|Nurul Islam Nahid inaugurating the website as Russel
T Ahmed (left) and Jamilur Reza Chowdhury (right) looks on. courtesy : Anisur Rahman
The concept of e-learning is still new to Bangladesh, but it is one that is gradually coming to limelight. As Bangladesh gets digitalised, sharing of information reaches newer heights and the traditional notions about education sees reforms that have long been overdue. Learning today is more of a garbage-in-garbage-out phenomenon, a result of our age-old education system, and younger students are increasingly falling out of the appeal that school and everything about school holds. After-school classes are attended by students as young as primary school going children, which is why the idea of e-learning brings home a sense of relief to many, students and parents alike and champs21.com is the first of its kind.
Launched on January 31, champs21.com promises to make learning fun through its many interactive features. Exclusively for Bangladeshi students from grade 3 to 10, it offers online self-assessment test service for students to assess their strengths and weaknesses in Mathematics and Science. The launching ceremony was graced by well-known academicians while Education Minister, Nurul Islam Nahid was present as chief guest and Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, Former Vice Chancellor of BRAC University, as special guest. On the panel were also present Russel T. Ahmed, the CEO of TeamCreative Ltd of champs21.com and Mahfuz Anam, Editor and publisher of The Daily Star. Welcoming the audience, Mahfuz Anam stressed the idea of IT based learning and the fact that it can act as the stepping stone to the realisation of the dream of 'Digital Bangladesh'. “We are using The Daily Star to promote the culture of e-learning. It will give students direction and reduce dependency on private tuition. Education then becomes fun and self-challenging," he said.
Champs21.com has been launched with time-bound assessment tests to complement students' classroom learning. Currently available to English medium students, it plans to rollout its second phase in January 2011 for Bangla medium students all over the country. The interactive portal lets students solve problems and learn through sharing. In the process, an online community of young learners is created. More exciting features include intellectual games like Sudoku as well as compilation of comics and anthologies for the young readers. Inter-school online knowledge competition titled Brain Brats will also run soon where participants will be registered through their schools and winners are announced at the end of the second round. Russel T. Ahmed elaborates, “When we were young, we had to face competition locally. The generation today faces a stronger competition -- that on the global scale. So much is already happening in neighbouring countries like India, Singapore and Thailand, but our students lag behind. Through the blessings of technological innovation, we can shrink the gap and be closer to where those nations are," he stressed.
The interactive portal is a helpful tool for better preparations as students can take tests anytime and anywhere with instant results and performance feedback. Nurul Islam Nahid welcomed this latest approach to learning, hoping that it reaches down to rural schools. In his opinion, e-learning can be a saviour to tackle the problems in the way education is provided. If a change is to take place then such alternative methods to traditional learning experience can go a long way to take education to the next level. “The new generation will have to be given the benefits of modern technology. There can be no better experience than learning through sharing. Taking the world into fists is the way to let change happen”.
Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury brought to light a few realistic examples that e-learning can usher in. However, he also pointed out that many schools throughout the country are still alien to the idea of IT based learning, and champs21 will begin its true journey when students across Bangladesh are using it and benefiting from it. He suggested that registrations to the site be kept without charge till its use takes full flight.
Until e-learning takes Bangladesh in full storm, here's hoping that champs21 and its creators live up to its expectations as the pioneer in this regard.