Tele-classrooms, an initiative set to launch soon, is an attempt to take quality education beyond cities using a customised teaching package.
Ours is a country of contradictions; a country where disparity between different ‘classes’ in society is alarming in its scale, where opulence and squalor rub shoulders with practised ease. Many arguments have been raised as to what creates such large fissures within the same nation. But the most recent, and perhaps most relevant, is the difference in education standards that students receive.
Technology to the rescue
This problem is what technology has been trying to bridge ever since it matured enough to make a difference. But the going has been slow and takers few. In a fresh attempt, Kochi-based Edyounet TeleClassrooms Ltd. has launched an initiative with support from Kerala Industrial Technical Consultancy Organisation (KITCO) to provide colleges with ‘tele-classrooms’. These classrooms will provide job oriented courses to help students develop skills that allow them to establish a foothold in competitive society.
Ram Mohan Nair, CEO of Edyounet, is of the opinion that it is not the students, but the lack of quality teaching that is to blame for falling academic standards. “We are interested by the societal angle of this problem. It is quite common that city-based students come across as better than students from far flung areas. This does not have to do with the calibre of the students but the standard of the teaching. That is what we plan to change. With tele-classrooms, a teacher can take lessons for students from any institution, anywhere,” he says.
The model of the project is simple. Edyounet has created a Linux-based video conference software customised for education, allowing teachers to interact with any number of students, and also use special writing equipment to write down relevant information which is displayed on the screen in the classrooms. Each classroom is also provided similar equipment that allows them to give the teacher written responses if required. Edyounet ties up with colleges, who in turn provide classrooms for the equipment. The equipment is provided by handpicked franchisees, (thus helping small scale entrepreneurs, according to Ram). The courses on offer are purely job-oriented, such as coaching for entrance and bank tests, and the fees for the same are set by the institution providing the course, which is then split among Edyounet, KITCO, the concerned franchisee and the college.
Ram talks about the importance of imparting education. “In places like Lakshadweep, a fisherman’s son is often a fisherman. Many youngsters turn to unsavoury activities just because they do not have other choices. We hope that bridging that divide is the key to helping them. That is why we are setting up tele-classrooms in colleges, because that is the time when the students benefit most from job-oriented training,” he says.
KITCO has recently launched a foster management division that provides technical and managerial expertise to organisations that request it. “In the tele-classroom project, KITCO is involved in assisting with the selection of franchisees and helping them coordinate and work efficiently. Edyounet has selected around 15 franchisees and we will also be involved with the selection process in future, in order to ensure uniform standards despite the location of the franchisee,” says a KITCO official.
By allowing college students a chance to increase their chances of getting employed, the tele-classrooms aim to open a new dimension in education as we know it. Here’s to a future where distances are no barrier in the pursuit of education.