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Internet in Education: Importance & Potential

Internet EducationIt is not without reason that most Indian students refer to ‘Google Baba’ for all their queries, doubts and problems. The popular search engines like Google and Yahoo offer us instant access to a vast kingdom of knowledge and wisdom – a feat that seemed like science fiction stuff just a few decades ago.

Internet in Education has been incredibly useful as it facilitates both information and communication. The Internet has increased the accessibility of education at all levels and has turned out to be a giant repository of knowledge. Students can access free video lectures online and refer to encyclopedias and study material in multimedia formats; teachers can make their lessons interesting by incorporating online-based projects in their study plans; and educational institutions can reach out to a wider audience by offering quality online courses. Internet also acts as a platform for retired teachers to reach out children in poor countries and educate them.

Here are some of the ways in which Internet has a positive impact on Education:

Study & Research

Study & researchInternet is not only a great place to gather and store information but also allows its easy retrieval whenever desired. In fact, it has turned out to be better than libraries when it comes to gathering information and doing research work.

Online encyclopedias and variety of other resources allow students to study any desired topic in much greater detail. Teachers too suggest students to refer to specific websites at home for topics being covered in class.

MHRD and IGNOU have also developed Sakshat Portal on the lines of MIT OCW as a digital repository of eBooks, study material and eJournals for students. IGNOU’s eGyankosh is another digital repository of learning material.

Student-Teacher Interaction & Peer Interaction

Student-Teacher InteractionInternet has allowed students to be in touch with their teachers or fellow students 24X7. Earlier, when students used to miss a lecture or forgot to do their homework or needed help with their assignments, they could only get help in next class or when they met their peers or teachers. Now, with a number of chat apps, social media, emails and a lot of other communication facilities, they can interact with their classmates or teachers all the time.

They can use planners to remind them about their homework and assignments, allow them to seek clarifications from teachers at any given moment, and can do team projects online without having to stay after class. Online study groups allow you to hold discussions on a particular subject and share information with each other too.

Flexibility of Online Learning

Online learningOnline-based distance education courses or online learning classes allow much more flexibility than traditional classroom courses. You can learn online from anywhere you want and take up any subject or join any course you want, irrespective of your age or eligibility.

It also overcomes the mobility factor for students who live in remote areas.

For working people or stay-at-home women who often have to multi-task can use the facility to access video lectures and notes of their online classes at their own convenience. In this way, they do not have to miss classes.

Flexible education curriculum on the Internet also allows students to learn at their own pace. It means that if someone is a fast learner, he or she can whiz through the curriculum while a slow learner can take his or her time to repeat the classes as many times as they want until they understand a particular concept.

Students can also use Internet as their 24X7 support system. Besides contacting their teachers whenever they want, they can also post questions in forums or use hordes of ‘instant query’ features to get help on any topic in the world whenever they want.

Parent-Teacher Interaction

Teacher interactionEarlier, it used to be just parent-teacher meet where the biggest two pillars of students’ lives got rare opportunities to speak to each other. In such cases too, shortage of time was acutely felt by both the parties. Internet now allows teachers to keep parents and guardians clued-up about their children’s performance in class on a regular basis and makes way for parents or teachers to contact each other to come up with better ways to handle their individual problems.

Easy Accessibility of Quality Education

Easy AccessibilityMassive Open Online Courses (MOOC) or free video lectures (with or without notes) are being offered by several Ivy League universities these days like Harvard University, Yale University and Stanford University. A number of IIMs and IITs too are now collaborating with top foreign universities to offer free online courses to anybody who is interested in them. This makes quality education more accessible to students who do not have enough money to do these courses otherwise. ‘Granny Cloud’ app uses Skype to help retired teachers and other volunteers to reach out to poor children in India and teach them how to read.

People who are busy and cannot take time off their schedules to join regular classes can greatly benefit from online learning. It is also a great choice for physically handicapped, linguistically challenged students and those who are just too shy. Online courses are also a great way to study from a university in a different country or join institutes that are (for various reasons) inaccessible to you for free or at very low cost.

