Etisalat launched its much touted “Web Patashala,” aiming to change the face of education in Sri Lanka, by bringing electronic learning (e-Learning) to the student populace. The project is initiated in collaboration with the State Engineering Corporation and the Ministry of Education.
I decided to try it out and see what the hype was about and how effective a tool it would be in the realm of e-Learning. Firstly, one needs to use an Etisalat data connection to download the software. The download took only a few minutes and after installation was greeted by the screen pictured below:
Upon entering the software, there are lessons from grade 4- 10. I proceed to click Grade 10 English and decide to buy my first book. The interface is pretty neat and well designed.
Each lesson – a subject could have any number of lessons – would cost Rs.110. Again only an Etisalat data connection can be used. The application checks the balance on the data connection and deducts the price of the lesson.
The e-book downloads into a flash interface, where the print screen doesn’t work! I also discovered that even the copy (ctrl+c), paste (ctrl+v) function doesn’t work. Once the software is closed, the copy paste tab works but my print screen didn’t and was continually printing what is pictured below. This meant I had to close all my other documents and restart my computer. I was left wondering if this was a security feature or an endemic problem.
The English Lesson
The English lesson I downloaded was fairly good. It had videos, questions and answers. The poems and narration could have said better with some expressions. Overall a very good software opening a totally new path in the field of education. For self-learning, this would be perfect. Hats off for the companies/ organizations that backed this project.
Personally, the first question that popped into my head was how practical this would be in rural school children. A city school kid would be able to afford the internet cost, per lesson cost and a computer – basic infrastructure if the initiative is going to thrive – but what about the schools in rural areas where the initiative is aimed at and quite frankly needed? These schools are the ones that are in need of strong IT skills and are probably the least able to afford the program in itself. Even if the necessary infrastructure were donated, is it viable to think that they will be able to support the program, with internet and lesson costs, which are clearly based on the needs of the students in the long term? (there are some HP offers available at the Etisalat web site)
My next post would be “What teachers and students think about this”
[box_dark]Update from Etisalat: We would like to thank readme.lk for reviewing the Web Patashala e-learning platform. We would like to comment at this time that the selection of content that is available will be expanded over time. With regard to the restrictions to the print screen and copy functions, Web Patashala is designed with in-built digital rights management measures, in order to protect the content and the content developers. Furthermore, we envision the use of Web patashala as an educational aid for both students and teacher across communities whilst giving the opportunity to learn the school curriculum endorsed by NIE at their convince and interactively learn until they are through.” [/box_dark]