Monday, September 1, 2008

Indian education

This post is written by Viplav Baxi.

In my first post on eCube (thanks, Manish for having me here!), I felt I must take the opportunity to share some interesting reading on Indian Education (specifically science education). I will reproduce certain excerpts from two sources - one, a Position Paper by the National Focus Group on Teaching of Science that was published by NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) in 2006, and two, a section from George Siemens' January, 2008 article presented to ITForum. First the excerpt from the position paper.
First, we must use science curriculum as an instrument of social change to reduce the divide related to economic class, gender, caste, religion and region. We must use the textbook as one of the primary instruments for equity, since for a great majority of school going children, as also for their teachers, it is the only accessible and affordable resource for education. We must encourage alternative textbook writing in the country within the broad guidelines of the national curriculum framework. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is also an important tool for bridging the social divides. ICT should be used in such a way that it becomes an opportunity equalizer, by providing information, communication and computing resources in remote areas.

...ICT as a tool should be used with care so that it serves to bridge the social divide and equalize opportunity; inappropriate and insensitive use may as easily widen the divide.

The second excerpt is from Learning and Knowing in Networks: Changing roles for Educators and Designers by George Siemens (2008). He is talking about various metaphors of the educator - such as the educator as a master artist, as a network administrator, as a concierge and as a curator.
What Becomes of the Instructional Designer?

The previous consideration of metaphors of educators was largely conceptual. While equally conceptual, the roles of instructional designers flow from changes to teaching and learning. Availability of open education resources, increased complexity of technology choices, and ongoing dialogue on different pedagogical models all place substantial pressure on the educator. It is not realistic to expect subject matter experts to be well?versed in different technologies, pedagogies, and open content sources. The critical role of the instructional designer is to be an educator to educators. The four metaphors provided above are equally valid for instructional designers as they work with faculty, designers, and technical staff.  Translating the numerous open education resource sites, communication tools, collaborative content filtering and creation options, and learning networks into language understood by educators form the core tasks of instructional designers. The numerous activities of traditional instructional design (context evaluation, content sequencing, fostering interaction, etc.) will continue to be important, but additional emphasis will need to be placed on addressing knowledge as existing in networks and learning as developing and forming diverse, multi-faceted networks

I was struck by the immediate contrasts and challenges between what we have here in India, and perhaps most of the developing countries, and what we have at the cutting edge of learning in the developed world. And I would love to hear from all of you what your perceptions are!


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