Amit Gupta of S.Chand is into building digital aids for school and college students so that they get an original feel when they actually confront the real thing. His first day at work was a nightmare. And Amit Gupta tries hard to forget it. A mechanical engineer with specialisation in operations management from Yamaha Motor Company, Japan, he realised that all that he had read and learnt from the books, the diagrams of the machine he had perused so many times, was of no use when it came to handling the machine that now stared challengingly at him.
This personal experience is what prompted Amit Gupta, CEO of S. Chand, to look at building holistic solutions of print, digital aids and solutions for schools. He was instrumental in forging a joint venture with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, USA, to propagate vigorously the need for developing interactive content in this field. The role of information and communication technologies in today's education is extremely significant.
The interactive whiteboards are becoming more common in school classrooms and latest use of technology for enhancing the teaching and learning process is being implemented.Today there is an urgent need to accelerate the strategic use of technology in order to enhance achievement, to keep the present generation of students effectively engaged, to enable them to be on a par with students globally.
“When the CBSE urged schools to follow the guidelines as stated in the national policy of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in school education, we decided to throw in our lot. The CBSE schools were asked to set up at least one classroom for each class in the schools equipped with technology that would enable usage of digital instruction materials. That was when we decided to branch out into this emerging sector,” informs Amit Gupta,
Director-Secretary, Global Knowledge Network Society, a non-profit organisation engaged in setting up educational institutions in partnership with world renowned organisations.The partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) a leading global K-12 educational publisher, one that is at the forefront in deployment and integration of learning technology and content across the world, gave S. Chand a definitive edge.
“We have our own standing in the field of academic textbooks. HMH brings with them the complete understanding of emerging needs; they bring its experience, content, products and investments. This is complemented by us to help meet local needs and carry out joint development. We launched a programme called Destination Success. In fact, even before this partnership we were in the field of developing content especially for State governments and HMH was using content developed in India globally. So, we had the expertise and the experience and it was only that we had to expand it to other subjects and to suit the needs of our students.”
This programme is a technology enabled education solution using world-leading K-12 content. It is an interactive learning proposition that meets all the elements of CBSE's directives. “It is designed to meet the needs of the teachers and students, uses the latest, easy-to-use technological framework to create enriched teaching and learning experiences. It is a holistic programme with digital and print materials.”This programme looks at developing digital content for all subjects to be used by schools. The best part is that it does not focus on only private schools. And the other important aspect is that it understands the practical needs of the teacher in the classroom.
“Currently we have implemented this programme quite successfully in huge private schools in India and abroad and it has benefitted around 70,000 students and 2,000 teachers. Numerous public schools in the country, Kendriya Vidyalayas and even schools in some remote villages in states like Uttarakhand are using this interactive learning platform. We are working very closely with teachers who have sizeable experience in teaching; we get continuous feedback from them and build our content accordingly.”
Some of the key components of the programme are software designed in conjunction with teachers' textbooks or curriculum; training to ensure that teachers are ICT proficient, simple technology-enabled learning programs with engaging content and a flexible, varied activity like interactive whiteboards, computer labs, individual laptops etc.
Amit Gupta understands that a huge majority of schools in the country are still hesitant to make this shift. And there are reasons too. “Schools have still not reached that level. The ICT literacy is often of poor quality. Kerala is perhaps an exception with its IT@ School project well in place. But there are so many CBSE schools in Kerala that have not yet understood the significance of this learning approach. My experience is that schools in the villages, like in Chhattisgarh or Uttarakhand are much more responsive to these projects than those in the cities and towns.”
In August this year S. Chand Harcourt are planning to conduct two workshops in the city. “One will be on the Role of Technology in 21st Century Education and the other on the role of simulation in professional education. It will have teachers and principals of schools and colleges as participants,” says Gupta.