The experience of Learning maths will be much more fun and high-tech for the students of the Ramagondanahalli government school near Whitefield.
Students of classes IV, V and VI will have special online classes that offer practice exercises, instructional videos and personalized learning dashboards to help them study at their own pace, thanks to California-based Khan Academy. As the course will be in English, the students will also get to learn the language.
Lakhs of students across the globe have benefited from the free courses designed by the Khan Academy, founded by Salman Khan, an MIT graduate. It has tie-ups with institutions such as Nasa, the Museum of Modern Art and the California Academy of Sciences.
The course reached the school because of a group of activists who wanted to improve students’ grasp of the subject. “This will eventually expand to other government schools in the locality,” Viji Vennelakanti of Whitefield Rising, a citizens’ group, said.
The project was conceived during a workshop held by the Karnataka education department and Infosys Foundation in January. It was initiated by Whitefield Rising in association with Inventure Academy, Bengaluru and Altius Foundation, Chennai.
“After the workshop, pilot classes were run in association with Whitefield Rising for students of three government schools — located at Ramagondanahalli, Siddapura and Dommasandra — on the campus of Inventure Academy,” Viji said.
Kavya K, 11, says the pilot course helped not just learn maths, but also pick up English.
While the most basic course designed for class IV students will be in ‘Early Math’, the lessons will gradually move on to ‘Arithmetic’, ‘Pre-algebra’, ‘Algebra’, ‘Geometry’, and so on.
“This programme guides learners using state-of-the-art adaptive technology that identifies the students’ strengths and learning gaps. The video lectures and frequent testing ensures that the student has a good understanding of the fundamental concepts before proceeding to the next, higher concept. It also provides user-friendly, robust reporting to teachers and volunteers to understand the progress of each student and gives them tools to address learning gaps,” Viji said.
But how will government schoolchildren, used to Kannada medium of instruction, deal with a course in English?
“When Altius Foundation tried giving Tamil sub-titles to the material, they learnt that children spent more time trying to read Tamil and skipped the math part. So they had to do away with it. We are sticking to English,” Viji said, adding that during the pilot project, they figured out that this way the children also picked up English.
“During the pilot project, we had several kids who wished they knew what was being said in an American accented English, and understood what ‘Acorns’ or a ‘Ladybug’ meant, but that didn’t deter them from learning. They asked for help, they asked for online hints, they watched videos and they all loved it,” she said.
Nooraine Fazal, CEO, Inventure Academy, said, “The academy has been working with government schools for the past seven years because we believe in creating opportunities for good learning, and also are of the opinion that our students need to be sensitized about how privileged they are. The reason to bring in Khan Academy courses is to allow students of these government schools to eventually learn independently and learn the best.”
How it works
* Labs are set up for students to access the internet
* The free course material is accessed based on the class the student is in
* Student volunteers from Inventure Academy help these kids get through the course
* The school is required to pay nothing except provide space for computers
Setting up a lab
* An affordable solar powered UPS systems to ensure that students have uninterrupted power supply
* Reliable, affordable internet connectivity
* Networking, security and firewalls for these computers
Date: June 16, 2015