December 2007

A Year On The e-Learning Way!

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With the push toward Web 2.0 technologies, Time magazine last year named “you” as the person of the year for 2006. In the world of education, this signifies the growing attention toward personalising and customising learning and placing the learner at the centre of all learning activities. In the year 2007, we further recognised this, by thinking about the learner within e-Learning, not simply technology.

A myriad of new technologies impacted our lives and education in 2007. Not only technologies, the year created a chronic condition in information overload. Researchers continued to progress towards determining the instructional design features, intelligent tutoring systems, virtual reality, and multimedia environments. Coming back home, India has promoted through a multi-pronged approach to ICT education revolving around increasing the availability and improving the quality of education. Many states set up Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) as centres of excellence. Research and development in the emerging areas of technology and supercomputing are being pursued. There seems a continuous upgradation of standards at the school level with emphasis on physics, mathematics and English. Despite considerable growth in the numbers of computers acquired by schools, the incorporation of ICT into the educational curriculum has been promoted as a key step in bridging the digital divide.

The Internet subscribers base is increased to more than 35 million by 2007 from just four million earlier. PC penetration is expected to become 20 per thousand by 2008 against 5.8 at present. Connectivity to Government Senior Secondary Schools (Vidya Vahini) and upgradation of IT infrastructure in the higher learning institutions (Gyan Vahini) has taken the first row seat.  Steps are taken to address the issue of lack of qualified faculty and poor infrastructure in the academic institutions. Promotion of distance education, emphasis on postgraduate and continuing education and research has received adequate attention.

The system is made more demand driven by allowing the private sector to fill the burgeoning demand for both school and higher education. Increased school/university-industry partnerships to translate research into applications has yielded more economic value. Lifelong learning programmes are used to meet the learning needs of all, both within and outside the school system, including using distance learning technologies to expand access to and the quality of formal education and lifelong training programmes. The online tutorials and examinations, assessment systems, are flourished during the year, extending the horizon of education and skill building.

While many States have developed state-specific policy on ICT in School education, the need is felt for putting in place an enabling policy for use by all stakeholders at the national level. The Ministry of HRD  has taken the initiation to formulate a National Policy on School Education, while developing a set of policy objectives, guidelines, and practices, by following a consultative and a participatory process with all stakeholders.

Today when we are approaching the close of the year, we will realise that India's achievements and enormous potential are yet to be unleashed. The time now recommends an India-led process to coordinate and integrate reforms, combining those in the economic and institutional regime with the many initiatives in education, innovation and ICTs.

No denial to it that there happened a shift from knowledge in the classroom to knowledge everywhere. This shift is radical, but progress is not. Today's knowledge everywhere is an evolution, not revolution. Revolution is too strong a word for where we are today. 2008 is just round the corner. How will we use the year 2008 for pilot projects, continuous improvement, measurement, and change management? How will we bring knowledge and support closer to where it is needed and advance this worthy revolution? Let me leave the thread here for you to think and wait, for what all will dominate and paint the ICT and Education landscape in 2008.

The New year also brings the time to celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of Digital Learning and we are glad to invite you to be a part of this celebration through our Anniversary Special issue in January 2008. Till then, happy reading!

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