The revolution of digital era has expanded the horizon of education sector to a great extent. Tablets, one of the m-learning tools, have leveraged the level of education to a much higher pace with a focused approach. Prof. Dr Sharad K Goel, Director, Accman Institute of Management, shares his views with Elets News Network
How important do you think is a tablet for the curriculum in your institution?
There are no technology shortcuts to good education. Information technology should be targeted for certain, specific use or limited to well-funded schools. Technology at best only amplifies the pedagogical capacity of educational systems; it can make good schools better, but it can also make bad schools worse. Technology is just a medium, what count is your own brain and how you are contributing on the subject. For example, if you find the meaning of a word or concept through internet and then you begin to use it and apply in your daily communications, it means you are learning. But if you keep forgetting the meaning of that word or concept, it probably means that you need a more engaging approach to remember it. Learning with tablets provides that engaging and exciting manner of learning with a wider scope in the field of education. Tablets involve faster access of education information, cost and energy savings. They contribute to the development of the students, institutions, education industry and finally economic development.
Is a tablet the only way for the colleges and the universities to help their students understand the concepts better?
No, to make student understand the concept better tablet is not the way only. Tablet is also a good measure of providing education to the students with the equal response where they can extract the information for their development, but there are the other ways available for the same like i-Pad education, e-book, lightbot and social education through YouTube, Twitter, Google and Flickr that provide leveraging to students to learn using new concepts.
However, to be frank, in current scenario, we all are technophobic. Though tablets are very useful for those students who already have an access to better infrastructure for their education they are not the only way for the colleges and for the universities to educate their students.
Tablet is an interesting way of learning and offers all the information at the tip of our finger, but it cannot help all the time as it cannot replace the human touch of a real teacher. Though tablet, ebook and e-content have a lot to offer still lack many functions our desktop and laptop can do. The functions which are not available in a tablet include recovery of data once deleted, formatting, data not seen in the main location of the data file or of the database. As a consequence it limits a student’s development.
How do you evaluate, assess a tablet before selecting it for the curriculum in your institution?
First of all, I would like to go for a good brand product within a specified budget. Good battery life with good processor speed and storage capacity. It should be supported with SIM card. It should have internal and external storage capacity with Wi-Fi connectivity, hotspot, USB dongle, video conferencing and video call to make the process of studying interactive and engaging. Also, checking customer review on the internet can come handy in making the right choice.
Introduction of digital tools into the classrooms has brought the narratives alive. The traditional tools of teaching are slowly losing their relevance. Do you see any inherent contradiction between the two?
Yes, with digital technology it has become possible and relatively easy to create texts, which contain different kinds of expression such as images and sound. With the increasing use of digital technologies in classrooms, it is now possible for students and teachers to engage in tasks, which were previously out of reach. But in traditional tool of teaching a teacher know their students’ weaknesses, requirements etc which creates a familiar environment and bridges any gap between teacher and student. Teachers’ personal involvement is of the utmost importance in clearing concepts to each student.
Yes, there is the contradiction between the traditional way of providing education and the modern way. Traditional education is related to where there is no online education facility provided thereon and which results in the long process of cost, time and effort. This also offers scope of learning but at the cost of a lot of time and money. The modern education and online education is very wide in scope and different from the education of chalk, duster and blackboard. The new method of education focuses on student’s overall development. Modern education tools are related to the facilities of projector study, laptop study which relate the student’s development.
Although the private institutions are far ahead of the public institutions, the new government appears committed to bridging the digital deficit. How do you think the government should move?
Private institutions are far ahead of public institutions due to the lack of good infrastructure including land, fund and other availability of resources. To overcome this problem government should allow using projector, providing tablet and smart phone instead of desktop and computer which requires huge space and funds. Private institutions are having the wide approach and are far ahead of the public institutions as the private institutions are using technology in all the areas of study like commerce, mathematics, biology and science.
Technology at best only amplifies the pedagogical capacity of educational systems; it can make good schools better, but it can also make bad schools worse
The digital roads to the smart education have their own shares of the potholes. Infrastructure continues to be the main bottleneck. How do you think that it can be overcome?
Infrastructure has been a problem in digitization but it can be overcome by providing tablet, smartphone etc to the students. Infrastructure continues to be the main bottleneck and its requirement of WAN (Wide Area Network). There is a need to develop efficient and effective infrastructure in every school, and lastly provide data centre for overall development for every student.
Must the e-content be regulated? There are equally good reasons for both in favour or against. What is your take?
No, it should not be regulated. It should rather be open for everyone. It depends on an individual how to use it. It also depends on what content an individual need and how much they need. e-content must not be regulated as we know that online information is the wide source of the information and information must be available to all at any time and place with no restrictions.
Do you think that e-learning runs the risk of over exposure and doing more harm than good in the end?
No not at all, it is not an over exposure because anyone can see what is given on internet. It is not in our hands, the information provider can provide information as needed. There should be username and password for each employee using the site to secure the information and important content. e-learning has a wider scope of learning that results in the development of person who is using e-learning for his own benefit.
The massive open online courses (MOOCS) have brought closure the dream of digital equality in our country. However, the shallow internet density in our country is making a crisis out of an opportunity. How do you think can the government come to seize upon the opportunity?
It will be successful when internet is available everywhere including remote areas. It should be provided with good quality and at low price. Presently the internet price is very high and internet density in our country is very poor. The massive online courses have really brought the dream of digitization in our country with a very good approach. The government must come up with good options like WAN Connection, proper infrastructure, data centre, WI-FI facility and plan in each and every area, and online courses in every city. The government must do such activities for the growth and development of digitization in economy.
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