Gráinne Conole is Professor of eLearning at the Institute of Educational Technology in the UK’s Open University. Previously she had a chair in education at the University of Southampton. On October the 3rd 2012 she talked to www.edu-leaders.com :
EDU: What does e-learning involve for students?
Grainne Conole: I think e-learning involves the use of any online digital tool, mobile device and a whole range of different things. The benefits of e-learning are enormous as they enable learners to learn anywhere, anytime. They give more flexibility and can also complement the campus face-to-face learning. The range of tools we have today and the way they enable learners to communicate and collaborate with other learners and international experts worldwide, is incredible. It’s a very exciting time for e-learning.
EDU: What about e-learning in India? Does it have a lot of scope in India?
Grainne Conole: Well, it’s my first visit to India and I am delighted to be here. We had an excellent presentation at EDGEX 2012, which gave us the flavour for the context of education in India. India is clearly a country that is ancient in some way with age-old traditions. But otherwise, it is very young and vibrant with a big population of young people. The huge demand for learning can’t be met by face-to-face campuses, so e-learning will be a major alternative by which students can access learning. One of the interesting things about e-learning in the Indian context is that India is striving towards excellence. Sugata Mitra, an Indian now based in England, carried out a wonderful ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiment, where he went into villages in India and left a computer there. He thought in a month’s time the computers will be broken, but to his surprise the kids had worked out how to use it and that was something incredible. He said the Indian kids had high aspirations—they wanted to become engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Education in India is seen as a tool to root out poverty. India has got a very exciting future and e-learning is an important part of it. But the challenges India will face because of its mind-boggling numbers, are huge.