Gaps and Opportunities of Ed-Tech in the Affordable Private School domain
Education technology interventions have the power to completely reinvent education for children in the developing world. But time and again these interventions have failed to reach their potential due to a lack of understanding of the school environment and users.
A team of researchers in Hyderabad, led by Kim Campbell sought to understand how education technology (ed-tech) solutions could be better designed to serve the needs of users in low-income private schools. As a result of their efforts, they've released a report - Education Technology in India: Designing Ed-tech for Affordable Private Schools(APS).Kim who was previously a consultant with Gray Matters Capital Foundation was ably supported by Benjamin Mayer and Hila Mehr who were the co-authors and designer, Cristina Maiorescu. Here, we'll list out the Gaps and Opportunities of Ed-Tech in the APS domain from the report:
- Technology and 21st Century Skills
Gap: Today’s workers and leaders require a number of skills influenced by technology and the Internet, from coding to Internet social media etiquette. The lack of Internet penetration in lowincome communities means that the 21st century technology skills expected of future generations are largely unfamiliar to low-income youth and teachers.
Opportunity: Technology class pedagogy should include broader lessons on the contextual relevance of technology to students’ preparedness for the 21st century. This would be a useful way to disrupt the perceptions techno-skeptics largely hold through their parents’ own limited interaction with technology. This would also be useful for teachers and parents to understand how ed-tech can relate to a child’s future professional ambitions.
- Global Aspirations
Gap: Almost all students, teachers, parents and school leaders in the APS referenced technology as something that would benefit children beyond the confines of their neighborhood or even their country. Many shared a deeper ambition for technology to keep their children relevant and successful in a global economy. There is an implicit value placed on technology’s ability to transcend classroom walls and connect students to the world outside of their immediate environment.
Opportunity: It is prudent for any service provider to market their product with reference to a connection to global standards or the ability to cultivate international skills.
- Gender Equality in Technology
Gap: Girls in low-income communities in India have less access to technology than their male counterparts. This creates inequality in learning opportunities and skill-building.
Opportunity: Interventions should be made to equalize access to Internet and computers for girls. This could be especially pertinent to technology integration in school since cultural gender norms often prevent girls from using neutral spaces like computer labs or even other people’s houses to access the technology.
- Mimic Students’ Natural Technology Consumption
Gap: Students with access to technology prefer to listen to music, play games, and watch movies. These uses of technology are the most entertaining, so when they come across standard educational games, they are considered boring.
Opportunity: Students’ interest in music, movies, and games should be utilized when designing educational technology software. Students will likely retain interest if the product mimics the way they opt to consume technology.
- Curriculum Alignment
Gap: School leaders have struggled to find ed-tech solutions that have curriculum aligned specifically to the State Board curriculum they are mandated to teach.
Opportunity: The content should be as closely aligned as possible to the school’s curriculum and State Board. Since the majority of APS are English medium, the content, except of that related to language instruction, should be in English. Ed-tech solutions should also be prepared to align to the new standards being established with the CCE.
Gap: Test performance ties closely with school leaders’ reputations and capacity to attract new students to their school. In addition, assessments are the most time consuming task that regularly takes teachers away from the act of teaching.
Opportunity: Ed-tech solutions should seek solutions that make assessments more efficient and should illustrate how your tech solution can help students perform better on their 10th standard exams.
- Safe Internet Browsing
Gap: Currently, there are no child-safe Internet filters that APS parents and school leaders trust to monitor students’ Internet use. School leaders, teachers, and parents are well aware that children could access inappropriate information and are susceptible to threats through the Internet. This is one of the primary justifications for not giving students access to the Internet. School leaders are especially sensitive to the negative impact the Internet could have on the school’s reputation if students are exposed to inappropriate content in the classroom. While they are not opposed to the Internet, they are not willing to risk the consequences without proper mechanisms for monitoring students.
Opportunity: Computer, tablet, and mobile systems that allow for student access to the Internet should have safeguards to ensure responsible use and close monitoring of each child’s Internet usage.
Gap: The prevalent pedagogical approach to teaching in APS is very rigid and relies solely on students understanding and retention of information from a lecture or through text. There are very few tools at a teachers disposal that can be used to teach students who are audio-visual learners or just to explain concepts that are better served by accurate images and diagrams
Opportunity: Technology that explains concepts using audio and visuals gives teachers another way of conveying concepts. It helps teachers reach students with different learning styles and can help make theoretical concepts more concrete.
- Spoken English
Gap: Even though spoken English is a highly valued skill in the APS market, the quality of spoken English education is fairly low. Children usually memorize English phrases instead of learning to comprehend the language. Additionally, students are usually unable to understand native English speakers’ accents.
Opportunity: There is a need for technology that boosts English comprehension and spoken English proficiency. It can be a particularly useful tool for delivering accurate, grammatically correct English that the children can mimic.
These were some of the gaps and opportunities within Cultural Integration and Content. Apart from this, the report sheds light on Hardware and a lot of other insights about Ed-Tech in APS.
Download the report here.