Monday, 3 September 2012

Why Good Content is Important

It is well known that the education system in India is far from perfect. That being said, the government has done a great deal to improve enrollment in school which, according to our latest ASER data, stands at an average of 94.68% in 2011.

However, there is still a definite issue with learning levels in schools. For example the ASER Report data for arithmetic competence showed that students with no arithmetic competence have increased from 6.92% in 2010 to 8.7% in 2011. Further, students capable of the highest competence level tested in the ASER Survey (ability to divide), has fallen from 36.45% in 2010 to 30.18% in 2011.

An analysis of the National Sample Survey Office’s survey on “Education in India, 2007-08: Participation and Expenditure” published earlier this year in the Economic and Political Weekly found that the single largest reason for student’s dropping out of school was quality of education (including language/medium of instruction used being unfamiliar, the child not interested in studies and unable to cope or failure in studies). In elementary school 40% of all students dropping out of school cite quality of education as the reason. Although there are other factors which also contribute significantly to children dropping out, we can surmise by this analysis that education quality is something which needs to be given due consideration.

Information and Communication Technology in education (known as Educational Technology or ET) offers a great possibility in improving learning outcomes, some of which are highlighted below:
  • Information access – the internet serves as a repository of an incredible wealth of information on almost any topic which can be accessed remotely and cheaply.
  • Multiple media – ET provides information which goes beyond textbooks and verbal explanation to include learning by seeing, hearing and experiencing. Concepts can be explained through videos, images, songs, dynamic illustrations etc. Visual learning through the use of multimedia is more effective than verbal learning, especially when it comes to new concepts
  • Changing learning – By providing information and multimedia, the learning process can be changed from the teacher simply transferring information to a more constructivist approach which focuses on understanding by experiencing concepts
While ETs can be very useful, a Policy Paper written by NCERT's National Focus Group on Education Technology  in 2006 commented that governmental efforts in employing ETs have so far been supply driven and equipment centered. We also personally believe that when technology is deployed, there is an insufficient focus on the content and greater consideration given to the technology itself. Considering the need for improving quality, and the current product based focus of education, we sincerely feel the need to have strong, effective, contextualized content to maximize the benefits ETs can provide.

Our Content

The 'Learn, Out of the Box' Program aims at putting the technology in the hands of the teacher: the aim being to arm teacher with technological tools to better to plan and execute lessons.

The WebBox is internet enabled through a SIM card thus requiring no internet system to be set up in the school. Teachers can browse the internet for information as well as access videos on websites such as YouTube.

Additionally the WebBox has three modules:

V-Class: This module is designed for the teachers and is curriculum aligned. It contains lesson planning ideas, activities and games that teachers can use in the classroom, videos which explain concepts, ability to search for images and videos available online. The aim of this content is to diversify the teacher’s options for how tox teach the curriculum and make lessons more engaging, interactive and relevant for students
Left: A video showing the reproductive parts on the flower; Right: A video explaining addition of decimals

Home screen of the ERP System

V-School: Also provided on the system is an ERP System for school management which can be used to digitize school management functions such as attendance, examination results, students’ records, finances and so on. This module hopes to provide ease and efficiency to school management

The dictionary application

 V-Apps: Here teachers can access applications which can be loaded onto the WebBox. This includes everything from a Calculator to Android based applications such as dictionaries or games, which can be used in the classroom.

Do look out for our next post which will feature a more in-depth insight into the V-Class module and will highlight our content – it will show how teachers can make the most of the module to plan and teach a class.