Thursday, 4 July 2013

A School in the Clouds

A school in the clouds? Is this just a hyped and a goofed up technological dream or a real possibility in the coming years? Can the efficient and productive use of resources possibly lead to the birth of a schooling system that can change the outlook of education? The above raised questions have always been answered reluctantly by the people who matter; and hence, today question marks are raised regarding the credibility of our current schooling system.  Being a responsible individual, I do sternly support the view that the outlook of our education system can be changed by introducing cloud schools.

Cloud schools refer to that aspect of schooling where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information, and mentoring online. To make things uncomplicated, cloud schools can even be termed as “online schools”. Cloud schools or online schools do not require a rocket-science theoretical approach; but rather, simple, and unproblematic execution of ideas put forth. The use of the internet plays the most integral part in the introduction of cloud schools. The computer is the medium that would be the source of transmission of knowledge in this case.

Over the past few decades, the world has developed at an astonishing rate. The products of these rapid developments have been the internet and the computer. The boons of both are known by one and all. But the one pro that stands out, is the fact that both are reasonably easy to operate and access. In 1999, an experiment conducted in the isolated villages of India, did prove this theory right. The experiment was that a computer was installed in one of the corners of the village, and as anticipated, the locals were left spellbound by it. Soon the children began to access it (the locals till that point in time, didn’t even know what a computer meant) and it just took a span of 8 weeks for them to access educational sites and play games! The same computer was further used by experts to teach the children to improve their communication and pronunciation skills, apart from teaching them science. That project too yielded fruitful results, as the level of knowledge of the children increased drastically. As a matter of fact, one of those children that participated in the project went on to become a top call centre executive.

Like the above instance, there have been several other instances, where the uneducated children have known the computer inside-out within the matter of a few weeks. Hence, if the children can know the computer and the internet so quickly, then cloud or online schools too would be positive.

The current methods of teaching and schooling are significantly obsolete, as there is very little scope for application to be applied by the students. The “rote-learning” method, used by an Indian Education Board, has drawn criticism for the past several years, and as a result, such students have failed to perform at the international level. On the other hand, cloud schools will indulge in a lot of application based programs that would motivate the students to excel and perform better. Apart from that, the teacher to the student ratio too would be comparatively low for cloud schools. The “teacher” in this case could be teaching the students from a distance of 1000 miles, via the internet and the webcam. To make the project more secure, an experiment was conducted where a teacher from England, monitored students from Tamil Nadu, from a distance of 4000 miles. This experiment too proved to be highly successful. All it needed for the experiment to be successful was the presence of a broadband connection and a web cam.

Another reason for which I support the theory of cloud schools is that, schools in remote villages of developing nations are situated very distantly, and this takes a massive toll on the students. In some cases, students even have to cycle their way for 20 miles, to reach their school. By the presence of cloud schools, each village would be given several computers and webcams, and there wouldn't arise the need for students, to travel so much. Hence, in such cases, the time of travelling too would be saved. This saved time can be allocated to a more productive purpose by the students.

The teachers for cloud schools too can be easily recruited. Retired and experienced teachers, who just have to spend a couple of hours in front of the computers, can fit the bill. There wouldn't even be a need for the teachers to travel. Such aspect of education would be “fun –learning”, as students these days have found a friend in the computer.

The jobs in the future would demand employees to work with the computers and laptops throughout, rather than manually doing much of the work. The presence of cloud schools would mean that the students would almost be a decade ahead in time, as they would be studying via the computer and the internet.

All it would need, to ensure that the above initiative is a success, would be the undying support of governments, in terms of financing, and the common man, who should approve such an initiative, that has the ability to paint bright futures of the coming generations.

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