I am Prateeksha Tiwari, currently a State Bank of India Youth For India Fellow of SBI Foundation. I work in Wankaner block, Gujarat in association with an NGO called Aga Khan Rural Support Programme-India.
I work on integrating simple, low-cost technology in regular classroom teaching. Rural schools face challenges of teacher shortage, outdated curriculum, not enough computers – all of which can be mitigated with technology.
I realize belonging to a family where daughters are brought up in a manner no different than sons is a privilege many do not have in India. I come from a family which raised and educated its only two daughters with great love. The cause of girl child emancipation through education is a cause close to my heart, and I actively participate in many awareness activities here in Wankaner where I am located.
Everyone – be it Ministry of Human Resources Development, Gujarat Government, school teachers or parents – believes learning and using computers for education is the need of the hour. But with student:working computer ratio as high as 30:1, not every student gets to use the computer, let alone be able to learn using one.
Technology is not a panacea for problems afflicting education. Merely replacing human instruction with technology will not produce any difference in learning outcomes. Because it usually involves a substantial investment, it is expected to bring miraculous results – which it cannot unless it is combined with motivated teachers, and an environment conducive for education at school and at home. Technology should be oriented towards supplementing the teachers, and be another tool in their armour with which they can educate better – and not replacing them.
The idea is to bring the benefit of technology-assisted learning to as many students as possible while making the most of limited financial and hardware resources available. My project endeavours to make a modest attempt at bridging the existing rural-urban and public school-private school digital divide using pre-existing resources (computers, multimedia content), free content (Microsoft Mouse Mischief, informative videos) and low-cost technology (computer mice).
Teachers in three project schools use multimedia content to supplement standard ‘chalk-and-talk’ instruction. By using audio-video medium; teachers find that student attention and interest are retained longer, complex and abstract concepts are explained easily, and subject understanding is improved.
After the lesson concludes, each student participates in a quiz based on the same lesson – with a mouse! Students answer multiple choice, image-based, and yes/no questions testing their understanding of the subject matter. It is a form of immediate revision – the kind which students perceive as a ‘game’ they play with their classmates. There is always a race to be the first one to answer correctly!
Consolidated result is displayed after every question answered by the students. While the students enjoy playing the ‘quiz game’ with their classmates, teachers get vital insight into level of students’ understanding of a particular topic addressed in the question. If many students do not answer the question correctly, the teacher can revise the concept immediately.
We encourage students to lead quiz sessions for their classmates, especially when the teacher is occupied with other duties. Apart from curriculum material, quizzes have been prepared to test general knowledge, social and health awareness, and moral science. Leader students learn to operate the computer in a much more nuanced fashion, enjoy playing the teacher for a while, and earn social capital in their peer group.
We believe technology in teaching is an excellent medium to promote interaction and understanding in classroom environment. In Wankaner block schools, we use it to teach and deliver more than just school curriculum. For slow learners of 3rd-5th standards, we use this pedagogy to improve reading and comprehension. In schools, we expose students to a myriad of topics such as diversity of Indian states and cultures, nutrition, career guidance, moral values – all in a fun and collaborative manner.
Going further, I am working on increasing the software capability (display individual performance, database management) and increasing the project’s span (use it for more subjects and take it to more schools). Your help in software development, research, and/or expertise in rural education will be greatly appreciated.
I am looking forward to collaborating with academics, educators, and innovators working in domains of educational innovation, education in developing nations, and/or technology.