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Made in S’pore, snapped up in India

ICT

Low-cost I-slate ordered for schools in southern Andhra Pradesh state.

SINGAPORE: Thousands of young schoolchildren in southern Andhra Pradesh state in India will get to use a low-cost electronic educational tablet developed in Singapore when school reopens in June.

Called the I-slate, the tablet took the Rice-NTU Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (Isaid) in Singapore about two years to develop.

The institute is jointly set up by Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and Houston’s Rice University.

Some 50,000 of these devices, each costing about US$45(RM138.50), will be used by 10- to 13-year-old pupils over the next three years in Mahabubnagar District in Andhra Pradesh, according to Indian officials in Hyderabad, the state capital, the two universities, and the non-profit Villages for Development and Learning Foundation (ViDAL).

The I-slate is a stripped-down version of a tablet and is seen as a replacement for the chalkboard, which is widely used in rural classrooms.

“It looks and has the feel of a tablet but it is highly optimised to do one thing very well: an interactive vehicle for education. There are lessons, animated exercises where a wrong answer gets a frowny face, and a right answer, a smiley. It is a tablet you can write into,” said Professor Krishna Palem, Isaid’s director who is the creator of the I-slate.

“The performance of a student is captured subject by subject, topic by topic.”

Designers took elements from video games and social networking sites to attract students and hold their interest. The next version is expected to have Wifi and a social networking site for the schoolchildren.

Prof Palem said the research team has 20 members, some of whom are based in India. At any one time, six to seven researchers are based in Singapore.

He said the work in Singapore is focused on the hardware and engineering, such as CPU efficiency and battery life while the software and user-experience aspects are handled by a voluntary Los Angeles-based creative content creation consortium working under the Isaid umbrella.

With the number of people getting Internet access expected to double in the next three years, low-cost devices like the I-slate and the US$35 (RM108) Aakash, the world’s cheapest tablet, are poised to bring about changes in college campuses and school classrooms.

They will be especially useful in rural India where infrastructure is often poor and there is one teacher for every 40 students, or more.

In the case of the Aakash tablets, some 100,000 of them will be distributed by the government to college students in the coming months.

Akhilesh Prasad, the new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, has announced that close to 2.5 million iPads and laptops will be distributed to school-leavers. This is expected to cost the state government 30 billion rupees (RM1.83bil) annually.

Those behind the I-slate said their idea is to take technology to where it is needed most.

“We are committed to (providing) learning opportunities backed by the latest in modern communication technology for the benefit of rural communities,” said Rajeswari Pingali, ViDAL’s founding chairman.

“We will continue to upgrade but this (tie-up with the government) is one of the milestones.”

A solar-powered version of the I-slate has been tested for the past 18 months by 25 pupils aged from 10 to 13 years at the Mohamed Hussainpalli Village School in Mahabubnagar District.

Designers evaluated the feedback from the children and spent thousands of hours scrutinising the placement and flow of features and the way children interacted with the I-slate both visually and by touch, according to a joint press statement yesterday.

“The 25 students were motivated and they would ask to take the I-slate home. It is a good supplement and reduces the burden on teachers,” said G. Shyamala, the school’s principal.

Mahabubnagar is primarily a rural district with a population of about four million people.

“Based on two years of lab-to-school testing rounds, today we have a fully functional I-slate which will be adapted by the district education department,” Pingali said.

This month, 30 new and updated I-slates were delivered to a class of 10- to 13-year-olds in the same school.

After India, the device is set to make an appearance in Africa, where there is strong interest in South Africa and Rwanda, according to Prof Palem.

On the India roll-out, he said: “It has been a long journey and I am very satisfied. It is a socially uplifting activity taking the right turn.”

The star, 25 March 2012

Comment

ICT revolution to solve India’s education crisis

ICT

It is only a matter of time before technologies come in to replace teachers entirely
The song Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd is perhaps best remembered for the lines that exhort the teacher to “leave us kids alone”. That captures the state of education, in terms of content and delivery, for millions of us who have been through ‘the system’.

