There are many ways that ICTs can play a role in making education more effective and efficient. However, as our examination of One Laptop Per Child policies a few weeks ago demonstrated, simply distributing technology to classrooms or children in the developing country is not sufficient. Instead, a more nuanced and holistic approach is necessary. In India, the IT@School program addresses some of these concerns.
The IT@School program was begun in 2001 by the government of Kerala, India. It is intended to foster ICT-enabled education in the state. The program is multifaceted and includes a focus on: e-governance, content development, field level mechanisms, capacity building, FOSS initiatives, and impact studies as a means of evaluation. Some of the specific projects of IT@School include: a centralized textbook indent system, e-textbooks, a centralized resource website for students, an animation movie making initiative called Animation Training Program for Students (ANTS), ICT training for teachers, and online registration forms.
This project addresses many of the topics we have discussed in class– like open source and open content (e.g. FOSS) and training needs (via ICT teacher training). It also has a strong monitoring and evaluation component, which is key to any successful development initiative. It focuses on sustainability of its technology through “Hardware Clinics” where the computers and other equipment are repaired right in the schools. IT@School also addresses infrastructure needs by creating a unique scheme for electrification of classrooms and providing broadband internet connectivity for teachers and students. It incorporates an evolving constructionist vision of education– with school wikis for collaborative learning and student driven learning via projects like ANTS. This is a large-scale project– reaching over 12,000 schools– and seems to have thought through many of the common pitfalls of ICT-based education projects in the developing world.This unique and holistic approach to ICT-based education focuses on using ICTs to enable learning, not just the learning of ICT skills but learning as a whole, and may serve as a model for other ICT4education projects.