ICT, also known as Information and Communication Technology, is the set of technologies that deal with providing access to information via telecommunication. Though it harbors similarity to Information Technology (IT), it emphasizes mainly on technologies related to communication. Presently, the ICT sphere envelopes the internet, cell phones, wireless networks, and other media of communication.
Foraying in the Sphere of Distance Education
Considering the potential it carries, stakeholders can also apply ICT to the sphere of distance education. For example, many HEIs (Higher Educational Institutions) dealing in distance education, have begun using the internet for providing their study programs to their far-off positioned students.
Students residing in various cities of various nations and the world over, pursue such HEIs. Therefore, one doesn’t hesitate in concluding, that these HEIs have used the internet as a tool for increasing the reach and quality of their study programs and provided improved learning experiences to their followers.
Some Exemplar Mentions
A fine example of the use of a mix of these IC technologies is the Virtual University of the Monterrey Institute of Technology located in Mexico. The University employs a mix of live, recorded, and print telecasts, along with the internet for delivering courses to its students all over Mexico and many other countries of Latin America.
Identically, the Virtual University of Africa, founded in 1997 with financial backings from World Bank, uses internet and satellite technologies. Thus, it furthers its purpose of providing distance learning to many French and English-speaking students, spread throughout Africa.
Equally, the University of the Philippines Open University also offers predominantly print-based course materials. Still, the online tutorials that it doles out, are replacing the face-to-face tutorials, proving their convenience.
These courses are a great comfort for students reluctant and unable to visit UPOU’s different brick and mortar learning centers. Nearly 70 to 90% of UPOU’s degree courses provide online tutorials as an alternative. Contrast this with the fact that many of UPOU’s non-degree courses offer ONLY online tutorials.
Similarly, in South Korea, which houses considerably, the world’s best infrastructure, is following the plans to revamp its educational system. Though challenges to its online mode of reform exist, the South Korean government is vigorously pushing up its financial and other resources for its goal, in the meantime.
Addressing the Front of Secondary Education
The stakeholders have also made efforts for the Internet- and Web-based learning at the level of secondary education. For example, a nationwide association of school districts in the United States, the Virtual High School, made efforts for promoting the formulation and spread of Web-based courses.
In Canada, the Open School provides a wide range of resources and courses to grades K-12 teachers and students. The only condition is that they should meet the needs of the curriculum of British Columbia. Delivery of the course is done through a mix of video and broadcast, whereas, some courses are delivered fully online.
And the Front of Commerce
Anyhow, one doesn’t find the biggest players of e-learning in the academe but in the private sector. John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, for instance, foretold that e-learning would be the next big killer application. That’s why firms are aggressively moving to meet this prediction. Similarly, Merrill Lynch estimated that the combined higher education and corporate e-learning markets in the US will witness a growth.
This growth can be from the US $2.3 billion presently, to the US $18 billion in 2021. Moreover, nearly 2/3rd of this growth attributes to corporate training. Indeed, the numbers of corporate universities in the U.S., have seen astounding growth over the last decade. Corporate universities are mainly in-house establishments in large multinational companies that use the Internet and video conferencing for employee training.
Further growth of this rate would amount to, the number of corporate universities exceeding those of the traditional brick and mortar universities. A development running parallel in business is the flourishing of a new breed of companies. These companies offer online training services to small- and medium-sized enterprises.
ICT in the Indian Higher Education Sphere
As far as the arena of India is concerned, the National Mission on Education is highlighting the use of ICT in growing the enrolment ratio in higher education. Already, school education in India grapples with an issue of high rates of dropouts. Consequently, we need to work on solutions to how to decrease this rate. Similarly, in the sphere of higher education, we need to promote the number of students.
Therefore, making our learning more interesting and engaging with the use of ICT is the need of the hour. Only then, consequently, it can completely transform working of our system of education. Also, we should study the issues of the availability of trained teachers. Similarly, we should also ponder over the cost-factor in the process of dissemination of education with the help of ICT.
On an Ending Note
Initiatives under the umbrella of ICTs, like using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for disseminating educative messages have gained conspicuousness. Quite more such measures need to be taken by the stakeholders of education- both private and government.
The onus lies more on the government, which already has begun delivering on her part, via the examples like the UGC guidelines on online education, 2018, to regulate the online higher education sphere. One hopes the tempo of the government in this sphere remains optimized for a long time to come!