Working in partnership with Mumbai-based Zaya Learning Labs (www.zaya.in), Visions launched a new e-Learning Program for the benefit of schoolchildren across 9 schools in India in 2016. This innovative new initiative is designed to promote learning advancement in Mathematics, English-language, and technology literacy for Grades 1-5 youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. The underlying intent is to reduce the learning gap, develop critical skills, and promote academic achievement in core subject areas.
This program currently provides more than 1,700 Indian schoolchildren with access to digital learning content through the Zaya Class Cloud device (and subsequent online platform) and the provision of tablet devices. This tablet-based, self-paced learning program is taking place at schools in 3 Indian states, including Tamil Nadu (6 schools), Maharashtra (2 schools), and Uttarakhand (1 school). Based off initial assessment data, an estimated 95% of children participating in the program live at or below the poverty line, including a majority (83%) of whom live in “extreme poverty” based off international poverty definition standards.
Goals & Objectives
- Improve student understanding and achievement in Math and English.
- Improve student understanding of technology through developing digital learning skills.
- Positively impact student school attendance and overall enthusiasm about learning.
- Show students how to access educational resources, either online or offline, to improve their conceptual understanding of subject material in various subjects.
- Increase the accessibility and ease for teachers in utilizing digital learning resources to supplement and facilitate in-class instruction.
Equipment & Digital Learning Software
Each of the 9 participating schools received 1 Zaya Class Cloud wireless routing & storage device, 25 Lenovo tablets, 25 personal headphones, 1 back-up power supply device, 1 internet routing device, and a stock supply of teaching aides, books, & materials. All tablets come pre-loaded with English-language and Mathematics-learning software. Visions is concurrently working on digitizing its own uniquely designed Leadership & Life Skills curriculum, which we plan to make available on all tablet devices in 2017.
Teacher & Staff Training
Each participating school is invited to send 3 representatives (2 teachers & 1 administrator) to participate in a biannual training program to learn about the technology, increase their own proficiency & skills, and receive training in the “blended learning” methodology (that is, syncing the tech-based learning with in-person facilitation, all of which is tied to grade competency curriculum). Additionally, Visions provides supplementary leadership & capacity-building trainings and year-round support to all teachers & administrators at each of the participating schools. The first biannual training was held in December 2015 in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, and the second training was held in June 2015 in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu.
As an incentive for teachers to stay beyond regular school hours and implement ideas for how best to utilize this equipment/program, a small monthly stipend is provided to 2 teachers per school who have assumed responsibility for managing the program and all equipment. Further, an annual “Top Teacher Awards” competition encourages teachers to go above and beyond in their work, driven by an annual cash prize. The first winners of our 2016 “Top Teacher Awards” were announced in September 2016.
- Danish Mission Elementary School – Melvalai, Tamil Nadu
- Danish Mission Elementary School – Pudukuppam, Tamil Nadu
- Ramana’s Garden School – Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
- Sakhi for Girls’ Education: After-School Center for Slum Dwellers – Mumbai, Maharashtra
- SAWED Radiance School for Tribal & Dalit Children – Dindigul, Tamil Nadu
- Sparsh Charitable Trust: After-School Center – Mumbai, Maharashtra
- St. Anne’s Nursery & Primary School – Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu
- St. John Vianney’s Primary School – Palliyadi, Tamil Nadu
- St. Norbert Primary School – Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu