Sunday, 20 October 2013

Lessons at your fingertips

Through videos, pictures and more, the online National Repository of Open Educational Resources promises to simplify both learning and teaching

Imagine an online library that’s as vast as the sky. It has videos, audios, books and pictures open to all for free. Anyone can contribute, critique, share, and adapt the content to suit their requirement. Teachers can use it to make lessons livelier; students can easily understand concepts they find complicated — all at the click of a mouse. That’s the National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) for you.

Going digital

An initiative of the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India and the Central Institute of Educational Technology, National Council of Educational Research and Training, the repository “will endeavour to bring together all digital and digitisable resources for the school system — for all classes, for all subjects and in all languages”. It was launched at the recently held National Conference on ICT (Information and Communications Technology) for School Education in New Delhi.

So, what is the NROER all about? A quick look at the website will tell you that it’s the best place to be if you’re a teacher and are looking at ways to take learning beyond textbooks. According to Prof. Rajaram S. Sharma who is part of the core NROER team, the repository hopes to take quality electronic content to schools across the country. It aims to put technology to good use, since the Internet is catching up in government schools.

Its homepage features links to the various resources in the repository, namely videos, audios, interactive objects, images and documents. By clicking on ‘videos’ you can browse the video files in the library, under themes such as ‘Dance forms of India’, ‘Land & people’, ‘Sports’, ‘Himalayas’ and ‘Freedom Movement’, among others. There are also videos on origami, multiplication and algebra.

NROER features over 300 videos of science toys made of everyday objects by innovator Arvind Gupta — these include ‘Magic paper fan’, ‘Lighthouse generator’ and ‘Inertia pump’; audio clips about Gandhiji, Charles Darwin, Galileo, Baba Amte; photographs from across the country, documents on science concepts…

The repository is a collaborative platform, and anyone who has an interesting concept can upload it. They will also be given credit for the same, adds Rajaram. Of course, content uploaded may “require a little editing” to ensure it is suitable to be presented to students.

Content in Indian languages

The best thing about NROER is that it will feature content in Indian languages. Since their material has a Creative Commons licence, anyone can adopt it. For instance, “put a Tamil script and subtitles and share it with each other”, says Rajaram. Teachers can use it to “transform the classroom” by incorporating the concepts in the teaching process. “A volcano can be understood better if students watch a video of it and a slide show containing 10 to 20 photos,” he says. Wouldn’t it be easier to talk about the magnificence of sea waves to school children in a remote village in the Nilgiris using a video, he asks. A teacher can start a lesson with it to take children into the subject. This way, they can “give something more”.

Teachers can also comment on the resource they accessed, giving an evaluation of it to others in the field, adds Rajaram. His team hopes to take the repository to every nook and cranny of the country — through events and training programmes. If things go as planned, NROER could be among the best things that happened to our education system.

In a nutshell

NROER is a collection of videos, audios, interactive objects, images and documents to help teachers and students. The resources are organised into a semantic map of concepts. Anybody can access, edit, contribute and share the content

Source | The Hindu |

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