Digital Learning is a combination of technology, digital content and instructions. On one hand, it helps teachers to deliver the content effectively and on the other, it facilitates how students receive content, says Dr Archana Thakur, Joint Secretary, University Grants Commission (UGC), in an interview with Poulami Chakravorty of Elets News Network (ENN).
What are the various initiatives UGC is planning in upcoming months?
As far as digital initiatives are concerned, we have launched “e-PG Pathshala” for 77 postgraduate subjects. We also have come up with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for postgraduate courses available on the SWAYAM platform. In another initiative, we have come up with SWAYAMPRABHA — an online platform to host MOOCs.
One of the major breakthroughs in the digital world of education is that all the scholarships to the students will now be transferred online which earlier used to be sent through cheques causing numerous irregularities. Now, the money is transferred immediately and there is no middle-man.
Other than that we have also started using software like “Skype” to connect with the offices in other parts of the country and conduct meetings with the officials there. What measures should be taken by the government for skilling students as well as teachers to impart quality education? Now, the call of the day is to shift from brick and mortar classrooms to MOOCs. In remote parts of our country, where the teachers or students are not equipped with skills related to computers or mobile applications, getting them trained in these skills will help them to have world class education while sitting at home through the computers or their mobile phones. The Government of India is taking lot of initiatives to train teachers online to impart education digitally to students even in the remotest part of the country.
Digitisation is not going to prohibit face-toface interaction of students and teachers. Digitisation is an additional tool to help improve the teacher student interaction and education system.
How important is to skill teachers for developing a better educational ecosystem in the country?
Teachers are the architects of future of children, a country’s most important asset, so skill training of teachers is very important. Teachers’ training in their respective subjects and on their students’ well being, moral education, value, ethics, and other cultural areas, is necessary to make them well equipped for imparting quality education to students. Teachers’ training is also important not only to make them expert in their respective subjects but also to make them ethical and gender sensitive for girls as well as for boys. It helps teachers to be role model of their students.
What initiatives should be taken by the Central Government to improve the education system of every State?
The role of State Governments is much more important than that of the Central Government as the Centre brings a law or Act in any field but implementation part is on the State leadership. The States in India need to equip themselves with the right tools and values to improve the education system even in the remotest corners.
Are there any negative impacts due to digitisation of education?
Every initiative has two aspects right and wrong. It is up to us how we look at it. Digitalisation of education is helping the sector positively. Orthodox system or teachers still consider digitisation bad for education, as they say that it has killed the creativity of teachers and students as everything is available online. It is important to be in sync with the rapidly changing world. The need of the hour is to understand students’ requirements and digitisation is helping in that. Digitisation is not going to prohibit face-to-face interaction of students and teachers. Digitisation is an additional tool to help improve the teacherstudent interaction and education system.
What is the role of corporate to improve the country’s education system?
Corporate are doing a great job as far as improvement in education sector is concerned. Corporate are coming up with new learning solutions, smart classrooms and mobile applications for easy yet better learning processes. Various educational institutes are also tying up with these corporate for implementing their solutions. It is helping the institutes to adopt the latest practices and innovate the learning process positively.
One of the major breakthroughs in the digital world of education is that all the scholarships to the students will now be transferred online which earlier used to be sent through cheques causing numerous irregularities.
What are the steps taken by the government to improve the education in north eastern region of the country?
The north eastern region is very important and the Government through its initiatives like MOOCs and other digital platforms is trying to bring the region to mainstream.
How was your experience at 7th HE HR Summit Pune of Elets?
It was a great experience as educationists from state universities, private universities and other higher educational institutes from across the country came and shared their experiences of digital learning. They also explained about the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), flipped classroom, digitisation and smart classroom. Various companies showcased their sophisticated software for digitised educational content to be used by students on their mobile phones.