Computer education for a digital India

Just think of the famous commercial which states, with the advent of mobile internet (of course of a particular service provider) India is no longer going to be fooled. Exaggerated it may sounds, but in today’s world a normal human being, is surrounded by hundreds of computer related applications, literally like “Abhimunyu” within “chkrabuhya.(enough to make you crazy if you don’t know computer). That’s why one of my colleagues once jokingly remarked that if you don’t have any computer knowledge, you are going to be rubbished.
In the last two or three decades, computer and ICT (information and communication technology) has revolutionized the way we work, the way we think and even the way we breathe. Almost all spheres of our life are encompassed by some applications of computer. Consider some of these applications-
1. Modeling-right from designing a logo to creation of a 3-D model of a house, computer can work wonder at the stroke of a mouse. Calculating a cost effective way for optimum profit and production, to making school projects, applications are versatile.
2. Communication-chatting with my friend via world wide spidery web spun through satellites and optical cables to lightning communications through e-mail, computers have opened new horizons in communication aspect- a giant leap forward from snail mail era.
3. E commerce-using the internet platform for buying and selling at the click of a mouse is all set to change the traditional business concept.
4. Information-gone are the days, when we have to go through an entire library of references in order to find some information. Now internet has made it possible to have the best possible information in a whisker. So much so, that legendary Encyclopedia Britannica has scrapped their book edition to resort to CD-ROM edition and for update through internet.
5. Office management-computer has literally revolutionized this sector. Even traditional functions like booking a railway ticket or storing the record of a patient in a hospital has become hitch less with the advent of a computer. With a single click detailed records of every computerized database (say that of property tax of a particular holding) are available, which earlier would have taken a long battle with files and ledgers to trace out.
6. E governance- Information and communication technology (ICT) has the potential for efficient service delivery to citizens across the state with transparency, communicating with citizens in respect of their participation in governance, streamlining the business in responsive governance with strong institutional back up.
Service deliveries to citizens in areas like land related matters, death and birth certificates, taxation; trade and commerce related areas are now a child’s game using ICT.
Now, a small trader to a travel agent can run their business in a more purposeful and integrated way-thanks to computer application software.
Not only ICT in today’s context is essential to be fittest for the struggle of existence, but also education for generation Y has made epoch making approach with modern advancement of computer applications. It is no longer “chalk and talk” process, but a combination of information, education and communication (IEC).some of the benefits of computers in classroom are-
1. Information storage-large chunk of data finds its way in a mini USB drive. A 500GB hard disk drive is sufficient to store all the books of Library of Congress, the U.S.A. notes, answers, presentations, projects all just can be compiled and then can be stored into a hard disk. Students and teacher alike can get benefited from judicious use of computer. Data saved are more durable due to electronic format. Also, electronically erasable memory makes data storage capacity robust and recoverable.
2. Futuristic teaching aid- one old Chinese proverb says-‘I read and I forget. I perform and I remember.” a tiring topic like “influence of Latin on English literature”, can be made very lucid if explained through presentation software like PowerPoint or animation software like Flash. Computer aided teaching is a fun way to learn today, it facilitates the interaction between teacher and student. with animation and audio visual representations dead monarchs of history comes alive, hard grammar suddenly has a note of music added to it, difficult mathematics comes out to be a cake work. With colour, sound and movement- a different perspective is added to the same old boring geography or civics or education or any subject of study. Explanation is better and remembrance is easier.
3. Internet- with internet, data can be accessed on almost all the topics with minute details. “Easier to access and easier to store”-you are not going to be fooled any more. For reference and better understanding of the subject this vast database can be used by teacher and student alike. Teachers can set papers, frame questions and students can make better project report with the bliss of computer.
4. Distance learning-in a vast country like India, internet enabled classroom teaching can only bridge the barrier of distance and status. Student from a hamlet can now access the teaching of same faculty, as in metro cities. Thanks to video conferencing, these classes are no loner a one way traffic, student and teacher can communicate with each other now. Many distant learning technical and mainstream courses are there, which helps students to learn at their convenient timings.

The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) two and three- are about achieving universal primary education and promoting gender equality. Despite Government’s constant endeavour in this direction through schemes like mid day meal, Sarba Sikha Abhiyan etc, the drop out ratio in India at primary level (class i to vii) is as alarming as 46%, wheras in secondary level (class ix to x) it is 60%, as against enrollment rate of 53 %( 2006-07 data). There are many obstacles in respect of pedagogical, curricular and institutional but to reach out to a large number of students, ICT use in distance education mode is a fantastic tool. Although the upfront investment is far greater than traditional teaching, but the recurring costs are minimal in comparison to traditional teaching. Through this method of teaching, new vocational avenues can also be opened to interested students.
Indian government has launched initiatives such as “Vidya vahini” and “Gyan bahini” to facilitate connectivity across schools and building up ITC infrastructure in higher studies institutes respectively. “Sankhya vahini” another initiative of Indian telecom is all set to connect 100 universities, school, colleges and corporate establishments.
A study conducted by the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) indicated that 80 percent of its participants felt more aware and empowered by their exposure to ICT in education, and 60 percent stated that the process of teaching as well as learning were directly and positively affected by the use of ICT.
Computer education has potential to enhance the options, access, participation and achievement of all students. Backward, marginalized and gender specific groups can greatly benefit from ICT, especially those who hail from remote rural areas, have special learning needs, are specially abled and so on.
However, the high student teacher ratio in Indian schools coupled with insufficiency of infrastructure for ICT, high drop out rate of female students for lack of basic amenities like latrine, high drop out rate of children for earning of wage etc. raise a question mark on effective implementation of computer education to all strata of Indian society. It is argued that computer education has the potential danger for widening the gap between haves and have-nots.
But we must remember ICT is only a tool for effective implementation of education and success of the same depends on policy initiatives of the government not some cosmetic measures like distribution of some tablets to vulnerable section or making some remote villages internet hot spots.
Computer can cause wonder at the hand of a judicious and creative mind. It is a very good soldier who can win you a loosing battle, but a bad general who can give you reverse outcome. It’s never to be forgotten that the intelligent quotient (I.Q) of computer is zero. So the golden rule is -never make computer the driver, always you drive and use computer as your steering.
Today computer has a deep impact on not only educational sector, but it embraces every sphere of our life. This underlines the importance of computer education. Computer is a propelling force of career, given it’s penetration in all the segments of industry today. We have already discussed both about the extensive fields and the way computer can make learning a fun. So, strike the iron when it’s hot, introduce computer early in education. It is as essential as mainstream education. Learning English and learning computer-can be put under the same bracket.
As prologue of this essay, I must confess that in order to write I gathered information from the Google search, typed the essay in my old laptop and then just e mailed it to submit. Without my knowledge of computer, will it ever be that easy?
Life is just like that.

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