Technology Takes over Teaching

“Guruur-Brahmaa Gurur-Vishnuh, Gurur-Devo Mahesgwarah, Gurureva Param Brahma”
There can’t be a better thing to say about the teacher on this Teachers’ Day. Teacher is Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and Lord Parameshwara.

But teaching as profession is undergoing transformation. On one hand many reports cast doubt about the dedication of teachers to the noble profession because of their bunking schools in rural India, on the other hand digital technology such as Internet may even takeover the task of teaching ensuring thereby an equity in teaching quality.

It is not only IITs that are preparing all the lectures serially in videos that can be downloaded through Internet as and when required or heard as many times as one wants. Many more initiatives are underway to replace or at least ease the task of teachers. Almost all good private schools are using technology to make teaching easy and learning more effective.

983 Kendriya Vidyalaya schools are also trying to use IT to improve our teaching methods. Most KVS schools are connected to the worldwide web. Re-training teachers is now simple affair.

Digital Study Hall (DSH), an initiative developed by Randy Wang and Urvashi Sahni has brought a revolution in the impoverished villages surrounding Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. It’s working is simple: volunteers record the classes of teachers at top public schools in Lucknow, the recording is then copied onto a DVD, which is then sent, often through the postal system, to outlying schools in rural areas. In these schools, the DSH Foundation, along with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has installed DVD players and televisions. Besides the students, the biggest beneficiaries of the project were actually rural teachers, who adapted teaching methods shown on the video.

MNCs such as Cisco, Intel and Microsoft as well as local biggies of IT sector such as Wipro, Infosys and many other companies are working with the government or NGOs on the education projects.

Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have become pioneers in pushing technology in a big way. MP is on the verge of equipping all 5,000-plus secondary and senior secondary schools with computer labs in a public-private partnership. Interestingly, the private player will be allowed to recoup his costs by using the labs after school hours to run a business, which could be a cybercafé or a computer-training course. It is these innovative models that can take India ahead.

Andhra Pradesh (AP) has initiated Computer-Aided Learning (CAL) that is driving students and teachers with better results. It has reduced student dropout rates and lowered faculty absenteeism. AP has trained approximately 7,000 teachers in CAL since the state tied-up with Microsoft to set up a training institute. But it is to cover approximately 74,000 schools as part of the state system in Andhra Pradesh. A long way to go!

Hughes Communication India Limited (HCIL) in association with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is working on the most ambitious project to provide a comprehensive two-way audiovisual teaching mechanism under the EduSat banner. The project is imparting elementary and higher education programmes through a network of seven central studios and 800 classrooms at this moment and is benefiting over 10,000 students across the states of Chennai, Kerala, Punjab, J&K and Jharkhand.

However, India is to go miles to cover millions of students in schools and colleges in the country. The difficult task will be to cover rural schools with hardly any infrastructure or even honest teachers. I wish the governments-centre and state, the private companies and NGOs could pull all its synergies to cover all schools of the country.

On this Teachers Day, the nation must take a pledge to make education brighten the life of each and every children of the country. I can’t but mention about one unique initiative. It’s Times Group’s ‘Teach India’.

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