Digital learning: Way forward for education in tier II and tier III cities in India
Recently, the government announced the M SHRI scheme to upgrade 14,500 of the one million+ government schools with modern and green infrastructure. This is a positive step, and will no doubt result in greater teacher and student motivation and will help to address the learning gap in India.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2018, over 25 percent of students in Standard VIII are unable to read a text that is in Standard II, while only 28 percent of students in Standard III can perform at least subtraction. Schools in Tier I cities perform better in terms of access, facilities, and learning results, but those in rural India still fall behind.
RENEWED FOCUS ON EDUCATION
However, the Digital India Mission and NEP 2020’s renewed focus on education offer a significant opportunity to reinvent our educational system and make it more comprehensive, equitable, and high-quality by using disruptive technology.
The effects of the pandemic revealed the shortcomings of the hard and soft infrastructure. Since then, numerous plans and public-private alliances are being carried out to put large-scale projects in Tier II, III, and IV cities.
The effectiveness of these activities will determine how quickly the learning inequity is reduced. Here, technology plays an effective role as it enables the creation of scale, the achievement of teaching-learning objectives, and the expansion of access to intriguing study material across media.
THE FIVE STEP STRATEGY
Furthermore, we need to adopt a five-step strategy to create a top-notch educational ecosystem in rural India:
1. ADDRESS DIGITAL DIVIDE
First and foremost, it is important to address the digital divide. Education is not widely accessible since 70 percent of schools lack digital infrastructure.
As we know, blackboards, desks, and chairs are part of each and every classroom. Similarly, it is important to include teaching-learning tools, teacher development, multimedia materials, analytics, and dashboards to track progress in the digital classrooms.
2. SOLVING ENGAGEMENT PROBLEM
Second, multimedia content that accommodates a range of learning styles can help solve the engagement problem. This correlation has been demonstrated by several studies. It is challenging to sit during class trying to understand things.
It takes creativity, concentration, and focus to imagine the process of photosynthesis or life in the Indus Valley. Instead, learning can be made interesting and understandable by multi modal content like movies, simulated experiments, animations, games, etc.
Thus, this collection of easily accessible content and co-developed tools can help teachers save time and also help them to combine self-learning with supported learning and give students back control over their learning.
Aside from that, the periodic, personalised, and adaptive tests can tell a teacher what each student needs help with, so they can teach in a more personalised way.
3. FOSTERING 21ST CENTURY ABILITIES
Third, fostering 21st-century abilities such as creativity, communication, cooperation, and critical thinking through controlled exposure will go a long way toward developing tomorrow’s leaders. Students in rural India often miss out on these important chances, so they should be part of the curriculum.
4. DIGITAL REVOLUTION
Fourth, the digital revolution cannot be ignored by educators. They need appropriate training in digital teaching methods because they are the decision-makers in the educational system.
To build a complete and sustainable ecosystem that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and helps move away from the idea of the teacher as a transmitter of information and toward the idea of teaching and learning as a transformation.
5. CREATING LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Fifth, it is very important to create a learning environment for students, even after school. BharatNet is a government initiative that aims to connect almost 2.5 lakh gramme panchayats in India to the internet.
With this, the access issue is beginning to be resolved, but the quality problem still exists. Giving students low-cost cell phones with inexpensive EdTech apps will enable them to enhance their in-class learning with high-quality after-school instruction.
There are still many issues, like teacher absenteeism, a shortage of qualified teachers, dropout rates, and low learning outcomes. Tech-enabled learning in rural Indian schools has the potential to draw children back and keep them coming back to the classroom.
These days, technology is linked to us in many ways in our daily lives. It has helped improve the threads of our networked societies, caused the hastening of processes, and created more brain space for higher-order skill development.
It can connect and entertain an often boring subject or class and move the entire world toward achieving equity in one of our most important sustainable development objectives: quality education.
–Article by Arindam Ghosh, Head of Strategy, Schoolnet & Devika Rae Chandra Assistant Manager, Office of Strategy, Schoolnet.