In a country like India, which is perennially short of funds for education, often critically so, it is well nigh impossible to train teachers adequately and in numbers to service a large number of children who need to be educated. Add to that badly maintained facilities in schools, high absenteeism among teachers, and the stage is set for a new set of solutions, a revolution by some accounts, to solve this age-old problem.

Universities such as Stanford, MIT, Harvard and IITs have been quick to jump on to the bandwagon. Often criticised as elitist and facing calls to make education more inclusive, these universities have put taped lectures of some of their most popular courses online. A computer engineering student in India, for instance, can now listen to a lecture delivered by a leading computer scientist, who is also a member of the faculty at Stanford. A philosophy student or enthusiast can similarly view philosophy courses at Harvard University’s Youtube channel from the comfort of his/her home.

Competition in the smartphone and tablet industries has also benefited end consumers greatly. Decreasing prices have ensured that the cheapest Android phone is now available for about Rs 5,000 and the cheapest Android-based tablet can now be bought for about Rs 7,500. The government, eager for education to leap into the modern times, has adopted technology as a centrepiece for increasing the quality of education delivered in institutions of higher learning.

The NME-ICT (National Mission on Education through Integrated Communication Technologies), seeks to bring low-cost yet fully functional technologies to students at institutions of higher learning with a view to helping them take advantage of the material that is now increasingly available online.

Launched by Vigyan Prasar and IGNOU on the Science Day, Science@Mobile, an SMS service, will give its subscribers information on a wide variety of science topics free of cost. Subscribers can access this service depending on their level of familiarity with science. The service is now available only in English, though efforts are on to localise this service.

LHSee, an application developed by CERN, is an educational application available on Android that acts as a guide on LHC for the general public. Through videos and complex graphics, each and every part of the massive LHC complex has been laid bare for the layman, and explained in a way that makes this information accessible.

The existing model of delivering education is remarkably democratic and based on assumptions that do not hold in the real world. One such underlying assumption is that all children are equal. Children of the same age are grouped together in a class without taking into account that even at the same age, not all children are at the same level of mental development. Some children may be inherently good at some skills, be it hand-eye coordination or spatial skill, and extremely poor in others, such as reading and writing skills.

Given the rapidly evolving nature of technologies to deliver content in innovative ways and the wide dissemination of low-cost devices to deliver such content, it is perhaps only a matter of time before technologies come in to replace teachers entirely. While it does seem to make sense, this notion that teachers can somehow be replaced with content developed in a studio is false. Educational content, no matter how attractive, might never be able to replace a teacher entirely. The way a good teacher can interact, inspire and lead you to question your beliefs is not something that a computer can, at least not for the foreseeable future, do.

Though man has made a lot of progress in a number of fields, education, in terms of the content taught and in the way it is delivered, still follows models and methodologies that have seen little change from the time of the ancient gurukul.

Imbalances between the rich and poor have denied the right to good education to many students who found themselves on the wrong side of the divide. The churn brought about by the ‘democratisation’ of technology is good as it erases this divide and delivers education to a greater number of people at a time and place of their convenience. In the absence of concrete data, the effect of technology on learning outcomes remains to be seen. But the destruction of barriers to learning is a very welcome step.

Financial Chronicle, 09 March 2012

Comment

Now, get an Android-based tablet @Rs 5,000

ICT

Students in India will have more options to choose from as far as low-cost tablets go with a global education company launching an android tablet costing Rs 5,000. International education company AcrossWorld along with Delhi-based Go-Tech would launch a tablet, called ATabin, in the The seven-inch android touchscreen tablet will have a three-year free access to education technology platform ‘EducationBridge’ which allows academic institutions, teachers and students to use a variety of content and educational resources through a software called open source.

The tablet, however, is not that cheap as Aakash, which the government had launched in 2011. Aakash is the world’s lowest priced tablet at $35 (about Rs 1,700).

Announcing the launch, president and chief executive of AcrossWorld, Stephan Thieringer said the tablet will make a variety of resources available to Indian students.

