The political resolution to the prevailing apartheid in education remains reducible to a relevant extent since India is undergoing digital revolution. Projecting Internet as a liberated ideal has acquired much popularity in this respect. Internet has no caste, gender, race, region, communal consciousness, and ‘linguistic extremism’ while thinking about learning and educational scenario. This makes educational efforts embedded in social media platforms an ideal for bringing about both quantitative and qualitative changes in higher education scenario in India.
Education 2.0 is sanguinity for the hierarchical and stigmatised Indian society where access to education, at various levels, remains remote destination. In fact, the viability of Web 2.0 for framing Classroom 2.0, Teachers 2.0 and Students 2.0 that all make possible an Education 2.0 in the Indian context has inspired many people that are at the fringes. Reports are on the air from western world that Universities and educational institutions are taking benefit out of social media platforms for educational purposes.
This necessitates uncovering the common threads that connective spaces configure a higher education 2.0 in the contemporary digital landscape in India. Education 2.0 labels the technological developments especially connective platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and blogs empowering teaching and learning processes. User generated contents can be accessible anytime and anywhere through check, share, tweet, comment, post and upload tools.
Certainly, my friends, your friends and their friends make easy collaboration and dissemination of information to widest possible networks of people anytime without barriers such as money, time, geography, and social structure. Indeed, the interactivity motivates learners to expand knowledge through further exploration and collaboration.
The political significance of social media lies in the visible social stratification and structural constrains seen in the tradition-bound Indian society. Social media acquires political relevance to education in respect of rigid social structure that hampers mobility such as gender, geography, caste. It also holds political importance in respect of qualitative aspects such as access, quality, cost, time, and parity, which conventionally remains challenge to policy makers, government and stakeholders.
Historically, education has been inaccessible to scores of social groups in India. Moreover, education has been literally elitist since it has afforded by higher caste in the social hierarchy. Ever since Independence, there were attempts to bring down education to every doorstep transcending all kinds of structural barriers. To achieve this cherished goals visualised in the national freedom struggle, the Constitution and many subsequent statutory enactments, we had embraced special provisions and reservations for people at the social frontiers.
Various study reports by a fleet of commissions and researches highlighted problems facing Indian education system. Serious evaluation carried out by the committees and independent academicians have highlighted the crisis confronting the system. Educated unemployment, increasing turbulence on the campuses, over-production of educated people, declining student motivation, deterioration of standards, recurrent fall down of administration, and more importantly, the demoralising effect of what done in the name of education. While the political class and policy framers have often out spoken about the need for radical renovation of the system, only moderate reformism has been tracing over the years.
Growing younger population and providing them, education to meet the human resources requirement acquires a political solution. However, education remains unattainable for a large section among them. Women, tribes, minorities and dalit are still out of most efforts on inclusive education. Besides this, barriers to education such as quality, access, and cost are still lingering the prospects of good education to many sections.
Any educational practice that considers the expressive, playful, reflective or exploratory aspects of knowledge building is likely to find web 2.0 tools as strength. Web 2.0 influences four principal dimensions of the learner’s experience. Two are broadly social in nature collaboration and publication. The other two are more cognitive literacies and inquiry; proves many studies.
The term ‘education 2.0’ refers to a range of integrated online tools that can be either Internet-based or networked. These interactive tools can include web pages, email, message boards, text and video conferencing. It is necessary to understand what exactly Education 2.0 look like and what constitute such an innovative educational practice. The coming days will be the days of Education 2.0 and it will have all the components of Classroom 2.0, Students 2.0 and Teachers 2.0.
Indeed, many educationalists believe that universities are in a good position to utilize social media practices to support the collective creation of knowledge amongst students and the wider community. Many universities are now striving to develop ways of using social media to support these new forms of learning. Leading Universities have their classrooms on YouTube. See, YouTube pages of universities such as MIT, Yale University, Harvard Kennedy School , Princeton University), Columbia University, Stanford University.
Leading western universities have found using social media for extending its classroom and learning process through networking. The courses and classroom settings of such Universities are also available at the Streaming Videos. Harvard University has their classroom and curricular aspects on Web 2.0. See, Posterous, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes, Twitter Foursquare , Social Media Group.
Education 2.0: Reflections on the Indian Scenario
Internet and social media, and other ICT practices have greater potential in breaking time and distance barriers to facilitating collaboration and knowledge sharing among geographically distributed students in India. There are various kinds of ICT applications and Internet platforms holding relevance to education, such as email, teleconferencing, audio conferencing, radio broadcasts, interactive voice response system, television lessons, audio cassettes, CD ROMs and interactive radio counseling.They have been using in education for different purposes in different parts of India.
Web 2.0 platforms for higher education collaboration and networking are popular in India since the Internet penetration increases. A study by Suil Tyagi (2012) in National Capital Territory of India about the use of social media among faculties found that despite many fears and challenges, user generated content hold greater significance to a stratified society like India. Social media acquires greater role in quality enhancement in India. It brings down quality disparity between rural and urban India.
See, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) uses radio, television, and Internet technologies. For instances; Subscribe E-Resources, IGNOU Homepage, Virtual Classrooms , IGNOU Online, IGNOU Wiki.
Using Internet and television, the Government adopted National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (2007) (NPTEL): a concept similar to the open courseware initiative of MIT and is an initiative of seven IITs and IISc for creating E-contents. It hosts a YouTube Channel having 157,716 subscribers and 87,734,135 video views, a Facebook page etc.
Eklavya initiative; has been Using Internet and television channels to promote distance learning. See, EKLAVYA Technology Channel India 2007. It is a distant learning joint initiative between the IIT and IGNOU. It hosts a Facebook page.