India’s much-hyped e-learning project NPTEL (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning) offers 112 video courses and 116 web courses on undergraduate engineering which are managed by the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IISc (Indian Institute of Science) Bangalore. Similarly, IIMs, XLRI and IIFT are also offering their MBA programs online through companies like HughesNet, Reliance Infocom and now NIIT Imperia. In these cases, satellite-based video technology beams live lectures to students at designated centres and allow collaboration between students and faculty. Students are given assignments and reading material too.

ISRO provided technological support to link the 4 campuses of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in South India. Virtual university of BITS Pilani also offers online courses for working professionals. Jadavpur University offers inter-disciplinary ‘Masters in Multimedia Development’ as a distance cum web-based course with the help of CDAC Kolkata and CMC. Many other universities in India are also coming up with similar web-based courses to target a wider audience.

Cost-Effective & Affordable Education

AffordableSourcing research material used to be quite expensive and tedious until some years ago. Now, you have dictionaries, thesaurus, web encyclopaedias, content-rich websites, and YouTube on your fingertips. If someone is keen to learn, he or she can learn anything on net these days – from engineering to fitness mantras to space science. Online courses are usually much cheaper than regular courses of a university as they need less investment and human intervention. All you need is perseverance and interest.

Allows Faster Update of Information

QualityInternet is much faster than traditional education mediums. It also costs less relatively and easy to access. It is not only a huge storehouse of knowledge and happenings in the world but also allows us to update or modify information whenever we want and as many time as we want. This allows us to present information in new innovative ways for better understanding of readers.

Interactive Digital Media

Interactive Digital MediaNew-age communication styles have made education more sophisticated and learning more efficient and easier. Educational institutes and other learning centers find the following digital media features incredibly useful:

  • Alumni & Donor Recognition: Top universities and educational institutes in India and abroad like come up with creative means to recognise the achievements of their alumni and contributions of their donors. Appreciation and recognition not only make alumni and donors happy but also shows how an institution evolved over a time period.

  • Broadcasting Important Announcements & Alerts: Important announcements can be broadcasted on websites and student forums using Internet. In case of an emergency, Internet and digital gadgets allow you to pass off instant alerts and warnings as quietly as possible. We see terrorist attacks on schools in news; in such an eventuality, news of such an attack can be quietly passed off throughout the campus using digital gadgets.

  • Bulletin Boards: Digital bulletin boards save paper and allow you to display videos and audios to attract attention of students.

  • Digital Signs & Web Portals replace Posters: In school and college life, we used posters to inform students about services and facilities available to them, societal issues, academic or extracurricular initiatives being taken by school, and annual or cultural events being organized from time to time. Once the relevance was over, these posters got thrown away. Now, school and college websites and digital signs on campus have become a better and greener alternative for all such purposes.

  • Maps for Navigation: Universities and institutes with huge campuses can put up 3D maps for new students and visitors to help them navigate them better. One can access complex mapping systems and concierge services online to find a route to a particular class without much problem.

News Streaming

Internet is the fastest medium for news dispersal. Students learning politics, science or any other subject can go through the latest related news on net. They can access Current Affairs anytime and from anywhere they want as well as have access to detailed and accurate versions of speeches, biographies and historical events too.

Teaching & Learning with Multimedia

multimediaResearchers have proved that seeing something is much better than rote learning to gain actual knowledge about a subject.

With the help of multimedia, the World Wide Web offers you enough visual data in terms of images, photos, graphics, slideshows, animations, videos and documentaries. Hence, you can see rare bird species, how volcanic eruption works, and planets and solar system evolve and degenerate – all on the net.

 

Education World Made Easy

Education World Made Easy

Internet not only helps you to learn and teach better but also helps you with:
  • finding your career interests,

  • look for online courses or exams you can take,

  • look for prospective educational institutes offering courses you might be interested in,

  • check your exam results,

  • seek other people’s advice on what you can do in a particular situation, and

  • Search for job prospects and further education opportunities.

Internet does much more than knowledge dissemination in the field of Education. It opens up a Sea of Knowledge for you. You just have to dip and sip as much as you want.

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