“With the availability of ATab, Indian schools will be able to discover and leverage world-class educational content at their fingertips. It is very timely and appropriate that India schools and colleges alike seriously explore advanced technology solutions that provide instant access to the world’s best educational resources , especially now within an affordable budget,” said Thieringer.

According to company officials, about a dozen schools and colleges from various Indian cities such as Delhi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Rourkela and Gaujarala have indicated keen interest in the tablet.

“By bundling free access to AcrossWorld’s global premium educational content, ATab is not just a book shelf, but a whole library full of the world’s best Open Source knowledge for schools and higher educational institutes,” said Gaurav Khanna, CEO, Go Tech.

Hindustan Times, 02 March 2012

Comment

Research and Markets: Focus on Increasing Education Coverage to Augment E-Learning Market in India, Finds Netscribes

ICT, Learning Achievements

Mumbai, India – February 20, 2012 – Netscribes (India) Pvt. Ltd., a knowledge consulting solutions company, announces the launch of its report E-Learning Market in India 2012. E-learning market in India is still at a nascent stage and is expected to witness dynamic growth over the next few years. It is an emerging education segment and includes multimedia in private schools, ICT in public schools as well as online education.
The report begins with an introduction to the education market in India and its various sub-segments. Indian education system largely consists of formal and informal sectors, with the formal sector accounting for the major share. A macro overview of the Indian education system is also included, which throws light on some of the key indicators such as literacy rate in India, demographic split in education, budget allocation for education and five year plan outlay for education.

The market overview section gives an insight into the overall education market in India along with the elearning market, their market size and growth. It is followed by the segmentation in the e-learning market, comprising multimedia in private schools, ICT in public schools and online education, along with their respective shares. The value chain, primarily consisting of content suppliers, technology providers and end consumers, is also included. Additionally, an analysis of Porter’s Five Forces provides an insight into the competitive intensity and attractiveness of the market.
An analysis of the drivers and challenges explains the factors leading to the growth of the market including low education coverage, rising demand from various segments, growing pc and internet penetration, increasing government participation and convenience factors. Strong opportunity exists in the market due to low coverage of education in India. This coupled with the fact that demand from other education segments are rising, will drive the e-learning market. The key challenges identified are accreditation and recognition issues, expensive mode of education and lack of awareness and acceptance.

Sunherald.com, 22 February 2012

Comment

ICT and Education in India

ICT

No doubt the issue raised by Maria Farooq in Defending the Global Village is very pertinent to India. The chronology of events over the last fourteen years shows it clearly- ICT has been used as a tool for numerous terrorist attacks. But I couldn’t agree more that despite the fact that ICT has aided terrorism, we cannot afford to overlook the highly beneficial contribution it has made to school education.

Over the past two decades information and communication technology has transformed our lives here in India immensely. From communicating with our families and friends all over the world, networking, jobs, film making, and discussion forums to banking, shopping, medical advice and help – there’s simply no limit.The popularity and usefulness of e-learning cannot be overrated and it’s a very well known fact that ICT has been used to enhance learning and improve creativity especially in classrooms in urban areas.

There is a growing trend to apply ICT based technologies in schools and other educational institutions. Many schools have dynamic and vibrant virtual learning methods which gives students access to study materials, skills questions, sample papers and assignments. Some schools even have smart interactive white boards for teaching. Children find it more interesting and become more adept in multimedia presentations when engaging with them in their assignments. Quite a percentage (24%) of schools in India use Open Distance Learning. Teachers and students both claim that ICT-enabled learning is more interesting, interactive and keeps students hooked. Assignments are also accepted via email in many schools.

