December 2006

HIV education and e-Learning

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What often slips our attention is, that the 'haves' or the people who do have extensive access to ICT, don't seem to be 'more aware' or 'less prone' to HIV!

What ICT can't do

We are all familiar with the term, 'digital divide' which splits the world into the 'haves' and 'the have-nots' in relation to Information and Communication Technology (ICT).  What often slips our attention is, that the 'haves' or the people who do have extensive access to ICT, don't seem to be 'more aware' or 'less prone' to HIV!
 
It is important to highlight the absence of any correlation between ICT access and the probability of getting infected by HIV, right in the beginning of this article. This is because, there is a chance that the title of the article implies that e-Learning is a 'magic wand' which would make the problem vanish or to say the least, diminish!

Though a passionate believer in ICT for learning and empowerment, I have no delusions about the potential of ICT. ICT is nothing more a tool. If used imaginatively and responsibly it can yield amazing results beneficial to humans.  So having set the records straight, what can ICT really do for the HIV conundrum?

Challenges faced by educators

There is a lot of information 'out there' about HIV and AIDS. Media is replete with articles on the subject. Safe sex, risk behaviour, prevention of HIV infection or living with it ought to be common knowledge. However, there is a shocking level of ignorance among the public at large and youth in particular.

A considerable amount of time, energy and money is spent by many organisations on HIV education. But it is a drop in the ocean.  The inclusion of 'Sex Education' in mainstream curriculum is still hotly debated in many parts of the country.
 
While the educators debate, nothing stops young people from exploration based on half-baked knowledge. Ignorance and misinformation leads to distorted values, warped opinions and unnecessary moral positions among people. This creates an extremely unhealthy and dangerous society to live in with or with out HIV.

What ICT can do

   Learning Content

Today, ICT multimedia has the combined potency of movies, interactive games and educational experience.  If the educational experience is designed scientifically, the initial perceptions transform into a learning engagement and the engagement process results in knowledge creation, attitude change and skills transformation. This applies to any subject area or domain and to any target audience. In a mass education environment, ICT helps the educators achieve, standardisation of the quality, correctness and completeness of content. Though the dynamics of learning vary from location to location, class to class and individual to individual, replication of the minimum levels of learning across the board becomes a lot simpler than relying on traditional methods.

   Learning portals

Further Internet, like HIV and life, is a great leveler. The Internet brings people from diverse socio-cultural, economic and geographic backgrounds together. It facilitates collaborative and peer-to-peer learning. Thus, ICT tools in the right hands have answers to the three basic issues related to learning  viz. Quality of Content, Effective Information Dissemination and Effective-ness of Learning 
    
Activities of Sudiksha 

At Sudiksha, it is believed that the single most important factor that improves the quality of life of an individual is education. If the learning experience is effective, there is a marked change or improvement in the ability of the individual to cope with life.  The area of life impacted will depend on the domain of learning whether it is health care, environment, vocational training or other subjects. The learning experience determines the nature of impact on the life of an individual. There are two areas of Sudiksha's work as outlined below.

   Content development 

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