The Cost-Effective Solution For Online Mass Education In India
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Online Mass Education In India: How To Achieve It Cost-Effectively

The problems with the education system of rural India are multiple. Some of them which can be listed are:

  • Less availability of teachers.
  • One teacher taking multiple classes at any time.
  • Teachers not being effectively trained in teaching. 
  • No credible availability of electricity.
  • Sketchy availability of the internet.

To effectively counter such issues, giving education in electronic mode could be the answer.

1. Offer Courses In Electronic Mode

Now, there are many solutions which are tried by enthusiasts and NGOs, like trying out the education delivery with solar projectors, which could work seamlessly in any remote village. Much cheaper than the conventional projectors, the system has an inbuilt speaker, battery backup for 3 hours, and can sync with a tablet wirelessly. It also has the best brightness to power consumption ratio. But then again, it has only one iPad; and providing multiple pads would not be cost-effective. On the contrary, it would be economically unsustainable.

Then, under Project Shakshat in 2010, the government of India came up with a $35 worth of Pad for education, which lacked the obvious infrastructure of content creation and a structured learning.

Lately, the government came up with several methods of educational content delivery via interactive radio instructions and television, which due to its one way of conversation have not become popular. Apart from that, not every curriculum of the official state boards is covered under them and the content is made either in Hindi or English, which is more or less meaningless in a country where officially there are 22 languages.

Obviously, to complete the delivery of learning, the conversation has to be 2-way, i.e. from teacher to student and from student to teacher.

2. Use A Suitable And Mobile Learning Management System

A platform that can deliver the educational content (in the form of a structured LMS) and make the two-way conversation happen in offline mode even (though in non-synchronous mode) may fit the bill.

This platform must be a light mobile application so that it can run on a basic smartphone. Moreover, it should be able to be coupled with a pico-projector and a set of speakers, in order to deliver the educational content to rural students, while the microphone and the camera of the smartphone itself will be able to take feedback from the students themselves.

Then, when the smartphone comes in the internet coverage, the synchronization of the data of the application takes place, and the students' feedback gets uploaded to the server. In this way, the course teacher can assess and develop the conversation, while new courses and lectures get downloaded to the smartphone automatically (say for Drip courses), or manually (by choice of the smartphone owner).

A solar cell or a battery bank can both substitute the electric grid since either one can power the smartphone plus the pico, the projector, and the speaker.

3. Educate The Teachers Accordingly

In such an environment, the need for multiple trained teachers, who are present every day in school, is not necessary. Anyone who can operate a basic smartphone and is able to put the whole hardware system in a classroom is all that is needed.

A handful of pedagogically trained teachers can deliver quality education to the mass with such an electronic system. So, the gap in a teaching environment in the rural India can be filled to an extent.

There is a number of LMS developers in India with this holy mission, who are in the process of designing and optimizing such a solution. Key parameters of that solution would be a cost-effective compression technology, and then working out a content delivery network for the learning delivery.

At the same time, there is the need for educating the teachers on the eLearning content creation and the nitty-gritty of online pedagogy. A chain of such training classrooms (must be a brick and mortar for initiation purpose) is a must to make this a mass movement among the educators’ community.

This model of education delivery must then be economically sustainable and the content creators must be compensated in an attractive manner which would keep them encouraged. At the same time, less privileged kids' parents should not be burdened; that would discourage them from providing their kids with such a mode of education. The economy of scale (delivering the education to the mass) will play a bigger role in making such education affordable. Evidently, such a model of education delivery would not be just a technological challenge, but more of a logistical and business model challenge.

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