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TV for a textbook?

Direct-to-home television service providers have come up with an innovative way of teaching on TV. But can televisions ever be good enough to be ‘teachers’?

india Updated: Aug 25, 2010 21:32 IST
Debjeet Kundu

Yaar, hamare zamaane mein aise classes kyun nahi hote the,” laments Aamir Khan as he walks the empty corridors of a school in a telly ad. The brand being advertised has come up with an innovative way of teaching on TV.

So have quite a few other direct-to-home television service providers. But can televisions ever be good enough to be ‘teachers’?

Edu-tainment
“In many of our surveys, parents asked us why television couldn’t be something more than entertainment,” says Vikram Mehra, Chief Marketing Officer, Tata Sky, adding “And since it’s hard to keep children away from the TV, an education system, which is entertaining too, clicked.”

“The curriculum that we have are mostly quizzes, done in a fun way. Children get interested easily,” says Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV India.

And how good are these ‘classes’? “Well, they aren’t bad,” says Namita Seth, a mother and banker. “My son now watches something other than cartoons.” Homemaker Deepti Sen says, “I feel they are better than soaps. I get to learn something, too.”

No uniforms?
Rabindranath Tagore never went to school, and the university he founded had no classrooms. So, is that the inspiration behind the advertisement showing children dreaming of a uniform-free class?

“Uniforms are the basic essence of an education system. It makes every child equal,” says Kanika Das, a B.Ed aspirant. And since it is this equality that is lacking, not every child in this country still gets to watch TV at his/her home.

But what about new-age teaching technologies? “The inter-personal relationship between teacher and student is essential, and the television can’t establish that,” says Shobha Bahadur, teacher, Gyan Bharti Public School.

“Anything that needs to be conveyed in a language has to be punctuated with expressions and modulations. How can that happen there on TV?”

The service providers are quick to clarify. “Schools can’t be replaced, and that’s the truth,” says Mehta. Adds Kapoor, “What we provide just compliments a child’s study?”

So if you thought that school was on its way out and telly-university in, please get back to your homework, and keep the uniform ironed.

Will you bunk classes for these?

Television aids: Service providers - some aided by various schools and institutions - have study materials. Most of these are quizzes, just structured like games to interest.

E-study: Internet also has sites that offer e-learning. The study material is usually uploaded on the websites and sometimes video conferencing helps you to get the feel of a class.

Audio books: People remember songs for their entire lives, while they forget the syllabus in a jiffy. Audio books try to bridge this gap, where each subject has questions and answers recorded in these CDs, which you can listen to and mug up.

Pillow talk: Recently, a pillow was in news in the UK, where study material could be uploaded as Mp3 tracks. So it basically plays on even as you sleep, as research says that may help in you remember stuffs before exams, while letting you sleep!