Wednesday, February 16, 2011

“Cost effective e-learning for public schools!!!!”

So far in the blog we have spoken about the advantages of e-learning to the young working middle class, about how we can leverage the use of social networking sites in e –learning and most important of all the role of content management systems and interface in an e-learning system. So a person needs to be able to afford atleast an internet connection and a computer to learn through the internet. E-learning service providers are thriving and currently are picked up like hot cakes by Venture capitalists. This is large evidence that e-learning has been a success among the upper middle class and the upper class.

In this context let’s analyse the Indian market
·         Estimated population in 2011 is 1 billion
·         72.2% are in villages
·         37% of the population is under the poverty line
·         Unemployment rate is 9.4%(2009-10)

This huge pool of underprivileged people needs education and e-learning can make this possible. From the company’s point of view this is a huge untapped market, from the government’s point of view this is the easiest way to rejuvenate the defunct and degraded public school system. C.K Prahalad’s vision of starting at the bottom of the pyramid and serving the rural and underprivileged as a business model can really come true and be a win win situation for all of us. So how can we do this? Do we have a model in place? Has any country that has done it before?

The one advantage of being a laggard is we can learn from other’s mistakes. Luckily as Indians we have Singapore which has converted its public schools to a teacher assisted e-learning model. The model seems simple and the knowledge of the experts from industry and other organisations is transferred to the students in villages by computers provided at their schools. Sounds simple, but it took them 12 years to perfect this model. Let’s get an overview of how this works
· The emphasis was on “Quality and effectiveness” of e –learning initiatives rather than content and LMSs. This makes perfect sense as the government’s aim is to improve literacy and do it in a fail-safe effective manner at first rather than creating perfect interfaces
· They formulated Key competencies that the student must be equipped with at the end of the e-learning course.
· They defined quality as “quality relates to obtaining the best learning achievements (50%).  Together with 'something that is excellent in performance' (19%), this primarily pedagogical understanding was more widespread than options related to best value for money or marketing[1]
· Effectiveness, rather than technology, is the key, and defining this is perhaps both the most difficult and important step in deciding how to invest in e-learning

So they came up with the following master plan to lay the foundation and build on the base for e-learning it had the following baby steps

·         Build the strong foundation for schools to harness ICT
·         Provide basic ICT infrastructure
·         Equip teachers with a basic level of ICT integration &  competency
·         363 schools had fundamental building blocks in place to use ICT in the curriculum
·         30% of ICT usage in curriculum 

People argue that Singapore is smaller than India’s smallest state, if with their tough laws and innovative policies took 12 years, for India it will take hundred. On a lighter note we may be slow and corrupt but with the latest exposes of the 2G scam, Radia Tapes, Devas deal, Commonwealth games, RIL’s insider trading and many more(the blog is just not to talk about scams) the politicians won’t be willing to take any more risk in a matter as serious as education this soonJ. The actual truth though is we have the technology in place and the ability to analyse and perfect the whole process of Singapore’s online education system. The very first issue to address in India though is to create content in various languages. E-learning firms and government can work hand in hand and make this initiative a success. A literate India is another thing that we could all be proud of as Indians.

[1] Quality in e-Learning – use and dissemination of quality approaches in European e-Learning
[2] Report of 7th International E-Learning Conference for a Knowledge-Based Society Srisakdi Charmonman IT Center

1 comment:

  1. Very useful article personally the thing which i like most about online learning is its low cost anyone can easily afford it.