Educational technology in India

Overview of Educational technology in India

Educational technology in India is very good. Like any other country, the educational technology movement in India started with audiovisual aids, and teacher training institutions significantly stressed on effective use of even chalk and blackboard and later the overhead projector (OHP; see Kumar, 1996; Kulkarni, 1986). Even the beginning of the Centre for Educational Technology (renamed as the Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET) of NCERT started as the audiovisual department of the government. So much so, the NCERT 2006 position paper of it’s National Focus Group (NCERT, 2006) even underlined that the stress on individualized learning in the old gurukul system can be considered as a feature of educational technology. It also notes that alternative educational technologies/instructional strategies were adopted by innovative schooling projects in the voluntary sectors such as projects on early childhood education by Badheka and Modak, Tiloniaprogramme in Rajasthan, Kishore Bharti/Eklavya project in Hosangabad (M.P.), Gram Mangal in Maharashtra, Bhandup and Avehi-Abacus projects of Mumbai municipal schools, among others.

Educational technology in India

The shift from the audiovisual movement to the programmed learning movement (and, therefore, development of programmed learning materials – which later on led to the development of training resources and self-learning materials in various sectors including distance learning) was led by Basu and Kulkarni at NCERT. That was a significant development since the audiovisual (and later the media and technology) movement needed to be balanced with the development and use of learning resources, and planning for teaching-learning guided by learning/educational objectives and mastery learning (you may like to refer to the minimum levels of learning – MLL – of NCERT).

Television came to India in 1959 as a pilot project financially supported by the Ford Foundation, and the Delhi School Television programme was initiated on October 24, 1961. However, the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in 1975-76 was the first interactive TV experiment which combined education with community participation and development. In 1974, the union government created an ET unit in the Education Ministry, the Centre for Educational Technology (CET) at NCERT, and ET cells in six site states. In 1980, when INSAT (Indian National Satellite) was launched, the government Doordarshan (national television) took over production and especially telecast of educational television programmes. The CIET of NCERT later started educational television programmes for school children and for primary teachers in the eighties. The GoI in collaboration with UNDP and UNESCO started INSAT for Education project; simultaneously an ET Division was established at the Ministry; the CET of NCERT was merged with its Department of Teaching Aids to be renamed as CIET, and many ET cells of state governments were also renamed as State Institutes of Educational Technology. Classroom 2000+ experiment on interactive conferencing was conducted by CIET the results of which though could not be implemented widely thereafter. However, concurrently, the GoI undertook a scheme of distributing radio-cum-cassette players (about 228,118) and color TV sets (about 31,129) and using those in various schools in the country, though, the scheme also failed to integrate media and technology with classroom teaching-learning (Mukhopadhyay, et. al. 1993).

In so far as the computer is concerned, its experiment and use in classrooms date back to 1984 when the CLASS (computer literature and studies) project was started as a joint venture of the Department of Electronics (DoE), GoI and NCERT. Microcomputers provided by the BBC were supplied to 2582 schools and 42 resource centers. The experiment concluded not-so-effective use of microcomputers in teaching due largely to the gap between teacher orientation and actual use, installation and other problems, and lack of sufficient training. Attitude to technology was also another factor. The revised CLASS was revived during 1993-2004 with new PCs, followed by CLASS 2000 in which the government had to introduce computer literacy in 10,000 schools and computer-based learning in 100 smart schools. The experience of NCERT showed that IT was not integrated into teaching-learning, rather was used as add on; and also that lack of significant policy and committed practice led to its negligence by the teachers. Subsequently, there have been a few experiments like IIT (D)-NIIT experiment on ‘Hole in the Wall’ computer literacy project, a 1-month summer course for Class V students by TeNet group of IIT (Madras), among others. A large number of urban schools today use a number of interactive multimedia CD-ROMs in the classroom, along with ETV and web resources. The use of interactive multimedia CD-ROMs on hard spots and computers was enhanced under the Computer Based Elementary Education (CBEE) of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in schools in various states under a PublicPrivate-Partnership (PPP) model in collaboration with private IT companies, government organization, and NGOs.

In the case of higher education, after the successful launch of INSAT-1B, the UGC initiated the UGC-INSAT Television Project (known as Countrywide Classroom-CWCR) on August 15, 1984, to produce and broadcast enrichment programmes on weekdays for one hour to undergraduate college students, coordinated by the Mass Communicating Cell (now Consortium for Educational Communication) of UGC, and produced by four Educational Media Research Centres and two Audio Visual Research Centres in Universities. The Mass Communication Research Centre of Jamia Millia Islamia (now a central university) was to conduct R&D besides also producing television programmes to the related undergraduate curriculum (Panda, 1995). Later the enrichment programmes were replaced by curriculum-based video lectures which were broadcast as are also available at a price in the market. The UGC provided television sets and VCRs to (selected) colleges under various Five-Year Plans. Many universities today both teachers and students have access the to internet and web resources, online journals and books, access to the literature base of INFLIBNET, and the digital curriculum-based printed modules under the Sakshat project of MHRD, GoI and the online video repository in engineering and technology of NPTEL (of IITs). Almost all IITs, the IIMs, the IISc, Jadavpur University, among others have developed online learning management systems (LMS) for online teaching-learning as also multimedia-based interaction through the institutional network. Some also do webcasting of their teleconferencing lectures.

The use of media and technology got a wider platform after the initiation of correspondence education both at the school level and in higher education. Besides audio and video, and radio (Gyan Vani) and television (GyanDarshan), the distance teaching institutions including the open universities and open schools also use teleconferencing, webcasting, and online platforms, IGNOU, besides all these, uses interactive radio counseling (IRC) through its FM radio stations, mobile technology for learner support, online lecturing/presentation through Adobe Connect, an online resource repository of digital print modules, audio and video programmes (as Open Education Resource) through its eGyankosh. The Open School system, especially the National Institute of Open Schooling, uses audio and video, radio and television, teleconferencing for teaching-learning. Besides, there is online admission and on-demand online examination. Parallel to these media and technology deployment and use in all levels of open and distance learning, there is constantly updating and diversification in course design and development models, and different styles of self-learning materials in print, audio-video, multimedia, and online LMS.

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