Educational Satellite Programme Needs Fresh Life

Kannan*

INTRODUCTION

Technology’s influence exists in all the fields like entertainment, banking, trading, agriculture, remote sensing, weather monitoring and disaster management etc. Education is not an exception to this. Information and communication technologies (ICT) have become vital tools in today’s information age, making a dramatic impact on the lives of people globally. E-learning, video conferencing, virtual classrooms and computer-assisted teaching learning process, have changed the traditional method of teaching/learning for the students as well as teachers. The convergence of technologies such as computers, telecommunication and Web has made this change. India is the first country in the world to experiment television for education and EDUSAT is the first satellite exclusively launched for educational purposes.

In the year 2004, India launched an exclusive satellite for Education, called EDUSAT. The CEC has established “CEC-EDUSAT Network” that has 64 Satellite Interactive Terminals (SIT) spread across the country, where live lectures can be watched by the participants. It also supports curriculum-based education, effective teachers training and community participation(Reporter, 2005). The National Beam transmission on EDUSAT can be viewed across the country, while Regional Beam transmission can only be viewed in specific areas/regions. Since January 2004, educational programmes, known as “VYAS Higher Education Channel” were telecast for 24 hours throughout the week through EDUSAT (Dr.P.K.Jain, 2006).

The vision of Edusat service is to cover greater mass with programme quality and equity, to enable the participants to study anywhere, help to meet the challenges of ever changing technological advancements, to enable participants to self-learn and the possibilities for live interaction during online programme(Mungekar, 2009).

EDUSAT also provides real time, video conferencing, with the participants who are watching the lectures. The Development and Educational Communication Unit (DECU) of ISRO is involved in implementation of space application projects including production and transmission of programmes for education and socio-economic development. The vision, therefore, is to electronically reach out to a large number of participants including teachers and general public with quality educational material. At present there are 640,400 schools, 210,000 upper primary schools, 125,000 secondary and higher secondary schools, 10,200 colleges and more than 250 Universities. There are about 114 million students enrolled in primary schools 43 million in upper primary and 28 million in secondary and higher secondary schools.

Since independence, India has seen considerable raise in the number of educational institutions at primary, secondary and higher levels as well as the student enrolment. The integration of satellite technology and education has led to virtual class rooms. A user can access content from any place, off campus or in campus, through a computer and connectivity medium (Edusat programmes through TV- Gnandarshan and through internet). Web is being used for delivering more extensive content on a particular course(Navin, 2005). The EDUSAT technology allows multi-mode delivery of various kinds of data presentations including PowerPoint presentations, serverhosted digital data, still pictures and graphical information. Many institutions like IGNOU, UGC, IITs, NIOS and NCERT among others will be able to take advantage of the EDUSAT facility(De, 2004).

There are advantages to access Edusat programmes for the students as well as faculty members. Simultaneous delivery of lectures to a large number of geographically dispersed students in the shortest time, uniformity of the lecture content, get information Educational Satellite Programme Needs Fresh Life from the subject expert and his/her lecture material (eg. internet), access information at anytime from the archives, facility to share the same network with different user group and less expenditure due to economies in travel, logistics and replication of teaching infrastructure have strengthened the informal way of teaching learning process(Guidelines for E-conent Development, n.d.).

Objectives

The study tries to find out,

  1. whether students are using Edusat facilities
  2. If they are, to what extent they are beneficial
  3. If they are not, the reasons for not using it.

The study was conducted in a private college in Coimbatore district which is one of the Edusat centers (SIT).

Methodology

The methodology used for this study was survey. The sample size was 100 and the questionnaire was a data collection tool. Primary data was collected from the students of Visual Communication and Electronic Media of both under graduate and post graduate courses. The researcher has used convenient sampling, in the assumption that students from the department of communication will be aware of Edusat programmes. The questionnaire consisted of open-ended questions.

Findings

In this study 84% of boys and 72% of girls have personal computers at home. In all, three-fouths of the students have their own computer. Generally they show interest in playing 3D computer games, listening to songs, watching movies, learning softwares and business purposes. They believe that they can get all the information from the internet. The study shows 67% of boys 55% of girls have internet connection with their desktop/laptop computer. A total of 61% of students have internet connection. 80% boys said they are using internet only for entertainment purpose and only 20% of boys have used internet for educational purposes. On the flip side 65% of girls have used internet for entertainment purposes and only 35% of girls have used this for educational purposes. They are keen on 64 using internet for the entertainment side like downloading/ listening to songs, videos, movie trailers, softwares, e-mail, video chat, social networking sites etc. On the educational side, they got the study material to complete their assignments and syllabus.

