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The new look and approach, On-Line Education Needs

By  Prof Pradeep Mathur and Dr. Anubhav Mathur

Every crisis throws unforeseen challenges. The crisis created by the Corona pandemic has been no exception to this. Besides posing a big challenge to public health sector and various areas of economy, the pandemic also created a serious crisis in the sphere of education. The massive damage done by Corona to the education sector in our country did not figure in public domain at all.

With 25 crore students in schools and nearly 3.7 crore students in colleges and professional institutes, India has one of the world’s biggest education set-up. However, hardly 30 per cent of these students in urban and rural India have internet facility and digital devices like computers and mobile phones to use this facility. This means that the lockdown and the fear of corona virus that led to closing of educational institutions created a situation of no teaching for 70 per cent of our students. This is singularly unfortunate in a developing country where education is basic to fighting backwardness and improving the living standards of the masses.

The lockdown and what we call Corona Protocol also resulted in   a big loss of teaching jobs. But more than that, it brought to light the fact that even the smaller percentage of students with internet facility did not get proper education. The reason was not only problems like erratic power supply and poor internet connectivity. The inadequate   knowledge and poor skills of teachers in the use of digital devices for on-line education was a major constraint. This has been unfortunate because imparting training in the use of digital devices for teachers and students was least problematic of the many grim challenges the   corona pandemic posed before us. The immediate need to improve   techniques and skills in on-line teaching methodology, therefore, cannot be over emphasised.

   Before we talk of a strategy to train teachers in digital media skills and prepare them for imparting effective on-line education, let us try to understand as to what exactly is involved in teaching by sitting before a computer instead of standing in a class room. In layman’s terms, digital media refers to any kind of information broadcast to us through a screen. This information might be found on websites or in applications, software packages, video games, and more. This makes digital media a very broad term.

Those in the field of education should take to digital media use to facilitate more effective teaching and learning methods which includes interactions and communication with students.

Digital media is a transformative technology that is dramatically changing the face of the academic world in the developed countries. In the Corona times we have been trying to adapt to major changes in how we interact with and communicate to students.  In a way, it is an exciting time to be in education. Harnessing the power of digital media has the potential to re-engage students and their parents. This calls for a minimum level of digital media fluency in using appropriate digital platforms.

 But digital media fluency necessitates that all those involved with training and education develop at least a working knowledge of the myriad technologies including digital media and cloud computing platforms. Determining what are basic applications and their potential pitfalls remains rather difficult. Yet this is a critically important task for all.  Ultimately, this will enable us to develop effective standards and protocols for digital media use in all spheres of education.

What we need is a teaching community well versed in the use of digital technologies and willing to upgrade its skill to communicate with students and motivate them to use the potential of digital media tools for enhanced learning.

Clearly, digital media use by teachers seeking interaction with their students need to be more focused. The desire for communication and the ability to complete tasks online has to be fairly strong. 

 Innovation is fundamental to any social activity and embracing change must continue with our approach to digital media. We can tweet safety alerts, track trends on policy initiatives on Twitter and use smartphone apps to report potholes in our education system or address ethical questions. Our limitations are only bound by our imaginations and our willingness to embrace change.

Digital media eliminates barriers of time and distance. In education it can improve knowledge delivery through increased access and processing speed. Data can be readily shared and transformed into usable information via accessible central repositories. Access to data across classrooms can facilitate small, but useful change.

The blueprint for digital media use in the field of education is still evolving and there is no one-size-fits-all model. Therefore, it is important to chart our own path as we reach to improve our teaching and learning skills. Accessibility to knowledge is translating into new ways of delivering in lecture rooms. So, all of those in the field of education must effectively adapt to this new paradigm and improve their core competence.

The following three-point program can serve as a starting point for   developing the skills of the teaching community that will meet the challenge posed in imparting on-line education

  • Planning a series of flexible and broad-based digital media programs, both in terms of faculty resources and IT skill enhancement that can grow, as needs evolve.
  • Developing a formal digital media curriculum to serve as basic to ensure universal application and common usage in the field of education.
  • Establishing networks of open data systems to facilitate broader faculty engagement in problem solving in the education sector.
  • On-line education was there even before Corona forced lockdown and made home stay necessary. However, Corona created a need for its widespread and universal application. With the country all set for a massive vaccination program, we will win the war against Corona soon. However, on-line teaching, which became a necessity to meet the adversity can be converted into an opportunity to spread the net of education.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. AlignIndia does not take any responsibility for the content of the article.

Prof Pradeep Mathur is a veteran journalist and media educator. Dr. Anubhav Mathur is Asstt. Professor, IIMC, Jammu Campus. Jammu. Communication Research and New Media are his core competence areas

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