The CoSN Senior Delegation to India met with school administrators, teachers and students on Monday, November 16, 2015 at two schools in and around New Delhi. Both schools receive support and guidance from the Learning Links Foundation (http://www.learninglinksindia.org/) a Not-for-Profit Trust established in 2002 whose vision is a future where education is optimally delivered and learning is truly inspired. Learning Links provides consulting and management services to improve learning, promote innovation, foster 21st century skills and enable systemic changes in education ecosystems across India and the Asia region.
The first stop for the CoSN delegation was the Ramjas School in New Delhi. Principal Dr. Rachna Pant welcomed the group and presented an overview of the school’s participation in the HP National Education Technology Assessment (HP NETA) Pilot Project. Dr. Pant shared how technology tools and professional development are used to innovate and transform learning for both teachers and students. The HP NETA program provided the Ramjas School learners with their initial experiences in one-to-one computing with mobile devices. Now in its second year (the program began in September 2014) the impact on teaching and learning has already been profound. Key findings from the program to date include increased student engagement and interest, higher motivation levels, increase confidence levels and ever growing use of technology by teachers and students. Dr. Pant gave the group an overview of 40 specific initiatives at Ramjas School.
Building a culture of community and understanding is a key focus for all at the Ramjas School. During their morning assembly on Monday, November 16, the student leader who was facilitating the assembly asked all students and adults in the room to participate in two minutes of silence for those who were killed in Paris last week during multiple attacks throughout the city. The notion that “peace is required” is a core belief at the Ramjas School. Students are taught that is critical that each one of them do their part to bring peace in their own community. Many of the projects the students engage in as a result of their access to technology empower the students to enable services to the community to support the notion of peace and well-being for everyone in their community.
One way that the Ramjas School seeks to cultivate deeper learning and greater good for the whole community is through a formalized debate process where students from each of the four houses in the school must defend an assigned point of view. The goal is to teach students how to make their perspectives known without resorting to shouting and screaming. Next year the process will expand to ask each student to articulate both sides of the same topic.
The second school visit site for the CoSN Senior Delegation was the Government Senior Secondary School in the Village of Carterpuri (named after President Jimmy Carter who with First Lady Roslyn Carter visited the community in 1978) in Haryana, just outside Delhi. The focus of the presentation was the Gyan Shakti Program – a knowledge enhancement program. Learning Links supports the effort by providing technology and teacher support during the school day as well as a community outreach program that operates after school hours each day. The school serves students from low income families, many of whom are “first generation learners”. The key emphasis is on leveraging technology to impact student learning success. That effort was specifically recognized when the school was named “Best in State” for the number of initiatives the school has implemented to impact student learning.
Students from the Government Senior Secondary School shared multiple examples of how they are leveraging their access to technology to advance their own learning and the well-being of their community. The theme of doing social good ran through each of the projects shared by the students. The following is a list of some of the student produced products shared with the CoSN group:
- School Website – first school to have its own website. Updated regularly to keep parents and community informed
- Dengue Warriors 008 – Collaborative project between students in Haryana and students in Delhi who tackled a common problem of dengue fever. The students’ ideology is based on the concept, “We have a common problem…let’s work on it together”.
- Development of Interactive Apps – Students built an interactive app to help the students who miss lessons in school so they can stay current with what is being taught in the classrooms. The example they shared was a lesson on the human skeleton.
- When students realized that the Mid-day Meal Program – provided for all students – required teachers to track and report multiple information statistics, they designed an online data reporting system for their teachers that has greatly simplified the effort for their teachers. Their online reporting program for teachers has since been adopted by other schools as well.
Members of the CoSN Senior Delegation left both schools with an understanding of the common challenges shared by schools in India and in the United States when it comes to meeting the learning needs of today’s students. All members of the delegation were inspired by the heroic work of the professional educators and the enthusiasm and passion of the students at both school sites. We were honored to be in their presence and learn from them.