Published: 08th August 2020
Technology will have an important role to play in getting GER to 50% by 2035: IIT-M Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi
The panel examined the new education policy and the role technology can play in it by bringing quality education to a wider audience of students
A virtual panel organised by the University Grants Commission on August 7 threw some light on the ‘Equitable use of technology for better reach in education’ as a part of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The panel consisting of Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director of IIT Madras, Nageshwar Rao, Vice Chancellor of IGNOU and Mini Shaji Thomas, Director of NIT Trichy explored the possibilities of technology at length based on their rich experience within the industry.
“To get the Gross Enrolment Ratio to 50 per cent by 2035 as the NEP envisages is not a small target,” began Bhaskar Ramamurthi, “To get this done, we need to use every trick in the trade and all the resources available. In all these aspects, technology has an important role to play.” He went on to present three major ideas based on tried and tested approaches from IIT Madras.
He noted that many younger faculty members have realised then when they come back to the classrooms, it is less distracting to continue with regular face-to-face classes with the help of technology. Using online educational tools like uploading notes and lectures in parallel with a conventional education enhances the learning process across the board. He also added that the increased connectivity between teacher and student changes the game completely.
Ramamurthi also said, “This is relatively inexpensive, all students need are their phones. Something we've been trying across the country with over 1000 institutions working together is to identify the best teachers in India and offer their classes to a wider audience through MOOCs free of charge.” He also emphasised on the need to offer more degrees online and find a simplified way to do it for more undergraduate courses as well.
Nageshwar Rao chimed in with the importance of IGNOU’s SWAYAM platform, a programme initiated to achieve the three cardinal principles of the education policy, including access, equity and quality aiming to take the best teaching and learning resources to every citizen by courses designed to bridge the digital divide.
“The delivery mechanism for e-resources has to be fast. We have abundant national resources. The National Digital Library has around 5 crore books available with 26 lakh users. During the COVID-19 crisis, it has also been made available in local languages. IGNOU is also offering up its own platforms. We have around 6 lakh learners will have access to 200 courses which can be simply downloaded on their mobiles. E-resources should be offered on one big platform free of cost through mobile apps. We should also work with Doordarshan and tie-up with carriers like Tata Sky and others to ensure it reaches as far and wide as is possible,” he said.
Mini Shaji Thomas began by saluting the team who prepared the NEP. “In the times we are living in, technology has a big role to play with everything from equity, flexibility and to learn whenever and wherever a student wants to. While a rigid curriculum is preferred by the administration and the faculty, it is not necessarily what the students want, based on my 35 years of interaction with the student community. We need to use technology to make the curriculum more flexible and open.”
She emphasised that many students choose a particular subject due to societal or parental pressure. For many, once they realise that it is not their passion, they tend to lose interest. So she called for educational institutions across the country to work towards being more flexible at an institutional level. She quoted, “Technology can become the wings that will allow the educational world to fly farther and faster than ever before if we allow it.”