Ensuring Equitable Use of Technology in the Digital Education Era.
National Education Policy 2020 envisions an education system rooted in Indian ethos that contributes directly to transforming India sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society by providing high-quality education to all, thereby making India a global knowledge superpower.
It includes several recommendations which will transform Higher Education in India, and one of the most important ones is ensuring equitable access to technology.
What Is Equitable Access to Technology?
Equitable access to technology is worth fighting for. Technology can empower students and enhance their learning. It also increases the number of opportunities they are exposed to.
Equitable access to technology refers to all students having access to technology and information regardless of their ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, physical ability, or any other quality. Opportunities need to learn and a key segment in helping students gain the information and abilities they need to be tech-savvy.
Why Is It Important to Have Equal Access to Technology?
As the pandemic begs for a paradigm shift in the education system, technology needs to be effectively channelized towards providing quality education to students in every corner of India.
Students are deprived of learning opportunities due to unequal access to technology and knowledge, which may also hinder their opportunities after college. This inequity is amplified this academic year because of the necessity for virtual classrooms.
At home, many students do not have access to technology. Some have multiple computers and internet access, while others only have a smartphone and no data plan. Policymakers have labeled this imbalance in digital connectivity “the digital divide.”
The socioeconomic status influences their likelihood of having access to technology, and a large portion of India’s population cannot afford an internet connection, let alone smartphones or laptops. Students in government schools have limited access to high-quality learning materials and digital technology. The problem has been compounded by many teacher vacancies, low-quality teacher training, and students with differing learning levels.
Many of these issues can be resolved by improving internet connectivity in remote areas, accelerating affordable smartphone ownership, and control the availability of context-specific and engaging content directly to students.
What Can be Done to Ensure Students Have Equal Access to Technology?
1. Digital infrastructure:
To address India’s size, diversity, complexity, and technology accessibility, there is a need to invest in developing transparent, interoperable, evolvable public digital infrastructure in the education sector that can be used by multiple platforms and point solutions. This would ensure that technology-based strategies do not become obsolete due to rapid technological advancements.
2. Online teaching platform and tools:
Educational institutes should enhance e-learning platforms to provide teachers with a centralized, user-friendly, and comprehensive collection of resources for tracking learners’ progress. As the current pandemic has shown, tools such as two-way video and two-way audio interface for conducting online classes, proctored tools for Online assessment and examinations are a real necessity.
3.Addressing the digital divide:
Given that a large chunk of the population still has limited access to technology, traditional mass media such as television, radio, and community radio could be primarily used for telecasts and broadcasts. Such educational programs will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in various languages to meet the diverse needs of the student population.
4. Teacher training and incentive schemes:
Teachers will undergo appropriate training in students’ learning pedagogy, including how to use online teaching platforms and resources to become high-quality digital content creators. The teacher’s role in encouraging effective student interaction with the material and with one another will be emphasized.
5. Start Digital Literacy Programs:
Despite living in a technologically advanced world, many students are still unfamiliar with digital technologies. Lack of financial capital to buy digital tools and poor English proficiency are two factors that make students uncomfortable with technology. Digital literacy initiatives that enable students to catch up on their technical skills should be implemented by educators.
Equitable access to technology is a pressing issue. Educators, on the other hand, have the ability to expand equal access to technology.
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