At a time when technology rules the roost, digital divide can be transformed into a digital opportunity by giving top priority to development of information and communication technology. In this information age, integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) with education is very much needed if we really want to create a holistic learning environment focusing on quality, innovation, expansion, excellence and inclusion.
ICT-enabled education is not only an answer to the growing demands for enrolments in education, but is also in tune with the mindset of the present day students and helps meet the challenges of the growth of knowledge. ICT, if used creatively, can make a big difference in the way teachers teach and students learn.
India has the third largest system of education in the world, next only to USA and China, with more than 400 universities and around 20,000 colleges. To introduce ICT-enabled education in such a large system one needs to have high quality multi-media enriched content in different disciplines for various courses, capacity building of teachers and students in ICT skills and state-of-the-art infrastructure along with broadband connectivity for disseminating the content. The launch of National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT) in 2009 is a major initiative of the Government of India in this direction. It aims to leverage the potential of ICT in providing high quality personalised and interactive content, free of cost, to all the learners in higher education institutions in anytimeanywhere mode. Delhi University's Institute of Lifelong Learning (ILLL) was set up with an aim to integrate ICT with education and is presently engaged in the development of high quality multi-media enriched content in the form of e-Lessons, e-Quizzes, e-Labs and e-Lectures. While e-Lessons provide quality content with multi-media enriched value additions, e-Quizzes in the form of MCQs of different difficulty levels provide students a mechanism for self-learning and assessment through a complete, logical reasoning of the correct as well as incorrect answers. The concept of e-Lectures or live lectures enables best faculty members to reach out to students across various DU colleges. Similarly, multimedia enrichment helps communicate difficult concepts in simpler ways.
However, the development and increasing use of ICT in education is accompanied with a bitter contradictionthe digital divide, which refers to the digital gap between people with effective access to ICT and those with limited or no access at all. Major factors contributing to this digital divide include, quality and cost of physical infrastructure, lack of knowledge about full capabilities of ICT and lack of availability of high quality content uniformly across the country.
One can transform this digital divide into a digital opportunity by giving top priority to the development of ICT and telecommunication infrastructure in order to provide universal and affordable access to information to people all across. ICT courses should be integrated to curriculum from the school level itself. Also, once the content has been developed, it should rather be standardised in the light of suggestions from users and experts.