Published on Nov 10, 2015
Today, the Internet and web-technologies have become commonplace and are rapidly decreasing in cost to such an extent that technologies such as Application Servers and Enterprise Portals are fast becoming products and commodities of tomorrow.
Web enabling any information access and interaction - from Enterprise Portals, Education to E-Governance or for Healthcare, and every thing that one can imagine - is fast becoming all pervasive to such an extent that almost everyone one the world is affected by it, or contributing something in it.
However, much of it does not create significasnt value until and unless, the architecture and services over it are suited to the needs of the organizational and institutional framework of the relevant domains. While IT is getting perfected, there is inadequate work in perfecting the large and complex distributed information systems, associated information sciences and the much needed institutional changes in every organization to effectively benefit from these developments.
The Kerala Education Grid is a project specifically addressed to the Higher Education sector of the state to set in place effective IT infrastructure and methodologies and thereby improve quality and standards of learning imparted in all the colleges.
Under the aegis of its Department of Higher Education, the State Government of Kerala has taken a major initiative in establishing an Education Grid across all colleges, universities and premier institutions of research and development (R&D). The Project is called Education Grid for two important reasons: Firstly, it aims to equip the colleges with necessary IT infrastructure, network them among themselves and with premier institutions of R&D.
The second and more important reason is that the online assisted programmes planned to be put in place over the Education Grid enable the knowledge base, and associated benefits of experience and expertise to flow from where it is available - the better institutions and organizations to where it is needed - the teachers and students in the numerous colleges. The issues of how exactly this project helps, and how it is to be made a part of regular college or university is explained next.
The articulated vision of this project is to provide "Quality Education to all students irrespective of which college they are studying, or, where it is located". Having set this objective, one needs to probe in some depth the key factors that really ail our college education today. Firstly, formal education is conducted in a mechanical way of syllabus - classrooms - lectures - practical - examinations, with little enthusiastic involvement by teachers, or, education administrators alike. Students attend the classes and taking examinations with an aim of getting some marks or grade and a degree. In this process, the primary aim that education should impart scholarship, learning, earning for leaning and capacity for self-learning hardly get the attention they deserve in the formal education system.
In this context one may quote Alvin Toffler, "The illiterates of tomorrow are not those who can not read and write, but those who can not learn, unlearn and relearn". This brings the key question of what exactly are the attributes of knowledge, scholarship and learning that we wish to impart through our educational institutions. The key to India becoming a successful knowledge society lies in the rejuvenation of our formal higher education system. Education Grid approach appears to be the most practical, cost-effective, and perhaps the enlightened and realistic way to achieve this.
With the completion of the State Information Infrastructure, and with the implementation of projects such as `Kerala Education Grid' and `Education Server,' schools and colleges can start offering quality e-resources to students, irrespective of the geographic location of students and teachers.
Piggybacking on virtual campuses, school and college education in Kerala is poised to fashion citizens for the knowledge society of tomorrow. With the completion of the State Information Infrastructure, and with the implementation of projects such as `Kerala Education Grid' and ` Education Server', schools and colleges can start offering quality e-resources to students, irrespective of the geographic location of students and teachers.