Asha Chennai has been using technology to better education. There are many ways to use technology to improve education. We have chosen a few ways that we think will yield the most result. This website highlights our various initiatives in using technology to improve education.
Technology Aided Classroom
Asha Kanini is an application focused on helping teachers identify appropriate content for the particular lesson they are teaching and effectively use it to improve student learning. Asha Kanini is available on Windows and Android. It has been designed with the needs of remote rural schools in mind. It is network independent, platform independent, curriculum/language independent and supports any content that can be viewed on the specific device.
Asha Kanini includes a collection of content already available for free on the web and mapped them to the appropriate lessons for each class. A lot of content that is included was developed by private organizations and made available to the public for free. There are contents developed by Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) specifically to be used in Government Schools. The Government of Tamilnadu has created content including those published with the text books like Diksha.
Asha has also created its own content that bridge any gaps and bring these contents together in the form of lesson plans. Asha Kanini was originally developed to help teachers teaching at Tamilnadu schools based on Samacheer Kalvi. It has since been made available for UP state board as well. The content can easily be mapped to suit any curriculum as needed.
Asha Computer Science Curriculum
Asha Chennai has been teaching computer science to students in primary and middle schools in Tamil Nadu for the last 5+ years. There was no curriculum available for Computer Science in Tamil Nadu state board. We considered the CBSE curriculum and felt it was very outdated and proceeded in an unengaging manner.
We have developed a curriculum on our own. The curriculum covers both digital literacy (how to use a computer?) as well as computational thinking (programming computers to do various things). Our goal was that the curriculum should be implementable even in schools with very limited infrastructure. We still serve several schools where the only computer is the laptop that our teacher carries with her.
Computer Science is not something you learn with a pen and paper. Children need to actually do thing on a computer to learn. In our curriculum we lay emphasis on project work. We devote the entire third term (Jan to April) to project work. Classes 4 and 5 develop a presentation while classes 6 to 8 develop a programming project with assistance from the teacher.
Assessments And Analaytics
At Asha Chennai we are now supporting about 100 government schools spread across Tamilnadu. With this kind of scale we felt the need to develop metrics to tell us how our projects are doing and start measuring the impact we are having and fine-tune our actions so as to improve the outcome. However assessments at the government schools in Tamilnadu is completely broken and the data coming from that is totally unreliable. Therefore we started conducting our own assessments starting from 2014-15.
We conduct oral assessments aligned to Pratham’s ASER in Oct/Nov of every year. This provides a basic tool to measure where every school / child is. It provides a score that can be compared across schools/regions and also importantly across time to measure the progress of a school over the years. We also conduct a written assessment in March to give us a more detailed picture of the gaps in learning.
Asha Chennai has been collecting data over these years and we have been analysing this data along with a lot of data about the schools from the UDISE database as well as sociological data about the children we ourselves have been collecting. In the future we also intend to correlate this data with the usage data coming from Asha Kanini.
Asha Rural Technology Center
Asha for Education, Chennai in partnership with Pravartak (subsidiary of IIT Madras) will establish 3 Rural Technology Centers in Thiruvallur District. We hope to expand these to many more centres over time. Asha’s program will consist of three parallel strategies. Asha will partner with higher secondary schools in these villages and help the schools with their curriculum with emphasis on hands-on learning and project based activities.
Asha will establish a technology center in these same villages and offer more comprehensive courses introducing computers, programming with simple tools, and offer an insight into the latest technologies. It will further expand to also teach them programming with hardware sensors, actuators, etc. In addition to these, the centers will also be a digital library where children of all ages can come and play educational games and gain experience with new technologies like 3-D printers, programmable Robots, Drones 3-D virtual reality lessons in science etc.