Mr. B K Murthy, Director, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Technology, Government of India, started by talking about a National Knowledge Network approved by the government in late March 2010 (costed around 5900 crores, taking over from National Mission). The plan is to connect all academic institutions on a high speed redundant mesh network. Applications in e-gov, health, grid computing, telemedicine and country wide classrooms (6 such virtual classrooms have already been established).
Prof. S Choudhary, Vice Chairman, National Council for Teacher Education talked about the wonderful impact of technology on teacher education, a change in mindset from questioning technology use to how we can use it effectively. However the big question is the low level of utilization of ICT at the school level. 38% of the teachers have access to the Internet according to a World Bank report. We have unique problems such as the ICT equipment being under lock and key of the headmaster and an arduous process for the teacher to even get these into the classroom. Language is a big problem, most of the content seems to be in English. A serious problem is that the attitude of adminstrators and teachers is weak in terms of these changes. Technology may be over hyped, the real problems need real attention. In India, “the bullock cart and the jet plane will coexist”.
Rajan Varada, moderator and Resource Person, United Nations Solution Exchange, applauded the reality check given by Prof. Chaudhary.
Dr. S. Nandy, a Six Sigma black belt, Associate, Quality Council of India, was next. He agreed with Prof. Chaudhary in bemoaning the poor attitude of government, teachers and management of the educational institutions. The teaching learning process could do with great improvement – through collaboration and those processes that will excite students to ask questions. Leave apart the institutions like the IITs, how many of the other institutions do meaningful research. Overall, the quality of HE needs a lot of focus and this is something that is an essential piece of the accreditation puzzle.
Prof. A K Bakshi, Director of the Institute of Lifelong Learning (ILLL) at Delhi University, talked about the use of technology for learning at DU. We have to be clear about the use of technology. Requirements are scale, the other is the mindset of today’s students, helping us meet the fast growth of knowledge. ICT has not percolated because of access problems, but also of high quality content. So ILLL follows a three prong strategy – high quality content to empower teachers and students; capacity building in ICT skills; and infrastructure and connectivity – to help leverage technology for education. Content in 15 UG disciplines with thousands of teachers from Delhi University involved in this venture. This is text and multimedia enriched content. A studio has been setup for video sessions and e-LABs. The move from rote learning to out of the box thinking is most critical.
Prof. Z H Khan, Director, Centre for Information Technology, Jamia Islamia University, spoke about the comprehensive nature of JMI (from nursery to PhD). There are about 15,200 students and over 4500 students in the school sector. The university has fibre and copper connectivity with about 3000 internet nodes with a central MIS system for administration. For teachers they have had programs in Web 2.0 for education and new tools and techniques.