In July, we began to provide training for local teachers in charge of fourth and fifth graders at primary school with support from the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET). During the training, teachers learned the fundamentals about use of PCs, the Internet, and projectors, and were taught about the significance of using digital content in their classes. Moreover, they were briefed on how they could make their classes more participatory by the combined use of hands-on materials and digital materials. After attending the lecture part of the training, the participating teachers actually examined the digital materials to be used for each learning unit in line with the textbooks, created “lesson plans,” including methods to make their classes more participatory, and practiced giving classes based on the plans.
Since September, the participating teachers have been actually using digital materials in their school classes according to the plans made in the training. For example, in a class in which fifth graders learned about the tastes and digestion of food, the teacher introduced the internal digestion mechanism by using an animated film, and also provided the children with some foods, which they tasted to experience sweetness, bitterness and spiciness. Now, instead of making one-sided explanations in the classes, the teachers are providing children with opportunities to view animated films, enjoy quizzes, exchange their opinions, and answer easy questions designed to check how much they have learned, thereby making the classes more enjoyable for children.
Some of the children who experienced these classes commented, “I can now understand what was difficult for me to understand in the textbooks,” and “I want to listen to more stories and participate in more games and quizzes.” Teachers as well confirm the effect of using digital content in their classes. Their comments included: “Children are now concentrating more on the class and make better responses,” and “It has become easier for me to teach children about something that is difficult for them to imagine, such as the functions of body organs and outer space.”
Moreover, children who tended to be absent from school have begun to attend more consistently and those who did not do their homework are now learning new things more eagerly, and proactively participating in extracurricular activities. The use of digital content in the class is thus bringing about positive changes to children. Encouraged by these results, we will deliberate the provision of effective digital content for the learning units that children find particularly difficult to understand, while also improving the educational environment to help teachers give classes more easily.
A Ricoh employee taught local teachers how to use a projector (in Delhi in July)
Teachers created lesson plans for individual learning units (in Bihar in July)
A class of “Environmental Study” was given with the use of a projector (in Delhi in November)
Children watched an animated film intently(in Delhi in November)
In order to grasp the actual situation at the beginning of the program, we conducted pre-surveys in the three targeted areas, including interviews with local school teachers and representatives of the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET). The interview results highlighted personnel issues that may affect the outcomes of the program, as summarized below:
1. Frequent relocation of teachers may make it difficult for program-participating teachers to effectively demonstrate acquired skills in class
2. Some teachers lack a sense of quality of lessons.
3. Teachers lack skills and knowledge for creating interactive class activities
We also identified that, in order to improve the teaching quality, it is necessary to review the current teachers' manuals that provide only limited types of teaching methods and are not available in some subjects.
Bearing the above issues in mind, we organized a teacher's workshop in each area in June and July to provide an opportunity to study specific approaches to utilizing digital materials for creating interactive class activities.
In the workshop, participants listened to an introductory presentation on digital teaching/learning materials given by an invited specialist developer in this area, and then discussed possible specific usages of such materials focusing on the “life skills” class. Major opinions stated included the expected use of digital images and video clips in teaching unfamiliar and complicated concepts and topics to help students understand them better than they would only via verbal descriptions and printed pictures. A range of specific themes were brought up, from water absorption of plant roots, behaviour of unfamiliar animals, causes and effects of environmental pollution, to the story of an illiterate girl.
One regionally unique idea was proposed by participants for teaching the Indian family system. In that country, the family network is a fundamental element that governs Indian society, and as members of society, children need to understand the system that involves extensive, complicated structures. Teachers showed a strong interest in the possibility of using digital materials as an effective classroom aid to help students learn about this difficult theme.
The workshop also explored two other agendas: improving teachers' manuals and effective interactive approaches, and participants put forward a host of opinions and ideas. Suggestions for the former issue focused on inclusion of a number of new topics, such as sharing objectives of learning with students for each theme, and incorporating group/individual work in classroom activities. Proposals for the latter spanned from using photos and videos, asking questions in class, to offering extra-curricular activities.
The above opinions and proposals were collected to be used in developing training programs for teachers in consultation with the DIET, as a preparation for pilot projects planned for implementation at schools in each area from July to September.
Teachers' manual developed for the State of Bihar jointly by UNICEF and the Indian Ministry of Education. Due to a limited budget, coverage is limited to arithmetic and Hindi for the first 5 graders.
Teachers studying digital materials in the workshop
Discussing in groups possible effective usage of digital materials, including selecting appropriate topics and materials
Presenting discussion results by group
To implement the program on a full scale, we conducted a survey in Karimnagar, Andhra Pradesh, which is a candidate site for the program, in February in cooperation with the staff from Save the Children.
We visited some governmental agencies that were engaged in the creation of digital teaching materials and the training of teachers based on the materials, and interviewed officials of the agencies about the present situation with an eye to promoting the use of projectors and digital teaching materials at schools. We also visited a number of schools to interview teachers about their use of supplementary teaching materials and PCs and to ask children which subjects they liked and which they found difficult.
The results of these efforts revealed the following facts: Although the government had already created a range of digital teaching materials, they were not being utilized much at local schools, and teachers did not receive much training on the use of the materials in Karimnagar due to a lack of funds. In some of the schools, however, teachers had been creating and using a range of supplementary teaching materials, but large differences existed between schools and between teachers regarding the use of these materials.
Based on the survey results, we will examine what kinds of digital teaching materials can help teachers provide more interesting lessons to children and how to incorporate the opinions of the teachers in the training to be provided to them. Through measures such as these, we will make necessary preparations for the full-scale implementation of the program.
We met these children at one of the schools and found the wall of the classroom covered with various teaching materials
English teaching materials created by the
E-learning materials are already being used at this school