtual classroom?

Virtual classrooms can be very beneficial as they can operate in anytime and anywhere mode easily: the foremost desire of people from different backgrounds. In fact, this is the only possible way for delivering the needs of ‘life-long-learning’ support.

Several parallel efforts are being made to launch virtual universities catering to all types of courses

On top of this, technology-enabled learning empowers the learner with features like personalised pace of learning, language translation, repeatability, and 24×7 support. Virtual mode is a great value addition to conventional teaching-learning methods, which of course has its own advantages.

What in your opinion is the future of online education in India?

In one word, it is ‘bright’. Soon, it will be a key mechanism to help us achieve the required gross enrolment ratio, and diversity in nature of programmes, tailor degrees, and in many cases, help learners satisfy their quest for knowledge in new and emerging areas. As of now, several parallel efforts are being made to launch virtual universities catering to all types of courses including professional courses like engineering. Few hurdles like online/virtual laboratories and examinations, if overcome properly, can make it the most used method for education in the entire world.

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