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are frequently deployed Web 2.0 platforms of premier institutes in India, specifically IITs, IIMs and NITs. For instances; IIT Gandhinagar, has Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages. IIM Calcutta has been managing YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin pages.
Libraries too have developed collaborating and publishing platforms in social media sites.)
A library blog has been created to keep update the students, faculty and other staff members of BUEST, (Baddi University of Emerging Sciences and Technology). Hundreds of Colleges and their teaching Departments have plenty of platforms for different kinds of users to collaborate and network and to constitute a twenty-four hour classroom learning experiences. See the blog page of Department of Economics, University College, Thiruvananthapuram, in Kerala and it has thirty-one followers as on 21-04-2013.
Seminar, symposium, workshop and academic events have been updating through social media sites. Blogs are intensely popular to network and inform. See for instances, Blogger titled The Social Science Informer. Admission to various colleges are notified by specific blogs, see for instances, ‘Admissions to various Courses in India’, i.e., a blog that collaborate and network for latest admission notification to various courses in India, offered by Universities, Colleges and other higher education Institutions in India.
In addition, M-learning has begun to sweep Indian educational scenario. Mobile devices including PDA, handheld tablets, mobile phones, smart phones and Symbian are popular for teaching-learning purposes. It makes education portable, impulsive, efficient and thrilling. By this, student are able to record the lectures, multimedia materials, provide feedback, read E-books, access Internet and practical exercises and use software for educational activities; says a study by Mitra and Ganguly.
The government of Rajasthan is attempting extensive infrastructure building for Information and Communication Technology in Education 2.0. The State's Information Technology Department plans to launch its own education social network like YouTube, Facebook for learning.
Educational institutions such as HLC International, St Patrick's School, Chennai Public School (CPS) and Rosary Matriculation Higher Secondary School are using sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Ustream to interact with students, parents, alumni and well-wishers, says a Times of India report (Kamini Mathai 22 Aug, 2011, Times of India). Portals such as Studyplaces.com and Tutorvista are functioning as information exchanges for students. Web portals such as 100percentile.com provide online examinations. The mathguru.com offers solved questions on the CBSE Mathematics curriculum, Says Lokesh Mehra, of Cisco.
India benefits much from the Internet and social media platforms since they hold greater promise to cut across a plenty of variables that historically turned hostile towards the educational opportunities of a very large portion of its population. In this context, focus is moving on to four identified social media platforms. These platforms are critical in the context of India. These platforms can claim significant stake in the higher education space in India.
The Higher Education 2.0 beseems realisable in the Indian context by a wider application of the following social media platforms. They are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Blogs and they hold significant influence on creating Education 2.0 in Indian context.
Fostering networks and communities is an essential element of a learning platform. It has been recognising for some time that principals, teachers, students and parents can connect and form communities organised around relationships and ideas. Through an online community, members can reflect, comment, and contribute to conversations, equally. The conversations become ‘learning activities’ that can involve ‘experts’, as well as all members of the community.
The need for communication tools in the learning process has often underestimated by educators in India. Especially those who feel comfortable with the traditional, instructive ways of teaching should come of age. More recently, an increasing number of learning environments have been transforming into digital forms in higher education scenario. This is a hope and perhaps our educators would realise the significance of platforms.
Education 2.0: Teachers 2.0, Students 2.0, Classroom 2.0.
Classroom 2.0, Students 2.0 and Teachers 2.0 are important advancements in the Education 2.0 Initiatives.Comment, check, share, like, tweet, update, follow, post, upload, etc., have been instrumental in stirring change and effecting communication in the educational scenario. Educators are now moving on to Web 2.0. They are drawing upon their ability to help in collaborating, creating and sharing content. Teachers and Students can create a 24-hour classroom even if they are outside the classroom setting.
The wider application of social media has extended to learning process. The students who are making use of social networking can also extend the networking for educational practices. The educational network comprises the updates about curricular aspects of everyday classroom. Students have heavily immersed in Web 2.0 technologies (i.e. blogs, social network sites, YouTube, Twitter, virtual worlds, podcasts, wikis, Facebook, video sharing and photo sharing). They are constructing online lives that impeccably bond with their offline world. Indeed, Internet is playing an increasingly important role in academic life of students.
Teachers will be benefitting from platforms particularly Facebook, YouTube, Blogger and Twitter. Social media can also be the educational tools of 2.0 teachers. Teachers are networking on 24-hour basis to ensure a connectivity that extends beyond classroom atmosphere. Teachers can use shared spaces to collaborate online with colleagues and students to plan classrooms beyond the walls. Individual teachers can provide links to their class blogs and share examples of student work.
The explorative question outlined in this commentary highlights the capacity of Education 2.0 to support learning processes and outcomes on a large scale. For students, Education 2.0 incorporates technological platforms that they are already using in their everyday life. Platforms enable broadening of learning horizons through communication tools. It enhances better organisation through storage and planning tools.
For teachers, Education 2.0 has been showing to increase efficiency in planning, facilitate monitoring of student learning more effectively, and enable linkages with colleagues for professional interaction and development.
For families, society, and groups, Education 2.0 create a stronger interconnection between home, society and educational institutions through ready access to class assignments, learning, academic news and individual student data. For education systems, Education 2.0 (with robust communications network access) provides a safe and secure environment for all users. They support equity by expanding learning opportunities in geographic areas that have limited resources.
It is apparent that Education 2.0 as visualised seeks to answer many challenges that educational domain in India faced for the six decades or more. More than that new media embedded education explores and cut across a range of variables that seems attainment of education more difficult for social groups in India due to social factors such as gender, caste, geography, quality, access, cost. Digital media resurfaces with the potential to wipe out the structural barriers to educational setting in India.
(About the contributor: Biju P R, teaches Political Science at Government Brennen College, Thalassery, Kerala. Researches on social media and political interfaces in the Indian context)