Technology-enabled learning solutions to enhance student achievement

January 2016

Countries across the globe are adopting Education Technology (EdTech) to deal with the toughest problems in education. Technology allows for personalising learning, building capacity of teachers and driving decisions based on real-time data. Across the world, governments have played a crucial role in setting strategy and implementing EdTech programmes at scale. In India, the government has also recognised the role of EdTech as a critical means to achieve educational objectives, and made efforts towards integrating technology in school education through policies such as the ICT@Schools scheme.

To effectively integrate technology in the education system, the government requires a holistic approach that should start with setting an ambitious vision and plan. This vision should focus on the key levers of infrastructuredigital contentteacher training and data systems, along with strong monitoring and evaluation frameworks.

 

Innovative model of EdTech adoption to improve student learning outcomes: ICT Master Plans in South Korea

Since 1996, the South Korean government has made ICT the central focus of its education system. It laid out four strategic master plans on ICT in education, each spanning four years. In the first two master plans, the government focused on providing infrastructure in school, teacher training and centralised resources. It also provided a computer for every teacher, and ensured internet access in all schools by the year 2000.

The third and fourth master plans revolved around the use of available mobile technologies to increase access to quality education and promote a more personalised learning environment. This initiative, known as SMART education, focused on improving educational content, teaching and evaluation methodologies through technological innovation.

In order to efficiently execute these plans, South Korea established an independent body, Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS). KERIS was entrusted with the responsibility to coordinate the efforts of various ministries and private players towards the goal of integrating ICT in school education. Additionally, KERIS also became the central repository for providing access to all services related to ICT in education which include:

  • Self- learning platform called EDUNET with 16 lakh teaching-learning resources and 80% of all students registered.
  • Platform for training teachers with over 22,000 users.
  • Digital Textbooks on tablets embedded with content from EDUNET. KERIS signed MOUs with 10 private institutions to provide free-to-share educational content.
  • National Education Information System to increase the transparency of the education administration, reduce the administrative workload of school teachers and staff, and provide details  of all children and teachers.
  • Engagements to support developing countries such as  Colombia and Uzbekistan, in the use of ICT in education and to strengthen their national ICT education policies.

Recommendations for catalysing quality education at scale through technology

The Government of India’s Digital India campaign is a promising opportunity to revitalise our education system. It must holistically integrate technology to achieve our desired educational outcomes – improving student learning outcomes, building capacity of teachers, and improving accountability to create strong governance structures.

The government should start with establishing a strong, ambitious vision of adopting technology in education that goes beyond provision of infrastructure to schools and basic IT literacy to students. The government must focus on providing appropriate and reliable access to infrastructure, pedagogically sound digital resources for students and teachers, capacity building programmes to enable teachers to use ICT as well as remodeling teacher education using technology, and data systems for improved governance at all levels.

The government should set up an autonomous agency, similar to National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), that will manage the implementation of the ambitious vision. The agency should be staffed with diverse talent who would help better coordinate the efforts of multiple state governments as well as of private players. It should also define technical standards for implementation and monitoring frameworks for evaluation purposes. The agency should convene multiple stakeholders, identify innovative and successful models, scale these across the country and share best practices with the larger ecosystem. This agency should have the required capacity to help states build and implement their respective visions of technology in education.

 

Specifically, some of the measures that can be adopted to achieve this vision are:

  • Infrastructure:
    • Provide ‘one-on-one’, four to six hours a week access to hardware and a high speed broadband connection to secondary and senior secondary students, and two-way interactive virtual class infrastructure to all upper primary classes. This should be followed by expanding the infrastructure provision to cover all primary classes. Edutel in partnership with Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore is providing Maths, Science and English instruction across 1,000 rural government schools in Karnataka, using a virtual learning mode. The sessions are facilitated by an expert teacher located remotely and are broadcast simultaneously in multiple classrooms.
  • Digital content:
    • Establish and define standards for content in consultation with domestic and international pedagogical experts.
    • Build an ecosystem for creation and translation of appropriate learning resources, make these available under open licenses and create incentives for private participation.
    • Enable localisation of high quality open-licensed material in various languages. An example of such content is Khan Academy-Hindi, a collaborative effort of Khan Academy and Central Square Foundation.
  • Teacher training:
    • Train teachers on effective integration of technology and equip them to use technology as part of their daily lesson plans in all pre-service and in-service training programmes.
    • Equip all teacher training institutes with high speed internet and devices for teacher trainees to access educational content.
    • Create a National Virtual Educator Training Programme, a web and mobile-based resource for teachers across the country. This programme should provide competency-linked blended courses, independent digital resources such as lesson plans in document or short video formats and peer learning opportunities to teachers. The Government of Maharashtra has already taken steps towards and is planning to train its teachers online. Teacher training programmes by the State Council of Educational Research and training (SCERT) will now be made available online for teachers across Maharashtra, making it easier for participants to engage in them as and when needed.
  • Data systems:
    • Build data systems to capture and disseminate data from formative and summative assessments that can be used to improve policy making and the teaching-learning process.
    • Build capacity of different stakeholders at the state, district, block and cluster levels to use relevant data for driving quality interventions. A further impetus towards enhancing the effectiveness of data systems will be to ensure transparency and access to the public.

As education technology is a nascent area, we need to track its adoption closely to understand its efficacy. Research, evaluation and monitoring of education technology programmes will help collate evidence specific to India and support the government to strengthen further policies for its adoption.

We have to measure the success of ICT in schools from inputs (for example, number of computers in schools) to its impact on student learning and teacher competency. Strong monitoring and evaluation frameworks will accelerate the scaling up of innovations that have a demonstrated impact on student learning and teacher training.

To know more about the role that technology can play in improving student learning, read Central Square Foundation’s report The EdTech Promise: Catalysing Quality School Education at Scale. For further queries, reach out at advocacy@centralsquarefoundation.org.