by August 1, 2011 0 comments

Education has always been a primary area of concern the world over. The traditional methods of teaching and managing students are hardly approved of nowadays and the growing mandate is in favour of having a more student friendly education system, ie a mode of education that students prefer and which helps them in mastering their subject better. Technical and scientific education is being applied to make non-technical subjects more comprehensible. Though IT in education sector is still in its nascent stage, a lot of commendable work has been done. The basic use of IT, as anywhere else, is to create a database, disseminate education or e-learning, and manage students.

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Universities like Amity deliver lectures/classes through video conferencing. Students in various cities were taught like big virtual classroom, where they can interact with the lecturers and students with ease. Very often it has been seen that education has been deprived to the willing in remote areas. Poorly run village schools cater to lakhs of students from poor families. IT in distance learning has the potential to bridge the urban-rural divide. Lack of access to education in remote areas has been a major cause of poor educational standards in India.

How can IT benefit education?

Centralisation of administration is a key area that requires IT, as with the growing of number of students and courses and various activities involving them, the fleet of teachers require a centralised automated system to ensure transparency and swift dispensation of work. Some other key areas that require automation include digitisation of student performance management, interaction with parents along with new forms of virtual education, unified admission system, online application system, smart cards for students for attendance related purposes and their report cards, and lastly to devise a unified management solution. IT can make the processing of the vast number of student enrolment easier and less time consuming for educational institutions.

IT in school education

IT in school brings to my mind a scene from a recent movie ‘Dayein ya Bayein’, where a village school was given three computers, but the person supposed to help with it was always knitting a sweater in front of it. It may not be the larger scenario, but IT in schools, particularly in state-run schools is limited and uneven due to inadequate budget.

Private schools have been more positive in their approach to IT implementation to make education as a process more worthwhile and interactive. One reason for it is that modern tech savvy parents expect their children to learn through modern scientific means and the students are thoroughly updated and demanding since they have access to IT even outside school; unlike government school students, many of whom don’t even have a personal email account.

Though, video has been a popular ICT tool in education the trek is now towards IT. Student admissions, digital library, online results, scholarships, online portals, printers, projectors, scanners and whiteboards are some of the IT related tools in school education. One major change in approach in IT that private schools need is to not use IT only to teach IT, but to use it to teach other subjects, like arts, commerce etc. in other words for e-learning.

IT in higher education and research

Higher education and research institutes have imbibed IT because their level of sophistication demands high level of automation and IT infrastructure. Here, the divide between private and public is dismal, since government institutes have lagged behind in realising the importance of IT. Research and development based institutes such as CSIR, ICMR, DRDO and ICAR have used high level of automation, especially in libraries by creating a database. Compared to them, academic libraries are lagging behind, even though some amount of IT can be seen in them too. For instance, JNU has subscribed to twenty two international online databases covering about 10,000 full text journals, along with 4,500 full text scholarly electronic journals from 25 publishers across the globe and can be accessed from all the schools/centres under university Wide Area Network. Manav Rachna International University has created an online enrolment solution that can be accessed by aspiring candidates from anywhere. Also, it allows students to take up courses of their choice online. KarRox has deployed CRM to ease student applications and have a unified campus management. KarRox portal was used to get students’ feedback. Campus Management System is like a digital campus, where admin can monitor everything from faculty to infrastructure on a daily basis.

The road ahead

IT deployment in education requires certain automation tools such as cloud software, printers, desktops, servers, scanners, wireless connectivity, and smartcards for students. One must know that IT deployment is expensive and also mere provisioning of IT and its solutions doesn’t mean educational standards will improve. Trained teachers and experts are needed to run ensure effective implementation of IT at all levels.

What to buy?

These are some of the popular products being used by educational institutions:

eBeam projection system is a projection setup that can be used during presentations. It adds value to presentations and records changes for later review. It is compatible with Windows and Mac and is priced at Rs 35k.

Interactive whiteboards for presentations, which accepts both finger and pen input. It is damage resistant and can be wiped. It can be used to play educational games by multiple people simultaneously.

Interactive panels such as Hitachi T-175XLG is a compact, interactive LCD display for auditorium-based projection of lessons and allows writing directly on the screen and has eight fully customizable buttons. It can connect to your PC and LCD projector for simultaneous viewing.

Wireless tablets from Hitachi, WT-1 and BT-2G work as remote control to whiteboards and allows drawing and
writing with pen. It has all-in-one solution with an optional starboard.

Educational projector: The short throw CP-A220NM from Hitachi delivers an impressive 80-inch image from 50 cms, and allows it to be placed extremely close to the screen, ensuring shadow free images and flexibility.

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