‘Education is a lifelong process,’ I’m sure you’ve heard that old adage. But what of education in a changing landscape? Substantive investments have been made to put new era technologies in classrooms so that every citizen is equipped with the skills needed to live and work in the new Information World. However, for us in the developing world, the very mode of education may have undergone a sea change, but increasingly we are called upon to discuss the depths of the subject in terms of quality, relevance, updation and scope, to name just a few.
The road ahead is difficult and basic infrastructure issues need to be resolved alongside the move towards technology. For example, nearly 57% of Indian schools with computers are unable to use them due to lack of electricity.
While education is keystone to preparing the next generation for a knowledge-based society, it is fact that a child learns what he or she lives with. This generation of children have grown up in the presence of computer screens and have a different perspective from us. Increasingly, we find that the young around us are automatically more comfortable with technology. The Internet as a readily available source of information and method of communication has led us to new perspectives in knowledge-sharing and at the same time, brought out the need for greater discernment in terms of the methods used for assimilating information and, or knowledge. There is nothing that is secret any more, everything is read, everything discussed and everything said, as mentioned in Edna Aphek’s article on the Implications of Education in this issue.
All this is not in isolation from the mode of education and it’s delivery mechanism. We’ve all heard it said at some point or the other that ‘the medium is the message,’ but in this case the use of ICT in the delivery of education has caused a paradigm shift. The first witnessed use of ICT was in the workplace but now ICT has become an urgent component of education which must be woven into the very fabric of Indian society. It has also caused a paradigm shift from teacher-focused or teacher-centric education to a learner-centric one.
Research shows that children are no longer restricted to the curriculum for their inputs. Learning currently happens in almost a peer-to-peer (P2P) mode and ICT and the Internet provide the backdrop for this. Such as the example of teachers such as Pritam Singh who are using blogs to popularise interest in the subjects they teach. In such a scenario, partnerships, alliances and even a totally current phenomenon such as social networking in the Web 2.0 world have proven themselves as the way forward. We Indians already score high in terms of social networking as it is ingrained in our culture, as is our respect for learning and learning opportunities. I wonder what Web 3.0 has in store for us next?