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Interview

Learning Delight, Educating Rural India with the Power of Technology

Vandan-Kamdar-Parinita-Gohil-Harshal-Gohil

Learning Delight is a project with the aim to revolutionize the education quality by digitizing the schools in rural and Semi-urban area. It builds on the government’s efforts of supporting and promoting the use of technology in Indian schools.

Learning Delight was started with 5 schools and is currently functional in 6,100 rural government schools spread over 8 districts of Gujarat. Hence, it aims to contribute in the vision of our Prime Minter Narendra Modi’s ‘Better India’.

To talk about these trends and their relevance in the rural education sector, Ekta Srivastava, Education Technology talks to  Parinita Gohil- Co-Founder, Harshal Gohil and Vandan Kamdar Founders, Learning Delight…

Please tell us something about Learning Delight, its concept, and journey so far

Learning Delight was founded in the year 2011. We are a start-up that aims to provide digital learning tools that can aid teachers and engage students in the rural and Semi-urban area.  Children today don’t just need grades and high scores as part of their academic life, what they require is applicable and feasible education and Learning Delight strives to fulfil this gap. The most unique feature we believe is that we start at the bottom of the social pyramid, targeting the rural and semi-urban areas. With Learning Delight we want to make learning a delightful experience by incorporating animation, riddles, puzzles and stories that are aligned to support teachers and enhance the quality of student engagement – based on state board curriculum making prescribed textbooks fun and easy. It is a teacher-centric software tool meant to aid teachers in a classroom through the use of technology they already have in their schools. We started by providing solutions for Government Primary schools and have steadily grown over the last 6 years. Our content has been approved by the GCERT (Gujarat Council of Education Research and Training). Learning Delight is currently functional in approx. 7,000 rural government schools spread over 13 districts of Gujarat.

How is Learning Delight planning to add value of IT to the Indian education system?

Learning Delight creates education tools that enable ‘experience based education’ in rural schools and is offered to communities by linking these resources to public or private resources. It is tailored to support needs of students and teachers in the rural areas. We maintain the project by offering long-term support for every installation also bringing accountability for the money spent. Our software has digitalized existing teaching practices and has created E-books from Gujarat State Board text books thereby making information on the software, relevant and familiar to teachers. It is based on the premise of a 3-click principle, where a teacher just needs ‘3 clicks’ on the computer to understand and use the software in classrooms. This caters to the problem of low technology know-how among teachers. Currently, we cater to class 1-8

Do you think India has adequate technology usage and adoption in the education sector? What more can be done in your opinion?

Technology presents an incredible opportunity to revitalise our education system and address the huge learning crisis that our country faces. Though the government has taken steps towards digitizing education, it has failed at the point of implementation, due to the lack of a comprehensive vision that links the use of technology for improving student learning, building teacher capacity or providing better governance. Also, although we do see significant investment in the production of e-content such as digitised textbooks, animations and videos, much of this is merely duplicating rote-learning methods and lacks strong pedagogical principles. Innovative technologies can create new forms of adaptive and peer learning, by increasing access to trainers and mentors, and providing useful data in real time. Some ways the Indian education system can leverage technology are:

  • Personalised digital learning platforms that allow students to learn and master skills at their own pace and help them receive instant feedback in real time.
  • Learning tools to address the diversity of languages and state curricula. The content could either be developed locally or high quality global content could be localised.
  • Professional development of teachers through blended courses where teachers learn on an online program in addition to working offline with a coach

If used correctly, technology can catalyse such initiatives by creating an enabling environment across the country.

The transformation from classroom learning and tuitions to non-traditional online learning aids is not easy. What challenges did you face?

We believe that grades and high scores are not a tool for learning; they are the end result. The challenge for us was to make the process of learning fun for both the student and the teachers. At Learning Delight, we have incorporated alternative teaching aids such as animation, riddles, puzzles and stories that are aligned to support teachers and enhance the quality of student engagement – based on state board curriculum making prescribed textbooks fun and easy.

Another challenge has been to allay the apprehensions of teachers in adopting these techniques. This is why we created a teacher-centric software tool meant to aid teachers in a classroom through the use of technology they already have in their schools. There were some obvious gaps in the market that we sought to bridge while coming up with a solution: Some of these were:

  • Language – Software available in the market was in English, the teachers had problems in grasping the language. They were more comfortable in the regional language.
  • Resistance to change in teaching technique
  • Hesitance to use the technology
  • No internet connectivity

Having addressed some of these issues has helped in easier adoption of the software by the teachers. They are more open minded once they use the software and realize how it actually helps them teach their students better and also helps keep the students engaged.

What technology initiatives do you see gaining maximum ground for Corporate Training, Vocational Education, and Skills Training?

We intend to start an initiative for various skill training at individual & corporate levels like training for ISO, Safety and ITI’s.

How, in your opinion, will Learning Delight solutions add value to education in a country where rural areas have such a high rate of dropouts?

Both Vandan and I have had an exposure to rural as well as urban education system during our growing up years. Since a very early age we found the gaps that existed in teaching techniques in the rural areas vis-à-vis the urban schools, even though the curriculum as per the state board largely remained the same. On interacting with children in rural schools to understand the quality of education they are getting, we came across a number of disparities. The chance conversation turned into curiosity as to why they are not receiving education as per the present standards which in turn, became a desire to upgrade, improve and thus revolutionize the rural education system in whichever possible. This is the ideology behind setting up Learning Delight and our technology. The LD software is intended to not only bridge the education gaps but also tackle with the ground realities most rural schools in India face. The advantages it offers include:

  • Regional Language OS: The UI, animation, riddles, quiz, etc. are also in regional language so that teachers don’t face any kind of language barrier.
  • Interactive interface: The software is incorporated with e-books that have audio, video, and images as appropriate, this enabled the teachers to use the software more effectively in the classrooms
  • Easy to use: The software is based on the 3-click principal making the UI simple for the teachers to understand and use
  • Offline implementation: Learning Delight is an offline software, therefore we don’t need to rely on internet connectivity to enable digital teaching

In terms of infrastructure, do you think the government can do anything for aiding this adoption?

Government has helped us in terms of infrastructure under SSA with a CALP (Computer Aided Learning Programme). Under this scheme, government has invested large sum in providing computers and 42-inch LCD screen in primary schools in public sector. Luckily, in Gujarat 93% of Primary & Upper Primary government schools are equipped with this infrastructure. We use government’s infrastructure to deliver our software for aiding teachers & students.

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