A NEW HOPE? By sheer size alone, India presents an attractive market for any entrepreneur, let alone those in education. With an estimated 500 million Internet users by 2017, the country appears to be laying the infrastructure to support digital learning.
Unfortunately, in India—as in many other developing countries—technology has often been deployed more as a marketing tactic—and not always put to good use. Even though the government has invested millions outfitting schools with new tools, few teachers adopted them because local authorities “did not create an inclusive strategy and lacked a teacher-training framework,” according to the first of two new reports (PDF) from the Central Square Foundation, a New Delhi-based nonprofit focused on education research. A lack of state oversight and accountability meant that “impact evidence of ICT implementation is weak,” and the report demands that future funders of education technology initiatives must insist on transparency around student outcomes.
An accompanying report suveys over 1,500 teachers (PDF) and offers more specifics on how technology is being under-utilized. Most IT training for teachers focuses on operation of software and devices, rather than incorporation into teaching practice. And although 83 percent of teachers reported using computers, there is a stark digital divide in infrastructure, as only 12 percent of teachers in rural areas report not dealing with any electricity or hardware problems on a regular basis.