In India, teachers have traditionally pushed textbook knowledge at students. Digital technologies, in contrast, require teachers and students to pull and process information themselves, limiting pedagogical use of ICTs. Should ICTs in schools then be introduced when there is a demand from teachers, and not be pushed in by the creators of technology? This article explores the possible consequences of a less-than-thoughtful introduction of ICT into our public schools in the name of digital inclusion.
The government’s ICT@School policy has brought computers, software and digital content to schools. But digital infrastructure by itself does not lead to active and enriched teaching and learning. Government policy does not sufficiently stress the importance of teacher training and mentoring in integrating ICT tools in pedagogy. This article illustrates the difference that relevant and innovative integration of ICTs in teaching can make.
Over the last two decades, several private ed-tech companies have rolled out ICT programmes in government schools using the BOOT model and proprietary software. However, the BOOT model bypasses the teacher and fails to demonstrate significant impact on learning processes or outcomes. This article discusses why we need non-profit, free and open source models of ICT in education to address the concerns of equity and inclusion, and points to Kerala and Karnataka’s exemplary models.
Nine years ago, the government primary school in Paritewadi village, Solapur district, was located in a dilapidated building, sandwiched between a cattle shed and a store room. There was no electricity and hardly any students. The innovative use of ICTs has brought more children to school, got parents involved with education, and taken students on new journeys of learning across the world. The school’s teacher writes about his innovations with technology in education.
Teachers are at the heart of the Digital Equalizer programme, which trains educators in the effective use of technology as a pedagogic tool, helping them bring creativity, diversity and real-life examples into the school curriculum through technology. The decade-old programme, spread over 15 states, has worked with over 89,000 teachers in government schools. DE’s internal assessment indicates that teachers in DE schools use technology in the classroom 2.5 times as much as non-DE schools.
The foot soldiers of technology in education—including policymakers and bureaucrats—believe that the introduction of technology by itself will transform education. At the other end of the spectrum are teachers who are resistant to change. This article draws on the author’s field experiences in Chhattisgarh, Odisha and other states to discuss the enablers and barriers to implementing a successful ICT at School programme on the ground.