Natural Field of Bangladesh
Application of Information Technology in Rural Community based Distance Education: Bangladesh Open University Concept.
Md. Hakikur Rahman, Computer Division, Bangladesh Open University, Board Bazar, Gazipur 1704, Bangladesh.
Information Technology is the applied form of modern electronics based information-handling systems for incorporating solutions to problems. In the context of Bangladesh Open University (BOU), the problem of learning or teaching would become more efficient and effective through this system, where the students have seldom face-to-face contact with the teacher.
Computing technology and telecommunications converges towards Information Technology and educational IT involves the use of this for improved learning through audio, video and computer conferring, electronic mail and the "virtual classroom" concept.
Being one of the least developed country in this region, Bangladesh Government has taken several intensive programme to raise the level of education at 100% by the year 2006 with highest budget allocation in education sector.
BOU has been established to provide educational facilities to the rural disadvantaged groups, dropouts, working class, general mass through formal and non-formal programmes using Radio, Television and Computer in addition to conventional print media. Whole nation is obtaining benefit of this system of learning by raising mass literacy rate.
In addition to audio and video conferring, the new IT is being used for developing resource material-research material, implementing direct teaching and direct learning, low cost tutorial support and direct flow of news-information to be adopted in Distance Education.
Education techniques in BOU involves learning methods through home study-closely allied to correspondence study; external study , continuing and adult education; open learning; flexible learning and technology-based or mediated education and this paper has been intended to explore exhaustively different IT methods adopted by BOU at present and have plan to use in future presuming contemporary socio-economic status, convenanting bottleneck and shortfalls, exhibiting preferences and advantages to promote Distance Education in acco5rdance to BOU guideline.
At present BOU has nearly 200,000 students throughout the country dealt by 12 regional Resource Centres (RRCs), 80 Local Centres (LCs) and 700 Tutorial Centres (TCs). Within a short period the number may increase by many folds and it has become a real challenge for the BOU to cover this enlarged number of students. It is the high time to adopt programmes using low-cost IT techniques feasible enough for our rural-based society to spreadout BOU mission in Bangladesh.
Currently BOU has two Novel Server connecting nearly 100 workstations inside campus using fiber optics, One Windows NT Server operating as backbone of a Oracle based software, SIMS (Student Information Management System), One Asynchronous Server communicating to remote stations through standard dial-up procedure and One Linux Server providing e-mail service to nearly 200 user inside and outside campus throughout Bangladesh. Two Databank has been hooked up with the server providing data storage from all Schools and Divisions for emergency breakdown period of any individual workstation.
Programmes are at hand to raise a dedicated Web Server with all relevant information of BOU activities in a short time, that, student from remote places can hook-up to it from RRCs and collect their necessary data, information, etc. Web server can include programmes launched by Schools, tutorials, guidelines, exam schedules, any helping hints/tips to students from any particular tutor. A team comprising personnel from Computer Division and representatives from each School and Division can work year around altogether for this service.
The information infrastructure involves extreme use of a digital library using LAN/WAN communication network, thus incurring substantial changes in the conventional learning methods to promote the computer supported collaborative learning environment.
Successful implementation of this virtual learning methods need to count legal, ethical, social, economical and institutional dimensions.
Keywords: Windows NT, Virtual Classroom, Linux, LAN/WAN, Collaborative Learning.
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