How do teachers, administrators and policy makers feel about their experiences with technology? Is there a balance between teaching about technology as a subject, and as a tool for learning? Has the technology integration proved financially, technically and administratively sustainable over time?
In continuation to our discussions on formulating a National Policy on ICT in School Education in India, and our attempt to make the discussions more wide, open and collaborative, we are producing the discussions that the UN Solution Exchange (www.solutionexchange-un.net.inen) Community members have reflected on the key thematic pillars like ICT Infrastructure, e-Content, Capacity Building, Innovation and Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, Quality in School Education, and Public Private Partnerships in a series. In this issue, we are presenting a part of the discussions happened on the issue of e-Content. The June issue of Digital Learning has produced the e-Discussions of the UN Solution Exchange Education and Development community on the Capacity Building and Innovation and Research.
As we know, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (www.education.nic.in), Government of India, has already initiated the process to formulate the 'National Policy on ICT in School Education'. The Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (www.gesci.org), a UN ICT Task Force founded organisation, along with Centre for Science, Development, and Media Studies
(www.csdms.in) provides strategic assistance to MHRD in the preparation of this policy.
eCONTENT DEVELOPMENT and DELIVERY
Experiences and examples, case studies and recommendations on mechanisms for delivery of digital content (computer-aided multi-media, Edusat, Radio, TV, etc) to reach schools.
Challenges in procurement of quality digital content (computer-aided, TV, Radio, etc) for schools, especially pertaining to local languages.
Suggestions for strategic and practical use of digital content in the school education system. Are there any experiences that can be evaluated?
Anindya Kumar Banerjee, Panchayats and RD Department, Government of West Bengal, Kolkata
'Allow academia to provide quality content'
Although there is ample content in the ICSE & ISC and CBSE, NCERT syllabus, there is not much in the state-run boards. It is therefore the responsibility of respective local players or bodies of educational players to create content.
I personally feel that the best way to develop quality content is allowing the academia in IITs, IIMs and Indian Institutes of Information Technology, etc to provide us with content that the education boards will accept without much fuss.
'Broadcasting by K-YAN'
Most of the schools can be given digital content to be unicasted, but the fact is how to 'broadcast' it as we all know a computer is viewed by 2 to 4 students. But if a projection system like K-YAN of IL&FS (http://www.k-yan.com/) is used, then the impact is obviously greater. In West Bengal, K-YAN was distributed by the state government in 42 schools in Bankura, 23 in Burdwan, and 51 in North 24 Parganas. Similarly, 55 girls schools in Tripura were provided K-YAN two years back which did wonders.
I definitely suggest K-YAN as a cost-effective option, unless a PC is used along with a projector. For content, I feel, we are totally dependent on vendors who are working in the area of content creation. We have made a CD with the help of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Kolkata- EKLAVYA, which is on basic computer education including Office and Hardware in English, Hindi and Bengali. We also have found out some content in Bengali for class 10 and 12 for Biology, Geography etc and of course the IL&FS ETS are there with content for K-12.
Content should be in accordance with the education board standards, this is in check here in West Bengal.
Madhu Ranjan, United Sates Agency for International Development (USAID), New Delhi
'Delivery of digital content through radio and TV'
Technology Tools for Teaching and Training (T4) is a USAID-supported initiative implemented by the Education Development Centre (EDC). T4 has numerous examples of delivery of digital content through Radio using Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) and TV (Edusat) to reach hundreds of primary schools in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar in partnership with the state SSAs. The IRI programmes are broadcast in the local language for all primary classes in Karnataka for all subjects. In Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, MP and Bihar, broadcasts are made for classes I and II for English language. These broadcasts are need-based, as identified by states themselves. The content is also delivered through video (Edusat) in those primary schools in Karnataka that have the necessary infrastructure. Besides, a series of Group Teaching Learning (GTL) multimedia CDs have been developed, covering a range of topics in Science and Social Studies. Under this, over 500 programmes have been produced and broadcast/delivered so far. All these programmes are evaluated by external agencies before they are aired and are also assessed for changes, both in the teaching practice and learning levels of students, each year.
The greatest challenge is to make it pervasive and integrate its features into the ethos of a school
The critical features of this initiative are:
- The teacher remains central to the teaching-learning process.
- The programmes are so designed that they encourage 'interactivity' and 'inclusion' in the classroom.
- The programmes are designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated in consultation with the SSA, thus allowing for its mainstreaming.
- The rich and insightful inputs of grassroots NGOs in the formative evaluation these programmes strengthen it immensely.
- There is intensive training of teachers and other education functionaries of the government.
From our experience, the most critical challenge in this entire process is to maintain the rigour in providing support to teachers and closely monitoring their work, and this in turn requires an adequately equipped and motivated academic support staff.
Ananya S Guha, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi
'Policy makers to take advice of school authorities'
ICT is an all-encompassing term which includes radio, television and computers. The greatest challenge is to make it pervasive and integrate its features into the ethos of a school. They can act upon one another or be used separately but in an integrated fashion. For example, podcasting or computer broadcasting can serve the purpose of a radio, with the ability for synchronous interaction. There could also be phone-in programmes by FM Channels. As a
college teacher in Shillong in the 80s, I found many school radio broadcasts ofgood quality. But how many students would tune into these at 1.30 PM, a time when classes were held?
The policy makers must consciously take the advice of the school authorities in decision making such as fixing the timing.
Veena Sethi, UDAAN Foundation, New Delhi
'ICT learning in a remote area'
I would like to share my experience in introducing ICT learning in a remote area. We are a very small NGO operating in Mukteshwar (Nainital district). Since there are no such facilities in the area, as an experiment in 2005, I started a computer education centre in my house. I designed a very simple course and trained local youth in computer basics. Today, they are not only teaching others but one of them is also in charge of the centre. Unfortunately, we have not had much success in persuading the local government schools (primary as well as secondary) to outsource computer teaching to us. Reasons are the usual: the schools do not have electricity / provision to pay for it, even the one or two schools that do have systems do not have teachers.
So we have entered into partnership with a local Shishu Mandir school where we are imparting computer education to three senior classes (approximately 70 students).
In addition, our students also run the Tata Consultancy Services designed Adult Literacy programme in different villages, from time to time. Some of our senior students also come to Delhi for training in hardware and new programmes. Our latest venture is producing multimedia educational CDs in Hindi for students from class 1-5.
Gurumurthy Kasinathan, IT for Change, Bangalore,
'Need for open source software and open standards'
A topic such as content is quite domain independent. The education domain has significant meaning attached to 'teaching learning material', including philosophies of its creation, constructivism (a learner learns by making meaning of an experience, which requires active participation and even creation; a mere consumption of information or content is unlikely to cause learning), scaffolding (requiring active facilitation of the teacher in co-constructing these experiences for creating 'knowledge resources'), critical pedagogy (reflecting critically on the content and processes of learning in terms of the underlying premises and values