Attaining Quality Through Literacy


The touch of Information Technology has paved a long way to represent a New order of learning methodology in totality. With the accelerating phase of the advent of Information Technology there is an emergence of a new social order. This has made the need for computer literacy among the masses indispensable. Rapid progress in the area of electronics and space technology have contributed substantially to this phenomena.

A digital computer is an electronic machine and a very powerful tool in information processing. The computer can well store, retrieve, analyze and synthesize data or raw information received from various sources to produce meaningful information necessary in making decisions and solving problems. It has become easy to obtain information about our bank and insurance accounts, train and airline reservations through computerized systems. Several special effects are created in electronic music and watch television programs. Computerized zerox machines, washing machines, digital watches and the like are familiar to nearly all of us. We are also aware of all of the factories in which computer controlled robots perform various mechanical operations and space programs which are heavily dependent on the new technologies. These are just a few examples of the kind of changes which have offered in our society in recent years and the rate of change is only going to rise in the years to come. To match the new realities of today's sophisticated technology, there is a pressing need to develop new skills to make the most of the new technology that is available to us. The costs of introducing and using these new techniques, providing the necessary equipment, and training people in their use have to be set against the old methods of operation and the social consequences of making the changes. The children in our schools were born in this era of change. They cannot see anything strange in these novel approaches. The curriculum for all pupils in schools will have to place emphasis on technological change and its implications. Such a curriculum should ensure that all students are able to use technology to communicate effectively with and through the computer as well as appreciate its role.

The information revolution of the twentieth century which has been brought about by advances in the computer technology has created an information society in which a majority of the labor force is expected to hold information-related jobs. Ignorance about computers will rather render people functionally illiterate as does ignorance of reading, writing and arithmetic. This means that our society will depend heavily on information technology in many areas of work and personal life. Hence, the new task of our schools is to familiarize pupils with applications of computers. A computer literate has an aid to problem solving in a variety of disciplines. This familiarity essentially involves an understanding of the use of facilities such as word processing, screen reading and the effective usage of files and data. It also demands a limited comprehension of keyboard skills.

Under this, keeping with the marching pace towards the promotion of literacy, the idea of providing knowledge about computers in schools was put into practice in the country through a pilot project called CLASS, (Computer Literacy and Studies in Schools) in 1984, by the Government of India as a joint venture of the Ministry Of Human Resource Development and the Department of Electronics.

The interactive nature of computer based learning and the facility to individualize the learning experience, the needs of the learner are the two most important aspects of computer assisted learning. The capacity of the computer functions somewhat like a traditional teacher through the use of a suitable educational software. In this mode, the computer can be used to teach the learner through tutorials, drill and practice, games, simulations or a combination of any of these strategies. Besides the computer can be programmed in such a way that tutorial lessons can be given to the pupils. With this, students will be able to learn at their own performance independent of the teacher.

Using quality educational software packages, good learning environment can be created in schools. As such, it is necessary for all citizens to understand what computers are capable of. Students should be aware of the many uses of computers, such as their use in teaching-learning, information storage and retrieval. Any country's social and economic well-being depends entirely on how well equipped its people are for a literacy-intensive technology in order to promote overall quality oriented academic excellence. If computers can assist us in the teaching process then there is a good reason to welcome their appearance. Hence, it is absolutely essential for all those involved in education to become computer literate.

With the irritation of leakage of question papers of academic arena, there appears a tough tasks to exist for the academicians. Accordingly, there appears to be a great phobia of the mass designing of the question papers of N sets manually.

The advent of the intelligent machine has led to the specific indispensable importance of computers in this regard. The question paper setting assumes prime importance of computers in this regard. The question paper setting assumes prime importance in the present education system. Keeping this concept in regard, there has been a recent development in order to pace the usage of computers, through the concepts of CAPES and QUEPS.

CAPES, the Computer aided paperless examination system, offers firing of the multiple questions on the terminal to the candidate on a particular subject, with the questions having been already fed into the machine by the authority concerned for the conduct of the examination. This system allows no cheating as the probability of flashing out a similar question to a set of two candidates is one in every hundred. Here the candidate is not at all required to have any working knowledge of computers, simply he/ she has to press the right alternative key on the keypad. With this, there is no need of the office/ stationary/ Invigilators etc. The usage of this system has revealed great success by the concerned authorities. The results are much more reliable and speedy as compared with the traditional type of examination.

On the other hand, the recent development in this regard is the QUEPS, which is a prototype knowledge based system, for question paper setting. This system also aims at modeling the human expertise, which is perishable, is affected by fatigue and prejudices and lacks ability to duplicate with ease. Perhaps, in the domain of question paper setting, deep knowledge may be available in the form of question bank containing different types of questions framed on a particular subject where they are made available in the form of units featuring essays, short type questions and the objective questions. The QUEPS and CAPES offer the usage of objective questions in terms of framing and designing items for testing.

