Round Table on
“Content, Connectivity & Accessibility in Education”

October 17, 2008

By Devvrat Kapoor

NIOS Chairperson Professor M C Pant set the tone for discussion as he put forward his point of view that the country is facing the challenge of less number of educational institutions in addition to the issue of creditability and quality of education. He recommended that in such a situation, ICT solutions can make educational content accessible.

But there are various questions that need to be answered as far as ICT education is concerned, taking into account India’s illiterate population, power availability. Very importantly, it will be very difficult to fix a common standard of education for 35 different states in this country.  

Two kinds of literacy were talked about–Functional Literacy and Basic Literacy. It was also pointed out that content development is more towards training workers rather than citizens. It was also emphasized that educational parameters should be broader so that people can adjust with change. For example, in case of a job change, one should be able to adjust to a new environment and their education should not go waste.

Mr. Ramesh Verma from Reliance opined that standards should lead to meeting of various educators at one level. He also stated that quality is focused at a stage where completion of training ends rather than where it starts.

Delegates from Nagaland spoke about their challenges which were different from rest of India because of tribal differences and the fact that although ICT education tools are available to be assessed by teachers, but there is no inclination to adopt these measures. Besides, development of ICT education is very slow. Another delegate emphasized that quality content is related to multiple intelligence theory in which every child is divided into one of the eight types and accordingly the content is designed for him.

Mr Pant further elaborated that learning abilities of the child should be assessed. The content should be such that it tests a student’s knowledge, abilities and creativity.

The above views of different speakers were highly appreciated but two major drawbacks were highlighted, one that ICT applications could not be used because of lack of power, and secondly, wherever they are provided, the people concerned are not inclined to adopt these.

On the basis of the views presented by different speakers, the following recommendations were evolved.

Standards for developing e-content

The participants agreed on benchmarking and to determine the threshold points for ICT based content that would further help in defining standards for quality content. The following set of recommendations has emerged out of the discussion:

1) Standards of contents are well defined in state curriculum. Content should be presented in such a way so as to empower, engage and excite the teachers; content should be rigorously aligned with the curriculum and should be easy to understand. Content should be developed after audience analysis, should be cross medium and available anytime, anywhere.

2) Learning outcome and objectives to be defined and evaluated. Evaluating the content will require validating /evaluating the technology. There needs to have a scope for research in development and delivery of content.

3) ICT based content has to be capable of being LAN enabled, suitable to be TV broadcast, suitable for ITV and other new and emerging technologies with a stereovision.

4) Content should be child/ student friendly, scalable, culture specific, flexible, empowering the teachers, based on Indian context, and cost effective. Digital contents shall be taken from the local surrounding, should be interactive. One computer to be made available to at least 20 teachers. There has to be localisation of the voice over of the content. There should be a definite link between community (parents), teachers, and students. Content should be made for rural population, be based on multiple intelligence and shall cater to all segments of students.

5) Content needs to be interoperable, there has to be some mechanism of interaction between teachers and student on the digital content.

6) Standards should be defined taking the slow learners and students with special needs into consideration; e g W3g content is compliant for people with disabilities.

7) Learning is complex process; therefore atomised learning outcome is not feasible. There is a need to focus on creating additional contents that would enable the teachers to engage with students and learning effectively.

8) Following the constructivist approach, digital content should, be absorbing and, engage students and teachers to create their own lesson plans.

9) Content should be an enabler in vocational education, open software should be available to be dubbed in regional language. Skill reinforcement should be reflected in the content and its usages.

10) Content should be made bilingual- a common language and regional language.

11) National Council of Teachers of Mathematics or International Society for Technology in Education can be referred to define standards for ICT based contents.

II         Assessment

1. Assessment needs to be evolved; therefore it should be continuous, frequent and comprehensive. Assessment should be as non-threatening as possible.

2. While determining the assessment standards, various innovative tools should be employed e.g. portfolio based assessment, self assessment, peer assessment, etc.

3. Assigning homework to the students is a critical part of learning. Therefore, learning and assessment need to be integrated. Additionally, there has to be a mechanism by which the students of different ability can be assessed equally/ at par with students with natural ability.

4. Assessment should check for concepts clarity, understanding, application and comprehension of the subjects and topics, etc.

5. Classification of the classes to be done followed by an assessment of the students, e g class for the gifted learners, average learners and slow learners, etc.

6. Assessment should be rubric based- formative, summative and diagnostic (student assessing himself/herself, teacher assessing student).

7. There is a need to create a question bank. Assessment tool can be created along side the content development. Further, contents can be divided into smaller units with lot of assessment components, which will help in building the content repository.

8. Assessment can be based on Learning Management System (LMS) – a) Parent and teacher centric; b) Child Centric. Parents and teachers can communicate through ICT tools instead of only face to face.

9. ICTs can be used for assessment of competencies and skills beyond schools and curriculum.

10. Employability skills assessment to be embedded into the contents. Indicators for assessment are to be based on skills. Assessment should be aligned with the competencies of the students. Assessment tool developed by state of Jharkhand is a good example.

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