IT in education
IT in education
As technological advances are introduced in education, the
promise and potential of IT in enhancing learning is attractive, but the lack
of initiative has hampered its progress, says Vertika Yadav
Educational institutions are getting smarter. Technology is changing the way
faculties teach and students learn. It enables one to spend less time setting
up learning frameworks and more time on actual learning. Investing in technology
has become an imperative in imparting complete education and spreading literacy.
The Cause of Literacy
Simulation Games at
S P Jain Institute of Management
Beer game (Harvard)
Logistics & SCM
French Paradox (France)
Sales & Marketing
IT is seen as a critical component of the educational experience,
creating opportunities for students. Many software companies are developing
educational software to facilitate teaching.
Tata Consultancy Services has devised technological support to accelerate the
efforts of the National Literacy Mission to spread literacy through the Computer-Based
Functional Literacy (CBFL) programme. CBFL relies on the cognitive capabilities
of individuals to associate complex visual patterns representing words in Indian
scripts with their meanings as well as phonetic utterances.
The Centre for Rural Systems and Development, an NGO, has been running a literacy
campaign using CBFL in a village called Inamagaram (Sholavaram) in Tamil Nadu
for two years now. Women who participate in this adult literacy programme are
part of a self-help group working for their empowerment. The literacy levels
among them are close to zero. According to the group facilitator, Suguna, The
women here cant even travel because they cannot read the bus route numbers.
I wanted the women to be independent at least in trivial matters such as these.
Suguna, who herself is only a 10th pass, is determined to make this campaign
Livening Up Learning
Country Manager, Macromedia
Macromedia has been developing programmes for schools. Students
never got interested in what was being taught. They found textbooks dull and
boring, informs Shriram Krishnamachari, Country Manager, Macromedia. The
software designed using Flash and Dreamweaver is interactive and visually attractive.
A Delhi municipality school has been using the software for teaching its students
subjects such as maths and science, and has observed a growing interest in subjects
usually considered tough.
IT Helps the Deaf & Blind
Computers are used not just for routine teaching, but are also put to use in
innovative ways, as in the case of the Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and
Students never got interested in what was being taught.
They found textbooks to be dull and boring
The educational curriculum at HKIDB aims to develop a students
literary and academic skills, including reading and writing, cognitive skills
(reasoning, attention to tasks, memory, retention, cause and effect), motor
skills (hand-eye co-ordination), perceptual skills, orientation and mobility.
So far, these skills were taught the old-fashioned way using books or
charts in Braille. Today, computers have become an important part of the educational
process at the institute, explains Beroz Vacha, Founder, HKIDB.
Software with attractive visual and auditory features is used to encourage low
vision or hearing-impaired children to work on their residual vision and hearinglarger
fonts (type sizes) enable children suffering from low vision to read comfortably.
A section of HKIDB is pioneering the Computerised Mini Braille Press project,
set up in January 2002. Here, the deaf and deaf-blind are trained to use computers
and undertake computer-related programming and designing. This computer training
unit-cum-mini Braille press produces a variety of materials to suit the needs
of the deaf-blind, blind and low vision or hearing-impaired individuals.
The deaf students are trained in graphic design to produce tactile graphic
educational material. The blind who are proficient in Braille help in proofreading,
A newsletter, Deaf-blindness in Asia - A Communication Link is composed and
published by the Braille Press, and is circulated among all centres for the
deaf-blind in Asia, Europe and other parts of the world.
A software called JAWS (Jobs Accessing With Speech) enables
the blind (who have normal hearing) to use computers by listening to the audio
interactions; it is also essential for synthesising text or commands on screen
into Braille, which then appear on the electronic Braille display board. People
who cannot hear, but have normal vision, work on graphics using CorelDraw, while
the printing and packaging jobs are looked after by the deaf-blind.
Futuristic learning at Pathways
Many schools arent riding on
the IT wave yet, but Pathways International School, a residential school
located in Aravali Hills, 30 kms from Delhi, has invested over Rs 2.25
crore in creating its IT infrastructure. The school spends about Rs 35
lakh towards annual IT maintenance and services. In terms of IT,
we no longer see computers as a subject, but as a tool to help us do anything
and everything in education, explains Prashant Jain, IT Head at
The schools campus boasts of
Wi-Fi connectivity that gives students better interactivity, mobility
and 24-hour access to relevant resources. It has Microsoft Exchange for
e-mail, with the Exchange Server residing within the campus. Students
are given a lot of assignments that they can work on using computers to
conduct research. The school has 24x7 controlled Internet connectivity
with bandwidth and traffic managing and monitoring software.
The schools library is totally
automated with a solution called Destiny, a Web-based software from Follett.
Students can look for a book and reserve it online. Our students
can browse through the library even from home, informs Jain. They
can also communicate with other students and teachers at anytime. A Web-based
ERP is now being implemented to help parents track the progress of their
wards anytime from anywhere.
Technology As An Aid To Learning
This is the issue at the heart of institutional and personal decisions related
to the adoption of technology-infused teaching and learning.
Few would argue that an understanding of computers is necessary in todays
workplace. Employees are required to do inventive thinking, have digital literacy,
communicate effectively, and work in teams. Acquisition of these skills
can be facilitated by technology, says Professor Sunil Rai of the SP Jain
Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR). The institute uses simulation
games from Harvard (such as Marstat and MarkOps) to teach students the concepts
of marketing strategy and operations. Through these games students put
their knowledge into practice and learn; they are not just learning theory,
Technology, particularly the Internet, is a tool well-suited for learning. Although
our understanding of how we learn has advanced tremendously, the impact of technology
on learning is still lagging. Many institutes are not using computers for anything
beyond routine administration. Even when computing is taught as a subject at
primary levels, the courseware rarely ventures beyond BASIC and the Binary System.
Technology has great potential to enhance student achievement
and teacher learning, but only if sufficient attention is paid to its importance
and benefits. Many of the top schools consider IT infrastructure spending as
an expense rather than an investment. Some are oblivious to the advantages that
IT can bring to a school. Only a thorough understanding and an open attitude