When we started iDream Education, both Puneet and myself personally visited every school where we set up a Tab Lab. Tablab is a custom designed plug and play tablet for schools students. Personally connecting to the finer aspects of hardware management, student engagement, ease of use and understanding the teacher’s psychology brought immense richness to our work.
It was our research to break open the usage, adoption and impact barriers to student centric digital learning in every government school we work with.
As we grew, I built a small vision aligned team, who starting doing a fabulous job in visiting the schools, setting up the Tab Lab and organising training for teachers and students. And therefore my direct connect with the schools stopped.
Until recently when we received a project to set up Tab Labs for some government schools in Maharashtra. Due to strict timelines, I realised we would more hands on the field. I was hesitant in the beginning because being on the field means odd hours of work, lot of travel, missing meals and holding onto the nature’s call for long times, but I am so glad today that I decided to go ahead.
Because when you are on the field, you come face to face with your stakeholders, the real users and your overall understanding of your own work deepens. At times it can get challenging because you do not know how will they react or what if something fails to work on the field. But then, there are also moments which inspire you and instil in you a strong sense of belief that you are heading in the right direction. In my recent trip to rural Maharashtra, I had one such experience.
On the first day, we visited a government school located about 230 Kms from Mumbai. The school was made of proper concrete building but it was a very rural area. It was located at the intersection of two villages and children from these two villages only attended this school. And I thought what could be more rural than this. But, I was so wrong.
Next day, we went 5 kms further inside and reached a small village of Morvel. As we took that final left turn towards the school, all I saw was 5 to 6 tin sheds kept one after the another.
This is how the school looked like.
Teachers told us that it gets unbearably hot during summers. Very difficult conditions.
And yet the bunch of teachers we met, were probably the most enthusiastic and committed government school teachers we have worked with. Their eyes gleamed when they saw the tablets and Marathi medium digital content. They of course had a lot of questions. Some of them were also very apprehensive of what burden are we going to add to their lives like other projects they have experienced earlier.
My team went about their job of setting up the TabLab. Within half n hour, the storage and charging rack was installed and tablets were stacked inside and tested. The set up was done.
A teacher came and asked me, “That’s it”. I who was waiting to hear this, replied in affirmative, “Yes sir, that’s it. This is how easy it is to set up the TabLab”. I further added, “And Sir, you will see soon how it is even more easy to use and maintain TabLab regularly”.
In that moment they all realised that maybe TabLab will not add up to their daily work but in fact simplify and empower them as educators.
I then gathered all the teachers in one room and spent about an hour with them to help them experience TabLab in action. Our training for the teachers on tablet usage in government schools is totally hands on, so that rather than listening or seeing they experience TabLab, its components, the ease of use and the value it brings to their teaching role and to their students.
We also took them through the basics of hardware know how and maintenance. I was thrilled to the core when I saw relaxed faces at the end of the training. They now knew how simple and powerful TabLab is and were excited to have TabLab in their school and use it to happily engage their students towards learning . This part, I was sure would anyways happen on its own too. TabLab has been custom designed to proactively excite students in rural India to learn and now after having worked in over 10 states, this is one part, we are extremely confident about.
This experience with teachers reinforced something which we have always believed:
Teachers in Government Schools are Inspired and if given the right tools can truly make a Difference
Teachers in our Government Schools are inspired and aligned. If their background, their work schedule and their current mindset is accepted and complemented with empowering tools, they can very well drive the education transformation in every school.
We were glad to see that our teacher in government schools are willing to work hard and put their everything just to see their children do well in life. In one school, as we got late, teachers waited till 8:30 PM in the night to help our team finish TabLab set up and be a part of the training.
TabLab with its plug n play design is the best suited digital learning solution for government schools
No technology based digital learning solution could have possibly reached the government school in Morvel. It is rural, has little access to most resources and doesn’t even have a building. Until Tab Lab, which could not only reach the school easily in the rear seat of a car but also get done with the set up within 30 minutes.
We had started iDream Education with a vision to take life shaping and growth oriented digital learning to every last mile learner in the country. And to see TabLab translating this vision into a reality was a moment of pride, happiness and inspiration for me and for our entire team. TabLab breaks open all infrastructural and psychological barriers to regular usage of technology in government schools. And these are no longer words. I now see this happening regularly in different parts of rural India.
Please do watch this brief video which we made a year back highlighting the concept of student centric digital learning via TabLab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXGpSd2pPHw
Do you know what was the icing on the cake? The teachers in Morvel were so happy that they presented me and my team with a coconut each. We had it on our way back and just loved it. 🙂
What has been your experience of taking digital learning to government schools? Do you think it is now a good time for state governments to look at tablet based learning labs?
Do share your thought with us.
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