Similarly, the mobile phone plays a major role in their life. It has become a part and parcel of their life. Because of the technological advancements, global communication is possible even on the mobile phone. Recently 3G technologies were introduced in India. It makes their dreams real. The technology provides various facilities like video conferencing, net meeting, Video chat, fast internet broadband etc. The study shows that only 59% of boys and 27% of girls have mobile phone with inbuilt internet facility. Less than half of the students have mobile phone with internet connectivity. As compared to the previous data, it indicates the internet usage is more in computer/laptop rather than mobile phone. The reason may be the size of the display and information accessing time, clarity/ quality and software compatibility.

Duration of
internet usage
Daily Often Sometimes Rarely
Boys 47% 47% 4% 2%
Girls 24% 49% 10% 17%

The above table shows that half of the students of both genders have used internet frequently. They are quite familiar and exposed to downloading, uploading, and surfing for general information. They feel the internet is a comfortable medium and they do send emails, watch trailers of their favourite movies, access social networking sites like Orcut, Facebook, Twitter etc. There is not much of difference in the usage of internet between boys and girls.

Majority of students are interested in watching entertainment programmes on television and at the same time three-fourths of the students are not aware of Edusat programmes. But they have a rough idea about the meaning of Edusat.

There are some conditions for the users to access Edusat programme through online. That means only members can access Educational Satellite Programme Needs Fresh Life those information fully. For getting membership they have to pay 500 rupees as registration fee. The study material is then sent to the users through registered post. The complete courseware is available on DVD from CEC, New Delhi. SC/ST/OBC candidates are given 50% fee concession against the submission of SC/ST/OBC certificate copy. The course content reachs live through modes such as DTH / EDUSAT / Net Streaming. The participants are required to watch the programmes either at home or at institutions set up for the purpose.

The Virtual Course content besides other educational programmes reaches through CEC-UGC’s 24 Hour Higher Education Channel. Though there are lots of possibilities to access Edusat programmes, the study shows only 16% of boys and 2% of girls have visited the website related to Edusat programmes like IGNOU, CEC-UGC and 84% of boys and 98% of girls have not visited the website. This might happen because of the lack of awareness about the website and programme timings, the way to login in to the website, the procedure they have given in it or their favourite subject/topic might not be there in the schedule. So the study shows that there is a significant difference in the access of Edusat programme with the other usage through online.

Unlike the entertainment programmes, there is some lack of awareness about the Edusat programmes. Only 24% of boys and 29% of girls are aware of the kinds of Edusat programmes available. On the flip side, 76% of boys and 71% of girls are not aware of the Edusat programmes. This data also shows that there is a significant difference between the awareness of the kinds of Edusat programmes and other entertainment programmes.

Since the present study has been conducted in a private college which has the facility of Edusat, 84% of boys and 86% of girls have known that their college is one of the Edusat centres (SIT) in Coimbatore. At the same time, only 24% of boys and girls have attended the Edusat programmes and 76% of boys and girls have not attended any of the Edusat programmes at all.

Though 63% of boys and 59% of girls have said Edusat programmes are informative, only 31% of boys and 24% of girls likes the Edusat programmes. The reasons might be the technology they have used or the way of presentation and content. Also, 69% of boys and 76% of girls do not like the Edusat programmes. They feel accessing the Edusat programmes through online is little difficult because of the poor bandwidth, lack of awareness about the programme schedule, timings, subjects and subject expert availability, technical faults etc.

Conclusion

India has spent approximately Rs 250 crores to build and launch Edusat. Also, various sectors like EMMRC, CEC and IGNOU are spending nearly Rs 1.5 – 2.5 lakhs for conducting various educational programmes like national level seminar, video conference etc. The present study concludes that most of the students use computers, internet and mobile phones but they are not aware of Edusat programmes and its advantages. So, the networks like ISRO, Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Technical Universities and Departments of state governments concerned should further initiatives to promote their quality services in the field of education to make all the students participate in it. Lesser number of students knew about Edusat programmes and still fewer have participated in it. By creating awareness about the worthiness of Edusat programmes and efforts taken by the government, CEC and other organizations we can make the students actively participate in it. Also, if we create awareness among the students about the quality of this educational service then the ultimate purpose of Edusat will get fulfilled.

References

  1. De, M. (2004). EDUSAT – The Indian Satellite for Education. Current Science, 87(8), 1034.
  2. P.K.Jain. (2006). Benefits of Communication and Broadcasting Satellites:Edusat Utilization Programmeof ISRO. Paper presented at the Space Education Forum, Hanoi.
  3. Guidelines for E-conent Development. (n.d.). University Grants Commission.
  4. Mungekar, D. B. (2009). The Report of the Steering Committee on Elementary Education&Literacy for The Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012). New Delhi: Planning Commission (Education Division).
  5. Navin, P. S. (2005, Monday June 27). Now, learn from the best through satellite Newspaper Article, The Hindu.
  6. Reporter, S. (2005, Friday, December 09, 2005). India – U.S. Edusat Network Launched, Newspaper Article, The Hindu.

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