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Teaching through technology

Laptops are being used to teach reading and writing in the duration of 30 days with the help of multimedia under a literacy programme called ‘Tara Akshar literacy,' by Development Alternatives under the Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) programme. Around 42,000 rural women across the country have benefited through this programme.

Says Kiran Sharma, project director, PACS:"In four weeks' time, we have trained the women who had never picked up a pencil in their life. Today, they can read and write." Sharma further added that the first 18 days are spent inculcating sounds of letters and letter groups by using advanced memory techniques on a laptop and the next 12 days are spent on enhancing the ability to read words and sentences and on the last day, students are assessed through a written test.

Harpyari, 34, feels elated, as she does not have to depend on others to tell her which bus to board, she can read the number herself now.” I can also read letters and tell the time myself," she adds.

Shared access to computers

Similarly, multiple mouse on a single computer are being used under a project by Microsoft that allows multiple coloured cursors to co-exist on the monitor, along with numerous games with educational content. Trials with both single-mouse and multiple-mouse suggested that children are more engaged when in control of a mouse. Therefore, multiple-mouse increases overall engagement, or connection with on-screen content.

Explains Vidya Natampally, director (strategy), Microsoft Research India,” A distinct feature observed in the use of computers in schools or rural kiosks in developing countries are the high student-to-computer ratio. Here, multiple-mouse system helps to a great extent."

Similarly, another project - Digital Study Hall (done in collaboration) seeks to help disadvantaged children from slum and rural schools.” We digitally record live classes by grassroots-level teachers and distribute them to rural and slum schools, on DVDs," adds Natampally. It is a collaborative project between computer scientists and education experts.

White boards

Computers are extensively used in all formal and non-formal schools of Deepalaya, an NGO. Under its Motorola Project, electronic boards with electronic pens are used by subject specialists that enable them to take multiple classes simultaneously in two other schools.

Informs T K Mathew, secretary and chief executive, Deepalaya: "Among our various projects using technology, one of them uses latent talent of students wherein students perform (like sing or dance), shoot it, and further, view it on screen which helps in their greater involvement besides enabling them to evaluate themselves."

He further added that for the speech and hearing impaired, there is a special software that enables learning faster through the use of varied sounds and images.

Virtual learning

Similarly, Millennium Schools (Educomp) provide a WiziQ platform, enabling students to connect live anywhere in the world using the virtual classroom software through live audio-video communication, chat, content sharing, and session recording capabilities.

In a virtual classroom, there is an interactive synchronised collaborative environment where one can communicate on one-to-one basis using a microphone, chat and share whiteboard (similar to a blackboard).

Informs Rita Kaul, principal, Noida, Millenium Schools:"One of our teaching aids includes modules, prepared on every subject, which are interactive and engaging for students. Besides interactive boards, we also have internet access in classrooms wherein teachers can access information in class as well, if required."

She added that plans are underway to get online lectures from IIT Madras to these schools. Similarly, Edulearn, a Learning Management System (LMS) suitable for primary and secondary schools includes features like quiz, homework, forum, blogs, course packaging, and podcasting among others.

Source:  The Times India, 31 Mar 2008, 0029 hrs IST,Sakshi Khattar
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