Education in today’s world is considered a democratic right of every child. Enabling quality education is the 17th global goal in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. So, how far are we to achieve this? And what are we doing to enable a personalised learning experience for last-mile learners?
Personalised Learning: A way to Quality Education
Personalised learning puts children at the heart of learning by empowering them to learn at their own pace. It enables a non-judgemental familiar environment where no child is left behind as they are given access to curriculum-aligned content based on their learning abilities and gaps.
Personalised learning harness different learning interests of students, which increases their engagement. With increased engagement, students tend to spend more time learning. And at the same time, if given access to enjoyable digital learning content, they don’t just memorise concepts but think, analyse and absorb, resulting in improved understanding and results.
Using Technology to establish a personalised learning environment
Technology has been playing a key role in addressing the diverse learning needs of students. Most students use digital tools to search and process information that demonstrates an understanding of concepts in their preferred way.
Online practice tests, mock tests, and sample papers are examples of how technology has started enabling a personalised non-judgemental learning environment for students. Another example of a personalised learning model is, digital content available on youtube and other similar platforms that allows students to learn enjoyably where they play content repeatedly until they are confident. Technology in education has empowered students to learn from diverse content but is it really helping them cope with their learning gap?
No, because some students struggle to find the content in one place, leading to distraction. Students of remote regions of India still struggle with poor internet connectivity, inability to derive their interests, unable to find content in their preferred language, and so much more.
So, How do we add value to personalised learning using technology?
For students who are at risk of dropping out of school
Every year, a large number of students across India drop out of school, resulting in a decrease in the literacy rate. Some common causes determined by the National statistical survey are:
Therefore, to control the dropout rate, we should emphasise using technology as a tool where students can access a diverse range of enjoyable learning content. An opportunity to switch to junior class content to cope with gaps and access to non-academic content for their holistic learning.
For students who struggle with Life-long learning gaps
Life-long learning gaps in the classroom occur when students skip classes, miss going to school, hesitate to ask doubts, and because of many such reasons. In these situations, they get promoted to senior class based on their aggregate but still lack understanding of the concepts and topics taught in junior classes. If we recall our childhood, we can also clearly collect experiences where we missed out on learning but were still promoted. But, lifelong learning is a student’s need that derives their interests in learning, and competence boosts motivation and communication and improves their overall understanding based on age.
Thus, for personalised learning of these children, it is important to give them content that keeps them engaged, like enjoyable animated educational video lessons for practical learning. Further, to help students cope with the lifelong learning gaps, we should give them access to the content of all classes and let them decide what they want to learn, what their gaps are, and how they want to work. Here, the focus should be on establishing a non-judgemental environment where they can freely learn from the content of different classes.
For students who suffer learning gaps due Covid induced lockdown
Closures of schools have been a common tool in the battle against COVID-19. As per the surveys, it is evident that less than 8% of children from rural India attended online classes during the lockdown. The gap was specifically for students in remote regions because students who had access to smart devices somehow continued their learning. Therefore, post covid, we all have been focusing on bridging the digital divide that has led to learning gaps. A few months now, the state governments started promoting digital content by distributing digital resources, but some areas still remain untouched or struggle to find relevant content in one place, better internet connectivity, and so much more. Here, it is important to give them access to learning solutions that reduces their dependency on the internet, have enjoyable learning content, and allow them to access the content at their own pace.
How have we started establishing a personalised learning environment?
To help reduce the risk of dropout
One most prominent reason of dropout is children of migrant workers who are taken by their parents to their place of work. All these children are the most affected & are denied access to quality education, health, and proper nutrition all their life. While working with these groups of children, their teachers told us that “…children of migrant workers go through the most emotional turmoil and with continuous changes in their life they either drop out from school for relocation or lose interest in education because of learning gap …”
To help these children catch up with age-appropriate learning levels, we, with the support of various NGOs, provided them tablets with preloaded digital content on SD cards for all classes in Hindi and English Medium. With personalise tablets in hand, they could change their classes anytime to learn from junior class content based on the learning levels in a non-judgemental environment. This way, we have seen students cover learning levels based on their age, increased interests, and enrolling in schools back.
To cope with life long learning gap
Students in remote areas of India are not involved in regular learning, which is why the gap keeps increasing, and they tend to lose interest in learning. Therefore, to help these children cover their learning gaps in a non-judgemental environment, we, with the support of various state governments, NGOs, and CSR partners, have started enabling enjoyable digital content on tablets for all classes in Hindi, English, and other local languages language. This way, we have seen students switch to the content of junior classes & learn what they missed for years.
To bridge the digital divide
From the discussion with principals, teachers, and coordinators of government schools and NGOs, we found out that when students returned after COVID, teachers noticed the difference in students’ confidence and learning. Some students struggled with several months of the academic gap, which varied for all students. For teachers, it became difficult to identify individual students’ learning gaps and then work with each of them to fill their learning gaps. To solve this, we, in partnership with government schools and NGOs, provided students personalised learning tablets. All the tablets are given with offline digital content for their classes and one juiour class content. For example, in one school, content of classes 9th and 10th was given to help students cope with their learning gap. As a result, we saw students of class 10 watching video lessons of class 9th to cover their gaps and pass with flying colours.
Personalised learning environment has the heart of every child. It allows them to learn based on their learning levels without being judged by anyone. We believe
“Education Technology has the power to personalise learning for every student.”
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