Nevertheless, the parents of a twelve year old girl complained that information based technology – especially TV, the internet and smart phones – were making kids lose their imagination as they became obsessed with these gadgets. “They have no time to read and keep demanding these expensive gifts from parents. If you don’t give it to them you feel you are letting them miss out on opportunities to learn enough as ICT is a true source of information if used prudently. But if you do, kids can go on the rampage on the net and be exposed to harmful stuff like stalking, cyber bullying, harassment, violence, porn, etc,” said Harish. His daughter, however, has a different viewpoint. She said that the internet and other ICT makes it more interesting for her and easier to find a lot of study material that helps her in her school work. “Even my school allows students to access the internet”, she said. But this of course is allowed only at particular times which are monitored by the schools.

One might point out that the vast majority of schools are government-run and only a few privileged, private, international and world schools have much more ample access to ICT. However in recent years even government schools like the Kendriya Vidyalayas have been given access to ICT for educational purposes. The importance of using ICT for improving education has been emphasized in the policy framework for over a decade now in India. Numerous initiatives have been started by both public and private entities. One notable example of a public-private partnership is the Intel Education Initiative. India is working towards the broad use of computer-aided learning in such schools through the Intel® Teach Program. The program covers schools associated with the central Government and various state Governments.

Unfortunately, despite all the progress made, access to ICT for education in rural areas – usually the less developed areas in India – is much less widespread and beneficiaries are almost always not the poorest or most disadvantaged groups. This is always the case in developing countries. Inadequate schools and teachers, expensive infrastructures, untrained human resources, non-sustainability and ineffective monitoring are some of the reasons behind this.

Since education basically is a main motor of social change and reform we need to embrace all we have and find more innovative and better ways for information and technology-enabled learning. But sadly while doing so we might have to encounter various obstacles. Technology does come with its own ‘baggage”. I guess it’s the price you pay for the life you choose. But we have to admit it- technology has undeniably made our lives more easy.

Future Challenges, 23 February 2012

Comment

Digitisation is making e-learning simple

ICT, Learning Achievements

Though the computer literacy in India is low, some companies are effectively spreading education using digital contents riding on the Internet.

The business of education is all set for a transformation in the country as the government, recently, announced that it will purchase some 100,000 low-cost Aakash tablets from Datawind, the Canadian company that has developed this equipment.

These tablets would then be distributed to schools and colleges in India, where students would get them for free. This move of going the e-way and the limitations the low cost tablet has revealed has seen a lot of criticism all over, however, the e-learning industry in India is going to be one of the biggest game changers in recent times.

E-learning service provider Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) CEO Sanjaya Sharma recalls his experiences when he began his company in 1990. “There was no e-learning then. It was computer-based training along with multimedia training that existed,” says Sharma. However, times changed slowly as TIS began getting clients. One of its first clients was the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with whom it did a project involving VGA monitors. This product was later sold to 32 other organisations.

Now, the company has many Fortune-500 customers to itself and is also conducting business with universities and publishers abroad. Sharma is very optimistic about the present Indian e-learning market, though he believes that it has just begun to take shape. “Adoption happened much earlier abroad, than in India,” Sharma added.
TIS is coming big on the e-learning in schools with their Tata ClassEdge, a solution for interactive teaching in schools.

Tata ClassEdge is an innovative and comprehensive educational solution from TIS, designed to help teachers deliver quality instruction, with an effective blend of classroom activities and interactive multimedia demonstrations.

For this purpose, the company would be providing its services to partially government-aided schools apart from private schools. Study estimates that there are around 80,000 government schools; 150,000 partially-funded schools and 105,000 government schools in the country. TIS is also going to reach out to government schools soon with a different pricing model within a couple of years.

Through ClassEdge, teachers will have access to lesson plans that they can use to make their classes engaging and memorable. The plans are customised for students and it provides tips to elicit student participation, including reinforcement activities for struggling learners and challenging assignments for high achievers.

Teachers can use animations to explain difficult topics. They can engage children through stories that teach. They could use interactive games to get students to interact with the medium and have fun while learning.

Sharma strongly believes that the education sector in India is going to take advantages of technology in the coming years and will improve in the process. “I definitely feel that technology should be available to every individual,” adds Sharma.
Meanwhile, another institute AVAGMAH (avagmah.org) is making good business with its online learning platform deemed for the higher education space. AVAGMAH offers UGC-recognised degrees for MBA (Global) in sales & marketing, HR management and banking & finance. The education platform is entirely online and the student must attend classes on the Internet.

