Robert Lalngaihawna, a high school mathematics teacher at the Government Hrangchhuana High School in a small village near Mizoram’s Aizawl city had been struggling to teach complex concepts to his students who come from nearby villages with almost half of them failing exams each year.

But now thanks to the new tripartite initiative ‘Connected Learning Initiative (CLIx)’ of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tata Trusts, 95 per cent of Lalngaihawna’s students are able to clear the math exams.

Graphic-based learning

Modelled around MIT’s EdX platform, CLIx brings together the concepts of Massive Open Online Courses (MooC) to primary education, wherein teachers can use graphics-based digital techniques to explain the most complex of topics in the simplest of ways.

“We saw how successful MIT’s EdX model was at the undergraduate level. That got us thinking about how we can apply the learnings in the Indian context at high school level,” Padma Sarangapani, Project Director, CLIx and Professor, TISS, told BusinessLine while talking about the inception of the CLIx initiative, which recently won UNESCO’s prestigious King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize, an international recognition for the use of Information and Communication Technologies in the field of Education.

“We studied the ecosystem and realised that while there are offerings for digital learning, there was nothing available in Indian languages at the high school level. Moreover, there were not many programmes for teacher education,” Sarangapani said.

By 2015, the three institutions together initiated the curriculum development and setup the team. While MIT helped build capacity for the Indian team, which meant getting the technology right to build an EdX kind of platform for students and teachers at school level. TISS also brought in a pool of people with different skill sets including Indian language expertise.

“We tried avoiding the idea of converting existing text books into e-textbooks. We’ve stayed away from such applications. We picked up, in consultation with teachers, concepts in Maths and Science that are difficult to understand for students,” Sarangapani said.

Four pronged approach

Several math modules created are now game-based. These games encourage students to deduce solutions and arrive at the answer, thereby helping improve learning rate.

With a four pronged approach that includes Classroom Activities, Lab Activities, IT enabled Activities and Review and Assessment to deliver learning outcomes, CLIx aims to provide high quality learning experiences in Hindi, Telugu and English. CLIx has helped improve the education outcomes in a total of 478 government secondary schools; covering 2,130 teachers and 32,437 students in the States of Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana.

Currently, CLIx is being offered in over 15 modules in Mathematics, Science, English and Digital Literacy in three languages in these schools in which ICT labs have been activated. About 1,770 teachers have participated in Teacher Professional Development workshops and are on mobile-phone enabled Communities.

And the results are speaking for themselves. In Lalngaihawna’s class, recent tests show that 95 per cent students have been able to clear the math exams while less than 60 per cent could do that just last year before the CLIx programme was introduced for class 9 students. “I find the different applications (within CLIx) very useful in my teachings. At first, the students were hesitating to use the computers as most of them are from the rural areas who do not have computer system at their homes. After 2 to 3 classes, they catch up with the system and their progress was fast beyond imagination,” Lalngaihawna said.

TISSx platform

While CLIx is currently open only for select schools, TISS is planning to open it up completely within the next few months so that any school teacher or students across the country can get access to the digital classroom. Once opened to everyone, the platform will be called TISSx.

“TISSx platform will be open to anyone who wants to access it. Moreover, Ministry of HRD is in the process of setting up teacher developer platform called Diksha. One of the first few teacher professional courses to be offered on Diksha will be CLIx.