India and Web 2.0

The place I come from in India is called the Oxford of the East. It is very rich in educational resources, universities, and institutes. Almost 70% of the student population is from other cities in the country. The Web 2.0 movement would be the perfect tool for such a varied kind of student, teacher crowd. I was just trying to imagine how it would be if the university from where I did my first degree tried to integrate some of the tools I see here.

It was pretty disappointing for me, because all I could hit with that idea was a blank wall. Education in our society is very important…. Formal education is a hallmark of a well developed person. At the same time, all the players involved in the educational arena are not very well educated themselves. Just as all the other things in India, education is subject to bureaucracy and corruption. Vested interests, politicians control how the educational world should function, than the people who really understand it more.  Conventional ways of learning have been tried and tested successfully since years, to rock such a comfortable boat would mean too many changes, too much of financial investment. Oh, don’t get me wrong….India has more potential to create opportunities and make them real than any other nation right now. It’s the middlemen- if changes really do occur, their major source of income, bribes, would disappear.

To imagine the kind of internet and computer access I see here, for the senior college students in India is almost impossible. We believe in the true meaning of collaboration, share one computer amongst 5 students. Buying PCs for home usage is pretty common in most of the urban human households. But the computer and internet is still not viewed with an open enough mind to understand its possibilities as a true networking and learning tool.  As I said earlier, availability or lack of technology does not make a difference. Especially for India, where learning is still very much a teacher controlled, teacher centered concept. It is the teachers, instructors; administrators who need to change their attitudes… open source, collaboration are some aspects which I believe will be very effective to get a large variety of students together. This could in fact help in reducing the geographical gap, the gap between urban and rural students in India. Collaboration could open up lots of possibilities for students from all walks of life, to communicate, talk, exchange information.

And as so many other issues in India, the learning issue continues, universities struggle to stay in business, parents struggle to pay the fees…. Wish there could be a collaborative degree, two people get the benefits of doing it half and half!

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