The questions are stored in a dynamic database, where each question is stored as a predicate containing unit number, question number and the corresponding attribute list. The attributes are stored as elements of a list. List handling predicates are used while comparing the attributes as also while updating the lists of each question given out once. This is in accordance with the view that questions are never stored in the memory but are addressed or referred only through question numbers.

It may sound farfetched but the tests have revealed that it is more or less the true explanation that these systems offer plenty of scope for expansion in terms of the expertise contained in it, as also using more sophisticated mechanism to incorporate advanced concepts such as machine learning. Also in this domain the level of complexity of the system has risen up to the advanced levels of testing. 

A point which come to ponder over the introduction of this HI-TECH concept in the field of academics, is of the limitation of its' being to the objective system only. This again becomes tiresome for the subjective brand of system where every level of the answer is ranked in a different manner independent of any particular answer, which can be fed into the machine.

The quality in this direction is highlighted with the quick declaration of results, regularization of sessions and all in all bringing out overall satisfaction of the students and the parents. This further brings the profitable aspect of the organization in long run as more and more fame is gathered for the same and the rush of admissions produce more revenue monetarily bringing boon the education industry at large.

The capacity of any institution entirely depends upon the efficiency of the office staff working in within. Keeping this view in regard, it is one of the concerns of the management to give prime importance at times. In any organization, the quality of work undertaken entirely depends upon the speedy conduct with the strong guiding motivation of the BOSS. But unfortunately, this has lagged far behind due to the increasing level of work load over the years to be conducted through the old tools like carbon, pencil, ruler and the hard key typewriters.

Now, with the march of time, the very business environment has changed faster than ever before. The increased competition among organizations has led to the reappraisal of accepted business practices for higher efficiency. The attempts are being made to meet the competitive threat by reducing cost by rationalizing production, shedding labor and restructuring business. These are complemented with investment in technology to improve productivity. But the huge bulk of commercial documents generated by companies in the trading cycle still remain locked in slow, antiquated paperbound processes.

Documents produced by one computer are printed and posted, only to be entered into the recipient's computer - a time consuming, error prone and costly experience of exercise, estimated between 4% AND 7% of the value of the goods traded.

In a complex web of trading relationship in which each organization is a customer of another, we can see what paper work all too easily becomes a barrier to the trade it was designed to support. Under the novel scheme of hi-tech system within an organization of academic nature, for example, a small local area network within the office, the principal's room, different other subjected related departments if required, are linked through connected computers having an access of each other universally. This certainly reduces the circular work from one desk to the other. Accordingly, there is a paperless workplace having a direct line from one computer system to the computers of all the probable customers and suppliers. With this, every transaction could be electronic, sales returns could be analyzed and fed into ordering process, orders could be raised to reflect both demand and the known stock process, orders could be raised to reflect both demand and the known stock available in any commodity related business environment. Similarly, under the economic activity pertaining to the services as the product, like Banks and educational institutions, the on-line result display on the terminals, interactive teaching etc. are the promotional qualitative services which can be adopted through this machine, belonging to information technology. Apart from this, the official work load of sending of instruction etc., could be sent to the distributors in tandem with the order to ensure fast delivery. Carriage by road, rail, sea or air could be booked simultaneously. Customer clearance and documentation could be available in advance of the goods arriving, thus avoiding hold ups. Even payment instructions could be issued to banks to ensure prompt payment without the mountain of paper work involved in the present day business transaction. This very transmissions of information to the trading partners computers for processing is known as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). It replaces conventional paper documents with formatted and standardized business documents, transmitted as electronic transmission of business data from computer to computer, of independent organizations, using an agreed standard to structure the transaction, which is accomplished without human intervention. 

According to the principle of EDI, a 'sending computer', usually located at a customer's premises, uses telecommunications technology to transfer orders data instantly to the receiving computer, usually located at the supplier's distribution centre. The received order data is then manipulated and formatted to match the order entry files in the order data base of the supplier. Next, the information is transferred into other database, with the generation of any appropriate error messages and/ or exceptions reports. This technology can be very rightly applied to the transmittal of any business forms, including invoices and purchases orders. The 'sending computer' stores and follows up on it. The 'receiving' computer automatically transfers the data to the ware house, the factory, the accounting and billing departments and the shipping departments. Similarly, in the institutional base, the orders of the different books and deputed stationeries are accordingly ordered and assured of the deliveries. The electronic data interchange is vastly implemented in the trucking, marine shopping and air cargo industries in developed countries. Implementation need not be expensive. All that a small organization needs to have is a personal computer, a modem and telephone line and the necessary software. The day is not far off, when this very technology would create the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM), applicable to nearly all small scale business arenas as well.   


More by :  Dr. Dheeraj Malhotra

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