ICT workshop - Mandya 11-13 October 2010

This workshop was conducted to give Institutional Capacity Development team (Mandya) an overview on ICT possibilities in education and thus to explore how ICT can be effectively used in ICD programme to achieve its objectives.

On the first day, Gurumurthy began with a discussion on 'what is education and its purpose?'. Discussions suggested that education has to make children more humane and efficient in order to develop a peaceful society. Gurumurthy introduced the terms behaviorism and constructivism. Behaviorism assumes children as passive receivers while constructivism considers children as active participants who construct their own knowledge. He mentioned how ICT can act as an effective tool in this active learning process, assisting both teachers and children. Drawing from the Stages theory, important factors were discussed, such as Infrastructure provision, User capacity building, Availability of required software applications/digital resources, Involvement and support of organisation (department heads) and Information Systems internal function/system which needs to be provided over a period of time to successfully complete ICT programme.

He introduced ICD team members to 'Open office Writer/Word Processor' application on Windows. As the team explored the usage of Open office, Gurumurthy pointed that though it doesn't look as appealing as other proprietary software it is important to use more and more ‘Free and Open Source Software’(FOSS). Then he explained what are FOSS and the importance of them because knowledge has to be shared. Various ways of analyzing data using ‘Open Office Spreadsheet’ was looked into before moving onto ‘ThunderBird e-mail and news client’. Except a few, everyone successfully migrated to thunderbird as their e-mail client on windows by the end of day one.

After getting to know various ‘FOSS on windows’ on the first day, it was time to move completely to Ubuntu on the second day. Anupama introduced the ICD team members to Kannada typing using Open Office Word processor on Ubuntu. The team was really excited to know this as it would help them to type in Kannada or any other language easily. Gurumurthy explained the necessity to use Unicode fonts than Nudi fonts which are proprietary. Anupama explained about ‘Free Mind Map’ which can assist brain storming sessions to ideate and plan better. Anupama assisted everyone to configure thunderbird as their e-mail client on Ubuntu. This was very important to make a complete transition from windows to Ubuntu.

Open Source Software has the ability to do all that we do on Windows and sometimes much more. However, the most impactful day turned out to be the third day. A perfect final assault if you could say so. Bindu presented a new world of applications like KStar, Khangman, Marble, KGeography, K Tech lab and Geogebra. These applications helped the ICD team to know how software applications can be used an aid in teaching. After discovering so many things on Ubuntu which is not proprietary software, everyone was more eager, positive and confident to explore the ICT possibilities in ICD project.

The ICT workshop was concluded drawing a progress map for next 6 months and a detailed plan for 3 years. Find a schematic plan of the role of ICTs in ICD Project Mandya here.

Leo Tolstoy who had a great influence on M.K.Gandhi called Eiffel Tower as man’s folly while his student Mr. Gandhi said ‘Eiffel Tower shows that men are just like children who get bemused by huge toys’. So we sincerely hope not just to get fascinated by ICT as a new toy. It is most important we look at it as a tool which has got immense strength to play a vital role in social constructivism. All those who have a two wheeler must know that they got a tool kit when they bought vehicle. But how many of us have tried to explore anything little, making use of those tools? So what is it that enables us to make use of tools? Is it our attitude? Is it our knowledge and tool is just an enabler? With many such interesting questions and innumerable opportunities to explore three days romance came to pause.

Girish N R