Digitisation in education


Digitisation in education
Many institutions in India are using technology and new pedagogy to improve the educational experience of students on their campuses or elsewhere. More such efforts are needed if India wants to bring in a revolution in the education sector
The digital era has brought the most sweeping changes in scope and hope, if not yet, in depth and in immediate reality to education since the printing press. The primary manifestation of this over the last quarter of a century has been in the form of availability and ease of access to content from newspaper reports and social records to scholarly articles and literature. This has permeated education in many ways as students and teachers are no longer confined to the limited means of their own institutions. But more importantly this has created awareness among students and teachers that importance of mode of information as a means for growth has reduced significantly. Gathering information as a skill is now of the same importance as that of arithmetic skills in the post-calculator era. In these and many other ways, digitised access to information over the Internet and through mobile devices has become instrumental in democratising education in the broadest sense.
Until recently though, the impact of digitisation in classroom teaching had been minimal. For more than a decade the use of online learning platforms such as Blackboard and Moodle has been prevalent in some countries and has been becoming common if spotted in India. But they had remained supplementary tools to traditional classroom lecture formats. Also, educational institutions in India and abroad have been offering digitally-recorded lectures in the form of removable media earlier and over the Internet in the last decade. This has providedenhanced access to structured digital content for those who cannot physically attend an institution.More dramatic innovation has come in the form of flipping the classroom, i.e., providing lectures in recorded form to students beforehand to be absorbed at their own pace and convenience but engaging students in a classroom in t activities that were traditionally expected of the student outside the classroom: discussions, problem solving, peer collaboration, etc. This change in pedagogy t although orthogonal to technology per t se has been significantly enhanced by the use of online learning platforms. t Platforms offering MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity, to mention a few, are enabling a global marketplace for formal teaching where a course can be developed and offered by a great teacher but made accessible to practically anyone who has access to the Internet. This global reach has brought a certain amount of hype to this model but admittedly the last word on where this model will settle is not yet written.The hype is not without substance though: it is clear that the Internet will soon be accessible by any human being anywhere on earth; and early experiments on MOOCs suggest that the physical distance between teachers and students can effectively be bridged by diligent teachers with adequate technology and supporting manpower.
The flipped mode of pedagogy and content that is tailor-made for selflearners are key requirements for success of the MOOC model. And this combination may indeed change the way a conventional university functions internally students enrolled and physically present in a university may take their courses through an online platform so as to learn at their own pace and con venience while hopefully finding more fruitful methods of engaging with teach ers to gain from their expertise and experience.
Institutions like IIT Bombay and BITS Pilani apart from others are using technology and new pedagogy to improve the educational experience of students on their campuses or elsewhere. Many more such efforts are needed if India were to leapfrog on the education front to this century as it did in the case of access to mobile phone services. It is the only way to nourish the large younger generation of this nation which in turn is the only hope for the nation to go forward.
The writer is Professor of Computer Science and Dean of Academic & Resource Planning at BITS Pilani Views expressed are personal
Source | Times of India | 7 January 2015


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