28 July 2010

Low priced laptop for learners

"Finally realising his dream project, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday launched a $35 computing device that will be made available to ‘learners’ right from primary schools to universities..."

So goes a news report in today's edition of the Indian Express.  While it is understandably a great idea, I have never been able to find the actual manufacturer or seller's address in any of the media reports about this wonder gadget, which has the potential of revolutionsing the way our children learn.  I think that the HRD Ministry should begin processing MoUs with corportate bodies so that the gadget comes to market as early as possible.  Concurrently, the Ministry should also develope policies and programs to train teachers in guiding children to use the gadget in the right way.  Training can be given first to school head teachers and senior officers in the Ministry, who will in turn train teachers in the provinces.

With solar energy system built in the device, we can take it to remote areas as well, so that all children can derive benefits.

While the digital gap can be reduced by implementing education technology in school systems all over the country, the Ministry should take care that computer assisted learning does not replace simple activity based learning, unless the former is not advisable or not practically possible in any given situation.  There are many instances where computer assisted classroom processes have failed as they were proven to be far inferior to simple activity based ones; one classic example would be LOGO, a mathematics software developed and tried in high schools in the US a few dacades back.  Such costly mistakes need to be avoided if we aim to reach the UN Millenium Development Goals at least to some extent. 

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About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a retired K-12 Education Management Professional. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.