Schools

From blackboards to digital boards: a transformation of government-run schools

A digital classroom at government-run KDPM High School in Visakhapatnam  

Until two years ago M Yogesh spent most of his pocket money on getting notes photocopied. Today, he and his friends share notes on Google hangouts. A student of grade 10 at the government-run KDPM High School, he was introduced to computers only in grade eight. Coming from the fishing community, Yogesh did not have access to advanced technology and relied heavily on textbooks to educate himself. But today, all the information is just one click away.

Hundreds of students are now a part of Google Future Classrooms adopted by the Greater Visakhapatnam Smart City Corporation Limited (GVSCCL). GVSCCL has collaborated with IL&FS Education and Technology Services Ltd, a partner of Google, to provide holistic education solutions including hardware, software, training and certification to schools in the city.

The project was started in 2017 with six schools. Today the project has been extended to 31 government-run schools where students are provided with Chromebooks. “Depending on the strength of the schools we have set up the digital classrooms. For instance, schools with 130 students strength have just one digital classroom but schools with strength of over 800 have 15 digital classrooms,” says Ram Keerthi, State coordinator for the project.

The GVMC Primary School Waltair II is P Yelmaji’s happy place. She can watch YouTube videos. “The rhymes and poems are recited along with the music. It feels like I am listening to movie songs,” says the grade five student. The sprawling campus with well-manicured lawns and vibrantly painted walls also houses a cricket pitch, volleyball court and a play area.

An aerial view of Waltair II Municipal School in Visakhapatnam which was modernised at the cost of Rs 1.37 crore with play grounds and digital classroom, under the Smart City Mission. Photo : K.R. Deepak

An aerial view of Waltair II Municipal School in Visakhapatnam which was modernised at the cost of Rs 1.37 crore with play grounds and digital classroom, under the Smart City Mission. Photo : K.R. Deepak   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

“The change in infrastructure and the teaching methodology has brought glory to government schools. The dropout rate that stood at 15 % until last year has decreased to less than five % in the last one year. Students are more attentive in the class and enjoy the lessons,” feels J Krishnaveni, principal of the primary school. She along with three other teachers handle over 130 students from grade one to grade five.

Thirteen-year-old R Sairshree’s parents shifted from Anakapalle to Jalaripeta because they wanted to admit their daughter at KDPM High School in East Point Colony. “It is not just the digital boards but also the overall infrastructure of the school and the teaching staff that prompted us to make this decision. Today I easily make projects on the Chromebook; earlier all I knew was to Google information and download pictures,” says Saishree.

Timeline
  • In 2017, the Smart Classroom Project was started with six schools.
  • This was later expanded to 25 schools in November 2017
  • Currently these 31 schools have 150 digital classrooms (equipped with smartboards) and 57 Google Future Classrooms (equipped with smartboards and Chromebooks)
  • The project is being expanded to 119 more schools, of which 77 are in Visakhapatnam and 42 are in Anakapalle and Bheemli

There has been an increase in enrolment by almost 25 per cent thanks to these facilities says the D A Naidu, principal of KDPM High School . “Since most of the information on the internet is in English, we have seen a massive improvement in the language skills of the students. The educational videos are helping them in improving their pronunciation,” he adds.

In a teaching career spanning over nine years, Sreevidya says that the past two years have been the most amazing ones. “No longer do I have to write worksheets on A4 size papers and get them photocopied. All I have to do is make a worksheet on Google forms and share it with the class,” she says. “Before the introduction of the digital classroom, the students knew what Red Fort is through just one picture that is included in their textbooks. But now, they have access to infinite pictures of the monument and documentaries that explain its history,” she says.

A student using Chromebook at one of the government-run schools

A student using Chromebook at one of the government-run schools   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Each student covered under this project is given a unique email id. They are encouraged to make their projects on Google Docs. “Many of the students come from the fishing community. Some of them have parents who are daily-wage labourers and there fore cannot have regular access to computers or smartphones. It took them a lot of time to get a hang of using computers and the internet,” says P Ranjitha, the programme manager at GVMC Primary School Waltair II.

For years Sreedevi Thirumala, a biology teacher at KDPM High School, spent hours preparing teaching aids. But today, the teacher has a curated collection of knowledgeable videos that explain these concepts in details. “ I encourage the students to find more facts and information . This has helped in making the classes more interactive. Students are asking more questions in order to learn ,” she says.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 1:36:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/schools/from-blackboards-to-digital-boards-a-transformation-of-government-run-schools/article28200443.ece

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