Smart classes and mobile technology is not only transforming education in highly paid private schools of metropolitan cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, but it is gradually making inroads in the government schools set up in the backward and rural areas of Rajasthan.
Pragyan, a project launched in 2018 by EdIndia Foundation in collaboration with the Rajasthan Council of School Education, is gradually transforming the learning environment in 100 schools of Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur districts of the State by use of technology through educational audiovisual (AV) content on smart TV and mobile App.
Pragyan focuses on positively impacting the quality of teachers and teaching methodology to make classrooms more interactive with teachers using simple technological tools to prepare for classes and teaching through e-content to encourage students to inquire, ask questions and develop critical thinking ability instead of rote learning.
Under the Pragyan project smart classrooms have been set up in 100 schools of Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur. Each school has been provided a 32” smart TV, internet router and Pragyan mobile App for teachers for accessing e-content for English, Maths and Hindi for classes 2nd to 5th. The e-content is based on state government textbooks while mobile App provides content for teachers to plan and prepare, including lesson plans, activity ideas, worksheets and for students content videos and power points. Pragyan also provides mobile based virtual classroom sessions for teachers and is making efforts to enhance teachers knowledge and expertise in ICT on Tech-pedagogy. The project was rolled out in August, 2018 when EdIndia signed a three year MoU with RCSCE and since then about 250 teachers and 5500 students have been positively impacted in the state, informed Pallav Tiwari, head of Pragyan project.
Teachers associated with the project shared how Pragyan has impacted teaching and learning in schools. “For past one year I have been associated with Pragyan and teaching Maths has become fun now with students being interested in the subject. I have attended workshops and prepare daily for teaching in the classroom by going through the videos on various lessons on Pragyan mobile app and use it to explain students in simple language with examples from their life. Even complicated topics such as fractions explained to students through educational videos on smart TV giving them clarity of the subject. This way classroom has become interesting with focus shifting from maintaining discipline to make students curious and encourage them to ask questions and develop critical thinking ability. It has also impacted the board result of class fifth students,” shared Rekha Batra, teacher in the Government Upper Primary School, Narsimhmapur Mahal, Jagatpura.
Shankuntala, head mistress of the school who teaches English, said that educational videos have made it easier for students to grasp the concept and learn the subject. “The workshop organized by Pragyan made us aware of the new methods of teaching. Despite time constraint due to my BLO duties, I make a point to go through the lessons shared on Pragyan mobile app so as to learn new ways of teaching which makes students interested in the subject. Now I encourage students to make simple sentences in English about the things and people around them by using the words that they have learnt in smart class through animated videos. Even for writing essays instead of dictating, I encourage students to make sentences on any topic by looking at the objects around them. They may even make sentences in Hindi and then translate it into English, she said. However, initially Shakuntala had faced resistance from parents who were apprehensive about the use of television by school. When she explained and even showed them that the TV would only show educational content, they relented.
Sushila Dhabai, Maths Teacher in GUPS, Sindhi Sanganer School, was earlier very sceptical about use of technology, but gradually has warmed to the idea. Encouraged with the response of students, she now even makes her own videos of teaching through smart classes and sharesthem to get feedback from Pragyan team. She is also encouraging other teachers to join the mobile App to make their teaching more effective.
“When Project Pragyan started I thought it is more admin related work that will burden us. I also had resistance to technology being never much compatible with use of smart phone and TV. However, following regular support of Pragyan team members and workshops organized by them, I now understand the utility of e-content in classrooms. Earlier, Í used to base my preparation only on textbooks and teaching used to be monotonous. Also, I could never get whether students have actually learned the concept or not.Now I use technology without any hesitation. Through smart classroom I now use simple animation videos on dividing chocolates to teach complicated topics like fraction.It has become easyand fun for me and students also comprehend easily. So, our job has become simple and result has improved with our school being awarded for 100% result,” Sushila shared.
Concurring with her, Rinku Jain, English Teacher in the Government Girls Upper Primary School, Sec -3, Pratap Nagar, said, “Since Pragyan has started working with us technology has become a regular component of my day-to-day classroom practice. English learning had never looked that easy with the blended mix of regular teaching and e content being played on Smart TV.”
Noticing the growing interest of students in smart classroom, Ritu Rani, Head Mistress of GUPS, Tiba Sheopur has arranged one more Smart TV from another source so that students could get maximum benefit. Ram Dayal, Maths teacher at GUPS, Dehlawas, shared that smart classrooms have made management of students easier for schools. “With the limited number of rooms available for us in an upper primary school, there was challenge to manage and run classes. Tougher it gets when we struggle to teach different topics for three classes in a single room. With the Smart class in place, we now select and use AV content which can cater to the needs of all three classes where class 3rd student is also engaged along with class 4th and 5th in the same subject,” he shared.
Lalita Gupta, Head Mistress of a Sanskrit school with 189 students, found that the oral learning of students has improved through smart classes. Their grasping of grammar is better. Maths teacher Shyama of the school found the activities conducted by Pragyan team members very helpful not only for maths, but even for learning topics in Hindi.
Ayan Chatterjee, Head of EdIndia Foundation, said that EdIndia believes that technology can change the education landscape of India. It is envisaging to create sustainable educational interventions leveraging ‘viable technology’ to mitigate the effects of unavailability of municipal teachers, while leveraging key teachers in reaching out to larger student audiences. It focuses on government education system to help teachers equip with child centred pedagogy and impact student learning by building conceptual understanding and developing critical thinking skills. It is leveraging the use of virtual classroom infrastructure to provide ongoing professional learning and development to teachers and students. Regular monitoring and assessment of teachers’ performance is done using an 18 point indicator framework using e-tools. Apart from Pragyan, EdIndia had set up Virtual classrooms in 480 schools of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai in 2012. Currently, it runs the Data Support project in 1500 government as well as government aided schools in Mumbai. This project leverages data analytics to convert data based on student’s assessment into usable dashboards for informed decision making.
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