Beyond audio – visual learning
This is just an example of how effective an audio visual learning tool can be. A powerpoint presentation is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to e-learning. Beyond this, e-learning is a method which delivers text, audio, visuals, videos, images, animation and much more via the electronic media, computers, information and communication technology and also internet based learning.
Scenario I: Taking a topic like kind of shots used in a frame in television or cinema with lecture method. Result: Children not able to visualise and consequently not able to answer if asked about the kind of shots. Scenario II: Taking the same topic with lecture method but substantiating with a powerpoint presentation comprising text, audio and visuals. Result: It is easier for students to explain in their words what a shot in a frame would look like.
India has seen many efforts as far as creating educational opportunities using satellite television is concerned. Television came to India in 1959 and after that India witnessed the dawn of programmes like Secondary School Television Project for Delhi Schools (1961) and Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (1966). In 1991 IGNOU and Doordarshan also collaborated for educational telecasts especially meant for long distance learners.
Then in the year 2000, IGNOU, Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Prasar Bharti collaborated to roll out Gyan Darshan, an educational channel for television. Since then e-learning has evolved, everyday incorporating many new technologies. EduSAT, a two way conferencing module and Gyanvani, a radio station being run by IGNOU, are a few more initiatives making education and distance education a reality.
As these developments continued in the field of television, the field of information technology also saw progressive steps e.g. National Task Force on Information Technology and Software Development was established in 1998 and in 1999 e-learning was taken a step ahead when IGNOU established a virtual campus. After this initiative many universities have started e-learning centres which are making distance education in various fields a reality. IGNOU has also established eGyan Kosh as an initiative to make the learning materials available online. A portal, Sakshat, an initiative by Government of India, is meant for education.
In addition to the national initiatives, many international universities are offering basic and advanced courses for many learners to be pursued online. It is only due to e-learning that world class education is being brought to the doorstep of learners.
Tools for E-Learning
So, e-learning is any learning which is supported by the use of technology; and, with so many technological advances in the field, it only takes creativity and innovation to identify the tools of e-learning.
Web Conferencing: Taking advantage of rising internet connectivity, this is ideal for distance learning.
Television: As demonstrated by various initiatives in the past, the television is something which still has a lot of unexplored potential. Taking into consideration that television combines the power of audio and visual, it can be the most effective medium for education.
Mobile Phones: The mobile phone has very quickly become a vehicle for advertising, so it can become a vehicle for education as well. Mobile phones are the most used handheld devices in India today.
Applications: To make more use of mobile phones, apps are one of the easiest methods. Even today app stores have many such apps which give an opportunity to learners to explore laws, general knowledge, etc.
Podcasts: Podcast is any audio file which is uploaded on the internet after someone (podcaster) has recorded the information. It can be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world having an internet connection.
Open Sources: Internet has been flooded with many open sources where academicians share their work and presentations for free.
Internet: Not to forget the internet, which makes functioning of many other tools possible. It not only makes pursuing online courses easy, but in general too, it is a great source of information.
Blogs: We can never forget blogging platforms, which have given many pens the power to reach to millions. This platform can be used for free to take information, education and awareness to millions at the same time.
Scenarios and Benefits of E-Learning
Group Learning: Students can use the tools of e-learning to create something together e.g. a presentation on powerpoint or a multimedia project using various basic and advanced software available. This not only helps them create something and learn their topics, but they also learn a skill by exploring a software, which could later on value add to their employability in any vocation they choose.
Paced at Convenience: E-learning material can be played over and over again until the learner perfects it. A learner does not have to worry that he/ she will not be able to learn at fast speed like his classmates.
Self Directional: In a conventional classroom all the students learn the same topic from a book. However, with the aid of e-learning students can choose to learn the same topic in a different way with different materials available on the topic.
This can give a different direction to each student’s learning, as every student can use the material and tool which can be easily accessed by them.
Availability: E-learning material can be easily accessed anytime at the convenience of the learner.
No Barriers: E-learning makes it possible that a learner in India can access quality education from another corner of the world.
With more and more advances in the field, a utopian scenario could be envisioned for the future.
It could be a time where such learning could completely replace books, consequently saving paper and saving trees. Of course, investing in such technology could be expensive, but it would be a onetime investment. It would mean that all Indians would be computer and technology literate and their education would be enhanced with skills which they would learn while accessing e-learning materials.
Problems and Issues
Before e-learning realises its full potential, there are some problems which need to be addressed. India has only the 5th largest telecom network in the world, which means there is still huge headroom for growth in the sector. Second, problem is literacy. In order to reach a stage where everyone can operate computers, a very important component of e-learning, a lot of education and training needs to be imparted, so that awareness about technology imparting education can be generated.
Priyanka Ohri says, ‘Having finished my schooling from Auckland House School, Shimla, I pursued my Masters in Mass Communication and Journalism. At present, I am teaching Mass Media Studies in St. Thomas’ School, Shimla. Teaching as a profession was discovered accidentally, but it is my second love after writing. There are two lessons that teaching has given me for a lifetime. First, to do what I love until I become perfect and second, you never know what you are capable of.’