Tuesday January 21, 2020
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The Unconventional Way of Learning: Textbooks Come Alive in Gujarat’s Schools

Outdated teaching methods, lack of interest among students and teachers, and gender discrimination were some of the common problems.

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Outdated teaching methods, lack of interest among students and teachers, and gender discrimination were some of the common problems. Pixabay

 In a small school near Bhuj in Gujarat, a group of class five students sit attentively in class, their eyes glued to an LCD screen. The opened science books on their laps have come alive on the screen before them, as an animated character explains the nuances of the chapter in their native language, Gujarati. Efficient learning, experts say, happens when students enjoy the experience, and in hundreds of schools across Gujarat, digitised school textbooks are opening up children’s minds like never before.

Learning Delight, the hand that is turning the wheel of change in 10,000 government schools, mostly in rural and semi-urban areas across the state, has been digitising the state curriculum since 2011, and has the approval of the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT). The idea is simple: use technology to aid classroom teaching to make the learning process more engaging, more efficient – and definitely more fun.

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This led the two to use technology and design, an e-learning tool that would aid classroom teaching.. Pixabay

So much so, that in a survey done in 350 schools where they have a presence, Parinita Gohil, co-founder of Learning Delight, said, “The dropout rate among children studying between Class 1 and Class 8 has come down by 6-7 per cent in the past five years.”

It all started a decade back when two friends, Harshal Gohil and Vandan Kamdar, who were doing their MBA, realised that there was a huge gap in education between schools in different settings. Outdated teaching methods, lack of interest among students and teachers, and gender discrimination were some of the common problems. This led the two to use technology and design, an e-learning tool that would aid classroom teaching.

“Harshal and Vandan began with a survey in five schools. Here they found that although there was no dearth in infrastructure – the schools had computers – there was scepticism about using them,” Parinita Gohil, who is married to Harshal Gohil, told IANS. The resistance mainly arose because “most teachers were not comfortable with the English language, were scared of using the computer, and apprehensive if the computers would replace their role”.

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There has, however, been an exception in this digitisation process – the language textbooks, be it English, Hindi, or Gujarati, have been left out. Pixabay

Therefore, the offline computer software that they developed was designed in such a way that a teacher’s presence was necessary in the class. The medium of instruction was Gujarati. “So be it any subject – science, math, social studies – the content was digitised in a way that through animation, riddles, puzzles, and stories textbook learning is made more interactive and fun,” Parinita Gohil said. The experts who designed the digitised content also had teachers on board.

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There has, however, been an exception in this digitisation process – the language textbooks, be it English, Hindi, or Gujarati, have been left out. “We don’t want children to leave reading their books. So, while we have digitised the grammar lessons, language textbooks have been left as they are,” she said.

Next in the pipeline is a mobile phone app being developed with a similar software and a foray into Rajasthan, for which software has been developed in Hindi and in tandem with the Rajasthan state education board. (IANS)

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Students with Higher Emotional Intelligence Better Academic Performance

Emotionally intelligent students get better grades

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A student needs to learn to manage his/her emotions in order to get better grades. Lifetime Stock

It’s not enough to be smart and hardworking and students must also be able to understand and manage their emotions — a skill known as emotional intelligence — to do better at school than their less skilled peers as measured by test scores, says a study.

The concept of emotional intelligence as an area of academic research is relatively new but there is evidence that social and emotional learning programmes in schools are effective at improving academic performance.

“Although we know that high intelligence and a conscientious personality are the most important psychological traits necessary for academic success, our research highlights a third factor, emotional intelligence, that may also help students succeed,” said Carolyn MacCann from University of Sydney.

MacCann and her colleagues analyzed data from more than 160 studies, representing more than 42,000 students from 27 countries, published between 1998 and 2019.

Emotional Intelligence
Students who are emotionally intelligent may be better able to manage negative emotions. Lifetime Stock

More than 76 per cent were from English-speaking countries and the students ranged in age from elementary school to college.

The researchers found that students with higher emotional intelligence tended to get higher grades and better achievement test scores than those with lower emotional intelligence scores.

What was most surprising to the researchers was the association held regardless of age, said the study published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

As for why emotional intelligence can affect academic performance, MacCann believes a number of factors may come into play.

“Students with higher emotional intelligence may be better able to manage negative emotions, such as anxiety, boredom and disappointment, that can negatively affect academic performance,” she said.

“Also, these students may be better able to manage the social world around them, forming better relationships with teachers, peers and family, all of which are important to academic success.”

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MacCann cautions against widespread testing of students to identify and target those with low emotional intelligence as it may stigmatize those students.

Instead, she recommends interventions that involve the whole school, including additional teacher training and a focus on teacher well-being and emotional skills. (IANS)