“The faculty conducts a class and students sit at home, taking lessons. That was my aim and that’s what AVAGMAH offers,” says AVAGMAH Online School CEO Karthik K S. The platform for this online school was developed in 2007 and it had also won an award for innovation from Nasscom, the same year. However, the content generation took another two years and only in 2009, was AVAGMAH ready to deliver education online and commence its first batch. The institute now has more than 6,000 students to its name and the number keeps growing with each passing day.

The ease of access, they feel, is drawing people towards online education as they can log into their classes after their day’s work and have a quick session with the faculty. “Internet can reach places where prevalent education systems cannot. We have students logging in from places like Palanpur in Gujarat and also from places like Guwahati,” explained Karthik. He also says that the content can be delivered on low bandwidth Internet connections making it easier for narrowband users to access it. On the cost factor of such courses and how viable it would be for the not-so-rich sections of India, he pointed out that AVAGMAH offers two-year MBA courses for Rs 40,000 per year.

“Online education is going to drastically change the learning space in India as technology becomes more accessible,” added Karthik.

Karnataka, the state with the most developments happening in the IT space, is no doubt heralding the e-learning spree in India with various initiatives to bring this form of education to all. In the year 2009, NIIT had announced a partnership with the Government of Karnataka (Department of Social Welfare – DSW), the Karnataka Vocational Training & Skill Development Corporation Ltd (KVSTDC) and the Department of Employment and Training (DET) to provide e-learning to young under-graduates residing in DSW hostels.

The vision of this project is to enable the students in the government hostels to use their free time to enhance their skill sets by acquiring some of the soft skills and life skills that are required in most job areas, and in the process, providing the latest learning technologies at the student’s doorstep.

IT major Intel India and the Karnataka Government’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, last year, launched ‘Computers on Wheels’, an e-learning pilot programme, in five districts of the state.

The pilot programme includes digital instruction materials from ‘Educomp’, an education solutions provider. The programme enables teachers to utilise a variety of learning strategies and tools to cater to the diverse learning styles and abilities of students, making education more engaging and inclusive for all. Under the ‘Computers on Wheels’ approach, netbooks are housed in a cart and can be moved between classrooms as needed.

Not only has the Internet found a newer way in traditional courses, but it has also made advances in supplementary education. Atano, a Mumbai-based company, has come up with a unique idea of providing e-books for vocational courses on its website. Imagine living cities like Meerut, Shimla, Jaipur, Guwahati, Indore, Cochin or even in the metros, one can download a supplementary e-Book at a click of a button. Supplementary education books can be downloaded on the individual’s Windows PC, Android platform, or even Mac (iPads).

Cost-effective option

Industry experts are of the opinion that this sector has a huge potential and more so, in a country where education finds it tough to reach remote places.

“The country needs e-learning as it is the best way to reach out to millions and moreover this sector is very promising,” says head of IT & ITeS Practice at KPMG, Pradeep Udhas.

He adds that not only in traditional courses, but also in vocational courses, e-learning will be the trend-setter.

Another initiative by Manipal Global Education Services, EduNxt enables interactive learning environment which includes small group mentoring, virtual classrooms, simulation, self-study content, recorded presentations and shared browsing.
Launched by Sikkim Manipal University-Distance Education in 2009, it helps all the Distance Education students through their online platform.

The university believes that it develops a sense of togetherness among the members and different stakeholders of the huge community within the platform.

The platform has functionality which provides a student to interact with 65 core faculty and 6,500 supporting faculty counselors in order to utilise the varied expertise and vast experience of this community.

“We may have progressed from just computer-based learning to technology-enabled solutions in the classroom, but the objective has remained intact, improving the learning experience by making it more engaging,” said Pearson Education Services COO Srikanth B Iyer.

Iyer adds that in their current avatar, e-learning solutions are not seen as replacements for teachers, but aids which will help teachers deliver lessons better, thereby increasing the quality of the learning experience.

