New Delhi: Under draft recommendations to formulate a policy on the role of technology in schools, curricula would encourage children to blog and communicate through community radio.
The national policy on Information-Communication-Technology (ICT) in School Education emulates a method mastered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has revolutionized resource sharing through its open courseware consortium.
As part of a consultative process of the government’s ministry of human resource development (MHRD), which oversees education, the recommendations were drawn from more than 400 stakeholders in the burgeoning education sector: education experts, ICT specialists, businesses and students. They made a strong case for use of technology as an education tool, specifically mentioning blogs, the open source method (which allows for collaboration of technology products) and community radio.
Going digital: A file photo of students working on their One Laptop per Child laptop at a school at Khairat near Mumbai. Experts have made a strong case for a greater role of technology in education. (Photo: Pal Pillai/AFP)
Blogging, the recommendations say, should be encouraged to support creative writing. “Blogs are powerful tools to support creative writing that can be published and shared not only with the teacher but also with peers and the world, alike. Spreadsheets, databases, concept maps, and hypermedia authoring tools (Web development tools) to encourage critical thinking could also be encouraged,’’ the draft compendium says.
It also suggests use of digital devices like robotics kits, digital microscopes, graphing calculators and global positioning system devices for science, math and social sciences curricula. To improve rural access, the draft recommendations also press for creation of localized content to be accessed on the web to help children “proactively explore and capture local realities’’.
“The rural child is at a tremendous disadvantage because of the language barrier and lack of physical access to such resources. We are looking to fill up such gaps by localizing content which remains a major challenge,’’ a ministry official, requesting anonymity, said.
The recommendations suggest Internet access for all the schools and better technical infrastructure. Even though computers have been introduced in schools in India, the education system has largely not been influenced by the ICTs. Hence, a proposed rise in the ICT spendings in school education from less than Rs1,000 crore in the 10th Plan to more than Rs6,000 crore in the 11th Plan by MHRD also reflects an urgency to harness ICTs for systemic change in the education sector.
Though the draft, prepared but not yet published, is being discussed in a group with non-governmental and business representatives, the basic direction, it is taking, has raised some misgivings as well.
“The group established to formulate the national policy is packed with technology vendors, each with a clear vested interest in specific policy choices,’’ a university professor familiar with the draft and committee work said, on the condition of anonymity. “Compared to this, it has few educationists.”
Even the document reflects this cynicism. “We must resist the tendency to please those in power deciding a pace of policy preparation which is neither practical nor appropriate in the situation,’’ Anand Sarup, former HRD secretary, says in the draft document.