Education and Technology

Given the rapid and phenomenal advances in technology – especially in communications and media – one’s natural expectation would be that the field of education would gratefully grasp these advances and make rapid strides to improving how education is imagined and delivered to the millions of students in our country.

But one’s expectations would be belied! We are a country that loves technology for its own sake – and not one that seeks to apply it for the betterment of its citizens. Take our roads and the way in which our garbage gets cleared in our cities and towns. It is hard to believe that we cannot do better than build roads that disintegrate in one season or less and that we continue to allow citizens to dump garbage at street corners to be picked up with bare hands by workers toiling to keep the streets clean. Granted that these are not simple technology issues because they are intertwined with the politics of our country and the way our civic amenity systems work. Nevertheless, it still amazes me that with all the smart people we have in our country, these systems continue to languish in medieval era styles of doing work.

My point with this post is that the area of education is no different.  The system that delivers some of the finest minds this country produces, is tradition bound and shackled by obsolete content, ideas and methods.  I do not think schools use the Internet as a teaching tool as much as it could be. We have mostly shied away from using digital tools in our classrooms and continue to reinforce rote-learning, mechanical reproduction of answers and a blinkered approach to learning characterized by confining oneself to accepting information without confirmation and self validation.  Course syllabuses do not reflect contemporary ideas, and so students often have to learn ‘what is really needed’ after they leave school.

Change is impossible without pioneering efforts to introduce new models of teaching and to the using of new tools enabled by the new technologies of today. This requires a willingness to experiment and to discover new possibilities in this space. As with every other arena of life, there must be a commitment and a desire to improve how we teach our children. Otherwise, all technology development and all research and discovery will never reflect their full potential on society.

About Vijaya Raghavan

Vijaya Raghavan has been a part of the technology industry in India for the last 25 years. He was part of the initial teams at Texas Instruments and IBM India and has worked on CAD systems for VLSI Engineering and on applications for Windows, OS/2 and Unix. In a management capacity, he has built and led engineering teams working on object-relational systems, text search, e-commerce systems, network security and various other Internet applications. He is the co-author of an engineering patent in network analysis. His corporate career apart, he has been an entrepreneur in Internet retail in which he successfully built and ran an online book-store for some time. He now consults on new technologies and as an out-sourced CTO to corporations that require advice in the acquisition and management of new capabilities.
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One Response to Education and Technology

  1. There is always inertia for change in every society.
    The force required to make a change varies, and depends on many socio-economic factors.
    Even in USA, punch card system was used for voting when the Nation boasts on technology advancement and its use in all walks of life.
    The issues being faced by India has multitude of dimensions hence in my opinion providing quality education is one of them. And, I believe, the only differentiating factor would be the attitude towards the problem!

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