Online Education for a Better Tomorrow

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While it may be true across the globe, one thing that we must emphasize in Bihar education is the need for getting the students and teachers online.

Bringing someone online is not just about providing a computer or a laptop with an internet connection. It's a whole lot of improved state of affairs that one needs to envisage by getting the teaching and student community on the talking terms on a daily basis across the state/country/world.

One of the impediments of today's education system is that of being obsolete as well as conventionally disconnected, to the extent that, students have to be highly dependent upon the physical presence of the teachers for solving their issues, at the location where they reside.

Few initiatives that I think could help overcome this issue and also make the state education a whole lot more interactive:

1. Link all the existing educational institutions across the state through WLAN. This can be done by first classifying the schools on parameters if they belong to Primary, Secondary, Higher Secondary, Higher Education, Vocational etc.

With this, you reduce the dependency on the school teachers who are limited by location. All these teachers can be provided with the necessary education on computer usage and can be provided laptops to be able to interact more with the kids.

One might think that all teachers may not have the inclination to do that but even if 15-20% could do that, it will be a great success and help the student community immensely. This would also help teachers teach through live meetings at schools where there is an acute shortage of qualified teachers. Not just that, one could rather tap some volunteers from colleges to teach the Primary or Secondary kids. It can be in their curriculum as well.

2. Provide schools with wide range of computer system and encourage computer loans to them over a 3-5 year duration that they are in higher education. This subsidy and long term loan terms can help students have their own laptops, besides the computer, that they are provided with during the day time within college. This would not only allow students to talk to other students from other colleges/schools but would also enable them to talk to teachers from other locations in the state. Each one must have a login ID to remove any doubt of abuse of the system.

3. Like an actual brick and mortar library, create an online library with a central server repository of all knowledge from all schools readily available for the students. This repository can be used and enhanced by the student community themselves on the line of Wikipedia.

Creating an online directory of such sort will not just help publish the articles to the rest of the world but would also help attract reviews and critique to make it even better. Projects of wider influence can be used for consultancy work by the colleges/universities and thus create a self- sustainability instead of depending upon state government funds for its functioning. It may take a while to develop this as a strategy but once there, there is a no looking back.

4. Create Social Outreach Programs mandatory as part of the student curriculum for students of all ages starting from the Primary level. Whatever they do as project of social relevance needs to be put into the repository. Once a project is done and implemented in one place, others can enhance it by making changes or implementing the same way in other parts.

Remember to make the projects more interactive instead of putting hundreds or thousands of textbook. This can also help create programs that are cross cultural with no geographical boundary thus not limited to a small location. District authorities can be provided a link to such projects to see if they can also benefit from some good ideas.

5. Online blogging and chat facility would not just help the students work more speedily on research ideas but also the ideation would take the minutest of time to spread across miles. This will help students engage lot more than what they today. Getting an able administrator to create statistical analysis could also help government find what generates the most interest among the students, what areas are they really finding difficult so they could get the right help. This can help the government focus on the needs in a more relevant way.

6. Creating a group of schools for mentoring students. A healthy mentor-students relationship will help drive the students towards achieving the desired results much effectively. There needs to be an autonomous body to see through the success of such programs. Virtual tours are a very effective tool to publicize one's project. Schools/colleges/universities can do this in a more effective way to create their own programs and making a virtual world full of knowledge.

Professionals like Abhayanand, Anand Kumar and many learned academicians today relentlessly help few thousands students through their Super 30 and other programs but with the above structure, they may be able to help lakhs of them. Dependency upon high fee-based private tuition may disappear over the next 4-5 years, if not immediately.

I would be more than happy to volunteer for such project with support from like minded people across Bihar residing in various parts of the state, India and the World, provided the government shows its inclination. It's the youth that will change the society of tomorrow. Tomorrow depends on what kind of education one gets today.

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