However, Centre for Internet & Society Executive Director Sunil Abraham feels that learning should not be restricted to the Internet and interactive classroom sessions but should be made available on mobile phones through audio files as mobile penetration is much higher compared to Internet reach.

“Audio files can also be productive and a learning experience for people who can’t afford the Internet,” explained Abraham.

Deccan Herald, 13 February 2012

Comment

India’s Aakash tablet soon to be free for students

ICT

The Aakash $60 dollar education tablet that has taken India by storm is about to get even better. The student and education-based government subsidized tablet might soon become free for students, instead of the current $35 price tag they are paying today. This would be a huge move and would see sales skyrocket — although it’s been widely popular already.

While students can currently get this $60 dollar tablets subsidized by the government for just $35 dollars a new plan is aiming much lower. If all goes as planned the slate would be covered by the government, while the educational institutions would cover the other half. Making this 7″ Android tablet free for students across India.
Kapil Sibal, India’s minister of Human Resource Development not only wants this slate free for students, but also wants to move the manufacturing process to a domestic location. Another way to save even more money and offer the device for less. I’m hoping this same concept makes its way to the US and we can get our schools to pitch in for a brand new tablet too, but that is doubtful. I’ll take that 7″ ASUS MeMO please.

Android, 08 February 2012

1 Comment

Obama Calls for E-Textbooks, Tech-Education Partnership

Global news, ICT, US

The Obama administration is urging a nationwide transition to digital textbooks, underscoring a need for partnership between tech companies, publishers, and schools to improve learning.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission chair Julius Genachowski said Wednesday schools and publishers should switch to digital textbooks within five years to foster interactive education, save money on books and ensure classrooms in the U.S. use up-to-date content.

The government released a 70-page guide for schools outlining the digital textbook transition plan, but made no mention of funding or other support for schools and publishers hoping to make the switch.

The plan recognizes the need for U.S. education to keep pace with changes in technology, but its implementation could prove difficult. In recent years, drops in tax revenues and government funding have left school systems around the nation strapped for cash, leaving few dollars available to spend on technologies such as tablet computers.

The Obama administration’s plan will face slow adoption if schools can’t find funding to give tablets for every student in every classroom, a necessary first step to making digital textbooks available to all.

Public-private partnerships such as the one created to give $35 tablets for students in India represent one possible solution. A tablet-subsidy partnership between a technology company such as Apple or an Android tablet maker and the U.S. government could speed adoption of the digital textbooks program, as well as save money in the long term, as schools could subscribe to automatic digital updates instead of paying for shipments of brand-new, paper textbooks every few years.

The government announcement is potentially good news for tablet makers, particularly iPad manufacturer Apple, which last month announced an initiative to reinvent easily worn, heavy textbooks by replacing them with digital versions that feature interactive, multi-touch capabilities. Videos, graphics, and built-in quizzes will engage students with the material, and reviews and instant feedback will help lessons come alive in a way particularly suited to a generation that grew up using digital media.

A recent pilot program by publisher Houghton Mifflin showed a 20-percent boost in standardized test scores for students who used a digital, iPad version of an Algebra 1 textbook as compared to those who learned with a traditional book.

Results like these should inspire both schools and publishers to find ways to make the switch to digital textbooks. Still, education budget shortfalls often go hand-in-hand with unwieldy approval processes for new textbook adoption and reluctance to adopt new technologies in many school districts, so barriers to digital learning are cultural as well as financial.

The government aims to change that attitude.

“Do we want kids walking around with 50-pound backpacks and every book in those backpacks costing $50, $60, $70 and many of them out of date? Or do we want students walking around with a mobile device that has much more content than was even imaginable a couple years ago and can be constantly updated?” Duncan said in his announcement.

The Department of Education and the FCC will hold a meeting next month to discuss implementing the e-textbook plan. Apple, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard are likely to attend, along with technology CEOs and representatives from wireless carriers and publishing companies, a first step toward forging the partnerships necessary to make digital education a reality.

