What our school students need to learn through computers.
• A school student is not expected to learn complex computer programming or lessons in software development through the computers used in our schools. A school student only needs to learn certain basic operations of a computer. These basic operations are enough for a school student to make use of certain computer based educational applications loaded in a school computer.
• These days even the kindergarten students make use of the computers for learning. They need to handle the basic components of the computers like the keyboard and mouse to work on their computer systems. When these young students try to play some basic educational games of alphabets and numbers, they not only learn about the alphabet or numbers which are seen by them on the computer monitor screen but they also learn to identify these numbers and alphabet letters on the keyboard. They also learn how to move and click the mouse pointers on the screen. By doing this, the students also come to know the left and write mouse buttons of the mouse. The basic educational games available readymade in the market or made by their teachers using MS PowerPoint fascinate the attention of the students and get attracted towards learning.
• The various educational slides and games that can be bought or prepared by the teachers for the use of kindergarten students can relate to the study of alphabets, numbers, colours, actions, animals, body parts, clothes, family relationships, fruits, vegetables, places of worship, days of the week, months of the year, classroom articles, school articles; rooms in a house; means of transport or anything which might come to the mind of the teacher and which the teacher thinks that the children of this age should know and learn. Children can learn their nursery rhymes from videos which can be played in the computers.
• Growing up from these basics, the students can learn to draw by using MS Paint and learn to type small words and sentences using MS Word. Moving away a little from these applications, the students can learn the use of MS Excel for small calculations and MS PowerPoint for making slides.
MS PowerPoint can serve as very useful educational tool
• MS PowerPoint can be used as an important educational tool both by the teachers and students. Teachers can make PowerPoint slides based on the text book lessons. These slides can be made very effective by inserting sound files, images and can also be given animation effects to the text and images. These slides will thus make learning very interesting to the students. Even interesting educational games can be created by using MS PowerPoint which can be run in the computer labs in the school where the individual students can interact independently or in groups of two to play these educational games. The children learn their subjects very fast in this manner.
What is the extent of usage of computers in schools of India.
• Though India has become one of the major key players in the use of communication technology in the world, but most of the schools in India lack even the basic computer education except in private schools mostly located in the cities of India. In these institutions also, there is no uniform system to use computers as a means of learning by the students. Each school uses its own methods to teach the students or learn through computers. The computer labs and infrastructure provided in the schools differ from school to school. Let us see how the computer education is covered in various types of schools in India.
Computer education in government schools.
• India lives in villages which comprise of three fourths of our population. Most of our government run schools are located in villages. These schools are fully or properly equipped with the infrastructure to teach children through computers. Even in the city government schools, wherever the computers are provided, they lack proper maintenance facilities or there are no competent teachers to use them in a proper way as a media of education. Many schools just keep computers only to show the statistical data to satisfy the inspection authorities.
Computer education in privately managed schools.
• Many privately managed institutions which are mostly located in the urban areas do provide basic computer education to the students. The scope and extent of computer education provided in the privately run schools differ from school to school. Most of the small schools in this category mainly use the computers for teaching fundamentals of computers or playing ordinary games by the children. Most of them do not have internet facilities. The computer related infrastructure in these schools for the use and implementation of computer based education is also not the same. Some international and corporate schools which collect very high rates of fees from the students provide electronic interactive white boards with computer based educational software from companies like the Educomp, Teachnext, digiclass, smartech etc. In some other private schools where these companies provide the hardware and software for teaching called smart classes, charge around Rs.100 per month per student extra from the students in addition to the normal fees of the school.
• Some of the schools have provided their own computers, projectors, LCD TVs and have developed their own PowerPoint lessons based on the text books used by their school students. I know one school run by the Holy Mary Children's Educational Society at Ferozguda in Hyderabad city of Andhra Pradesh which provides all these facilities from LKG to X class. The school charges a nominal fee of about Rs.500 to Rs.700 per month which includes the fees charged for all these facilities in this school. The school has a network of about 35 computers supported by the LCDs TVs and overhead projectors. All the computers in the computer lab and classes are networked to one another. So there are some schools in India like the one I have mentioned which provide these facilities on a no loss no profit basis. The idea of education for such schools is not business which many of the modern private schools have indulged in.
• Whether we like it or not, the education through computers is going to become one of the most important techniques of teaching methods in the schools of the 21st century. But the revolution in computer education will not be complete until the computers are used as media of teaching in each and every school in rural India.