The basic innovation that the Student-Designed Learning Content for Mobile Devices Project proposes is to provide rural and urban students with severe economic and linguistic challenges in India with technology and educational expertise sufficient to create student-centered, project-based learning environments that are challenged to create software and educational content relevant to up-coming national education priorities (e-slates and national 3G access). The vision of this project has been enabled by existing collaborations between ICIE, the ISTE affiliate in India, and it's grassroots connections with educational organizations in the slums of Mumbai and disadvantaged, rural villages near Puducherry.
This project will provide a marginalized group of students with the opportunity to develop basic skills and knowledge that underlie the STEM disciplines. Middle and upper class schools in India are famous for their STEM-rich curriculum and successful STEM-related expertise, however this kind of education does not extend past the more privileged classes to the children in poverty. This project will provide a window into how to extend the wealth of STEM+ knowledge and experience so that all children in India have access to strong STEM educational experiences.
The project staff is aware that technology innovation projects require specific design features, implementation strategies and goals that are critical in determining its effectiveness and ultimate impact on the participant population. Educational technology initiatives have the potential to empower and enhance the well being of a community when the context within which they are situated are carefully considered and when the community and culture is valued and integrated in the process of implementation at every level.
The following seven research questions have been written to ensure that the Student-Designed Learning Content for Mobile Devices Project consistently monitors critical factors around inclusivity (women, parents, local educational personnel) and infrastructure while it monitors factors that may provide important information about how to implement instructional technology initiatives that are informed by western expertise while valuing and empowering local ways of knowing and operating.
1. In what ways and to what extent does having access to digital devices in problem-based, exploratory learning environments empower both male and female students from economically challenged communities to develop basic skills and knowledge that underlie STEM disciplines?
2. In what ways and to what extent can limited physical environments and infrastructures be managed to support student engagement with technology and promote meaningful learning during both the short term of this project and the long term after the project has ended?
3. In what ways and to what extent can parents and existing community social structures be empowered to support the creation and maintenance of technology-infused, project-based learning environments in economically challenged communities?
4. In what ways and to what extent can existing educational personnel in economically challenged communities be motivated to support, scaffold, and maintain innovative, technology-infused, student-centered, STEM+ learning environments?
5. To what extent and in what ways do students' engagement in using innovative technology increase their interest in and engagement with more formal, STEM learning?
6. In what ways and to what extent can expertise from internationally-based, technology-using educators be leveraged to support grassroots instructional technology efforts such as this one?