Mobiledia, 03 February 2012

Comment

TellyQuiz Expands Global Outreach With Interactive Learning Fun

Curriculum Development, ICT, Learning Achievements

PRINCETON, N.J., Jan 29, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) — An enthusiastic reception from students of all ages, parents and educators across the globe has propelled the online educational portal, TellyQuiz.com a product of VIHO LLC (New Jersey, USA based Software Development Company), into the forefront of web-based academia. Designed to supplement student learning and foster scholastic success, TellyQuiz.com has enjoyed rapid expansion in global outreach since its 2011 debut.

When school is out, students log in to TellyQuiz.com to brush up their academic skills and expand their knowledge through self-assessment activities and interactive fun. The TellyQuiz team of qualified educators and topical experts has developed top-quality quizzes geared to grade level curricula as well as dozens of tutorials targeting a gamut of academic topics.

Since its online launch last year, TellyQuiz has received international approbation with an infusion of student participants that continues to surpass the company’s expectations. The TellyQuiz breakthrough educational technology has been the topic of discussions in online forums worldwide and the subject of ongoing interest from larger educational institutions and investors.

TellyQuiz provides interactive learning experiences that keep kids focused on improving their classroom skills and expanding their knowledge in a fun atmosphere of competitive comradery. TellyQuiz welcomes a wide range of students to a free, easy to navigate environment optimized for learning fun. Once they log on, visitors in all grade levels discover new depths of knowledge and new friends that bring them back time and again.

To date, TellyQuiz.com offers over 300 online quizzes spanning all academic subject areas that are tailored for their appropriate grade levels. With dozens of academic categories, plus special sections for students preparing for the GRE, SAT, and GMAT exams, there really is something for every visitor at TellyQuiz.com.

When students sign in to TellyQuiz.com, they can choose from Quiz Room, Play Quiz with Friends, Jokes, Quotes and Inspiration, Facts, Tutorials, Learning Center and Maths Worksheet. No matter the category they click on, they will be greeted with an impressive but easy to navigate menu of topics. They select what they would like to work on during their visit, and they are free to explore materials from other grade levels. No one is limited to working within a pre-determined curriculum.

Part of the fun of the TellyQuiz experience is that each student can select items of interest and learn about them as extensively as they choose, then test themselves on their newly gained expertise. Whether visitors’ current interests run to computer programming or creative writing, they can expand and test their knowledge on TellyQuiz.

Scholastic Skill and Character Building for Children Worldwide

Unique among online education applications, TellyQuiz is the creation of Gauthaman Thangaraju, a software developer originally from India whose recognition of gaps in the Indian private educational system inspired him to explore new avenues for bridging them. By giving kids powerful tools to supplement their school experiences, he hopes to improve the academic achievements of children everywhere.

Thangaraju’s additional recognition that schools do not always adequately address children’s ethical training is another key component of his TellyQuiz philosophy. His belief that the purpose of educating children is not only to impart knowledge but to nurture those values essential to ethical living is evident throughout the TellyQuiz site in the form of inspiration, humor, and quotations from international leaders in many disciplines.

Armed with a concept and a self-imposed mandate to bring better scholastic and character-building activities to school children across the globe, Thangaraju enlisted the services of a staff of rural educators in Dindugal, Tamil Nadu, India. They formulated a series of questions geared toward grade two through grade 12 curricula that became the original quizzes for the TellyQuiz educational website. These teachers established the groundwork for what has become a leading educational portal in India, the U.S., and internationally.

With an intuitive, artful blend of academic and character building features such as inspirational excerpts, videos, and jokes, today’s TellyQuiz.com is a kid-friendly venue where the pursuit of knowledge leads to fun interaction, friendly quiz competitions, and most importantly, academic excellence. The success of this educational web portal can be measured in terms of the rapid growth of the thriving TellyQuiz.com community.

