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Showing posts from 2007

ICT in Education

A couple of months back, I visited my daughter's school. They had called me when they heard that I had "something to do with eLearning". The group I had to address was a mix of enthusiastic teachers on one hand, and reluctant participants on the other. But one heartening aspect was that they all were eager to listen to whatever I had to say. At one point of time, I was introduced to the school Math teachers as a professor, and I had to immediately disown the honour bestowed. I explained to them that I was keen to teach the teachers (and hence their students) how to use the internet resources in their regular classes. Over the years, I had gained some expertise in tapping the resources. During the few interactions I had with the school teachers, I realized the vast gap in the intent and actual usage of technology. For me, technology didn't mean using fancy hi-tech gear like an electronic whiteboards and wi-fi campuses. These could come later. First, we should be able

Online Tutoring 2.0: Getting Past Approximating the Home Experience

Going by the reports of millions of dollars being pumped into the online tutoring industry, it seems like we have finally come of age. Two companies - India-based TutorVista and U.S-based Tutor.com - have each raised over ten million dollars in the last 6 months or so. And this wasn't a "first time" for either! The recent infusion of capital offers an opportunity for providers and investors to take a closer look at online services. I am excited with the money the online tutoring model has attracted, but not too excited with the way in which it is being used. Investment for marketing and expansion of current services is justified for now. Yet, the more important opportunity for online providers lies in breakthrough technology. For any student, or her parent, the "wow-factor" that drives them to "test" the online option is its price advantage over traditional home tutoring. Yet, apart from this and the national or international sourcing of tutors,

The Online-Offline debate: Forging alliances with the competition

With every new initiative and invention, there usually are fallouts. For instance, with automation, lot of workers lost their jobs, and with automobiles, the horses moved to the race courses. On the other hand, there have been situations when a new technology has facilitated a new product form, instead of killing the old one. Electronic Media was once touted as the killer guy. But we know for sure that newspapers, magazines, electronic media and now, the blogs live together, in harmony. Online tutoring is one such innovation that has seen all the arguments against it from varied quarters. Some critics claim that the distance mode doesn’t ensure the human interaction necessary for an effective learning. And since there is no physical face to the service, the student is not able to relate to the tutor. The etutoring service providers refute this claim, and give counter arguments as well. Technological improvements have also helped allay some apprehensions. Inspite of this healthy debate

Impacting the Ground Zero...

In the far away land called India, there is a big metropolis called New Delhi. On quite a few occasions, I take the Public Transport Bus from my home to the office. Besides saving me some bucks, this sojourn gives me an opportunity to see the real India...far away from the high-tech world of the NEW "Bangalored" or "Gurgaoned" India that the world now knows about. Of course there are more mobiles than watches in people's hands, and they are spending more on things that they could do without. But this is the story about the silver lining in all of this contrast...After I get down from the bus, I have to cross a railway crossing on foot and a huge container depot, where you would see large containers carrying everything from iron bars to sleek cars to and from all corners of the world. The place is so full of muck and filth that you wouldn't feel like putting your foot on it. But then this is exactly the place where more than a few thousands of people step in