MIT joins collaboration to bring connected learning experiences to Indian students and teachers

Ratan Tata (Photo courtesy: Forbes)
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CAMBRIDGE, MA — Tata Trusts, a philanthropic organization that works to advance community and educational development in India, will collaborate with MIT and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to launch the Connected Learning Initiative (CLIx), a program to create new learning experiences and educational opportunities for secondary school students in India, in grades 8 through 11.

Ratan Tata (Photo courtesy: Forbes)
Ratan Tata (Photo courtesy: Forbes)

Over 1,000 schools across four Indian states — Mizoram, Telangana, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh — have agreed to participate in CLIx, allowing it to reach an estimated 165,000 students by 2018-19. The program will offer content in both English and regional languages, starting with Hindi and Telugu, and will offer curricula in English, science, mathematics, and professional values. An additional major focus will be professional development for roughly 4,400 teachers in the four states.

The announcement of the launch of CLIx, in Mumbai, was attended by Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Trusts; MIT President L. Rafael Reif; S. Ramadorai, chairperson of the board at TISS; S. Parasuraman, director of TISS; and representatives of the four Indian states that will participate in CLIx and of India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development.

“Tata Trusts have initiated partnership with the finest institutions globally to find innovative solutions to pressing social issues in India,” Mr. Tata says. “Indian education is at a crossroads: With large numbers of students entering secondary education for the first time in Indian education history, on one hand, and new advances in technology and connectivity, on another, we have a unique opportunity to provide quality education at scale. Through focus on English, science, mathematics, and values for work preparedness, CLIx promises to break new ground.”

CLIx will align technology-integrated offerings with existing school curricula. In sync with India’s national goal of improving the quality of secondary education, the initiative intends to leverage new technologies, enhance professional development of teachers, and create an open ecosystem to foster collaboration for innovation.

CLIx has its roots in a visit Mr. Tata made to MIT several years ago, in which President Reif and others from MIT’s Office of Digital Learning described edX — an online-learning platform, launched by MIT and Harvard University, that offers university-level coursework to learners worldwide. Inspired by the potential to use digital tools to enhance secondary education on a very large scale, Mr. Tata began the conversations that led to CLIx. After a year of work by Tata Trusts, MIT, and TISS, CLIx will leverage Open edX, along with other educational technology, to deliver active learning resources and experiences to students in Indian secondary schools.

“At MIT, we believe online learning technologies can offer teachers (and learners) everywhere the tools to transform the educational experience by engaging students in active learning that stimulates their curiosity, makes every lesson more memorable, and helps build skills relevant to students’ experiences,” President Reif says. “CLIx is the most ambitious effort to date to put these ideas into practice, and we are honored to be working with the Tata Trusts toward our shared vision of quality learning for all.”

CLIx will offer young people, especially from lower- and middle-income rural areas of India, access to interactive, hands-on learning experiences to advance their knowledge and skills, and to instill values to help them succeed as professionals and citizens, with a focus on cultivating students’ sense of professionalism.

CLIx’s instruction is largely interactive and hands-on, making it a valuable complement to the education currently offered in India’s secondary schools. It augments the existing curriculum in grades 8, 9, and 11, so that it does not interfere with the all-important Board Exams that Indian students take in grades 10 and 12.

A central focus for CLIx is building capacity in the system to help these educational enhancements take root and spread. Accordingly, the initiative will not only prepare teachers to blend online technologies into their teaching, but also build a cadre of educators prepared to become digital-learning innovators themselves.

The Centre for Education Innovation and Action Research has been created at TISS to incubate CLIx, and will serve as the key Indian collaborator with MIT.

“We believe that the CLIx initiative will help to energize and transform secondary schools by providing innovative and powerful experiences for students and for teachers,” says TISS Director S. Parasuraman. “The scale proposed and the effort to reach and connect with rural and semi-rural schools using Indian languages makes CLIx a unique initiative. Indian education needs scalable solutions to improve quality education for the large cohort of youth who are first-generation school-goers. It is a privilege for us to be working with the Tata Trusts and MIT and to lead CLIx in India.”

A strong focus on research, measurement, and impact assessment will inform the future scale-up of CLIx. Agreements signed with the four state governments participating in CLIx will leverage and strengthen existing infrastructure in those states’ high schools. The project will also draw upon the expertise of carefully selected curriculum development partners such as Eklavya, the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, and the National Institute of Advanced Studies, as well as implementation partners like Mizoram University, State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT) Telangana, the Centre for Education Research and Practice, and UNICEF Chhattisgarh.



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