What began as a labor of love for Gauthaman Thangaraju has gained momentum with school children, their teachers and their parents on an international scale, with more subscribers each day attesting to the popularity of TellyQuiz.com. With rapid growth come plans for continued expansion as well as opportunities for superior returns on investor capital.

Well-researched and age-appropriate TellyQuiz content provides kids with fun ways to bolster their knowledge and character while fine-tuning their test taking strategies. The welcoming, non-threatening TellyQuiz.com environment encourages students to progress at their own pace while learning what it takes to be successful in their school careers as well in as their future professional lives.

The Wall Street Journal, 29 January 2012

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Sharing a Screen, if Not a Classroom

Global news, ICT, Learning Achievements, US

In a hushed first-grade classroom at Public School 55 in the South Bronx, Edward Muñoz, a bashful 7-year-old in scuffed sneakers and a worn hoodie, was sounding out tricky words with his tutor.

Together they plowed through a book about a birthday barbecue, tackling the words “party” and “presents.” Then they played a rousing game of word-based tic-tac-toe, with Edward eventually declaring victory.

Exchanges like theirs take place every day in classrooms around the country, now that links between early literacy gains and later school success have been clearly documented.

But Edward’s tutor was not in the classroom. His school, a 20-minute walk from the nearest subway stop in a crime-plagued neighborhood, has long had trouble finding tutors willing to visit. “It is hard to get anyone to volunteer,” said the school’s principal, Luis Torres, who sometimes cancels fire drills because of the gunfire he hears outside.

Now, newly designed software for the tutoring of beginning readers has bridged the gap, allowing volunteers to meet students online from a distance. P.S. 55 is testing the program with students in its four first-grade classes.

Edward’s tutor, Jenny Chan, was an hour away in Midtown, on a bustling trading floor at JPMorgan Chase, where she provides technology support. She was talking to Edward by phone and seeing the story he was reading with screen-sharing software on her desktop computer.

JPMorgan Chase is sponsoring the remote tutoring program and encouraging its employees to get involved from their desks during the school day. This is a boon for Ms. Chan, who has participated in corporate-sponsored volunteer reading programs at other firms. But since having two children and receiving a promotion, she has been unable to make the lunchtime trek to a school, particularly one as far away as P.S. 55.

As for Edward, he was perched on a blue plastic chair, listening to Ms. Chan’s encouragements through headphones as he read haltingly into the microphone. When he mispronounced a word, Ms. Chan prompted him to try alternatives, occasionally proclaiming, “Good job!” From her desk, she followed along and turned the pages of a virtual book for her budding reader.

The program is the creation of Seth Weinberger, a 56-year-old former technology lawyer from Evanston, Ill., and the founder of Innovations for Learning, a 19-year-old nonprofit organization that has set its sights on raising persistently low reading scores among the nation’s poorest children. The tutoring software is being tried by over 550 volunteers in 60 low-performing classrooms in Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Washington, as well as at P.S. 55, where in 2010, only 15 percent of the third graders passed the state English exam.

Countless studies, many outlined in an exhaustive 1998 literacy report by the National Research Council, indicate that there is a strong connection between how fast young readers progress and how often they encounter written language. But according to the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health, less than half of the nation’s young are read to at home on a daily basis.

As a result, the literacy organization Everybody Wins! New York plants more than 1,000 volunteers in city schools. New York Cares sponsors volunteers in an early morning reading program. And in September, the national advocacy group Reading Partners began a volunteer tutoring initiative in seven of the city’s poorest-performing elementary schools.

What sets Mr. Weinberg’s program apart is that the tutors arrive via technology. “If it takes a village to raise a child,” he said, “it now takes technology to connect that village.”

His methods are not without critics.

At schools like P.S. 3, in the West Village, parents gush about the “magical” connection in-school mentors develop with the students they help. There, where 78 percent of third graders passed the statewide English exam, dozens of reading volunteers show up “live” every week.

At schools like P.S. 55, the Innovations for Learning program presents a welcome solution to a persistent problem.

To get the program started, I.F.L. trained educators at the school and installed Mr. Weinberger’s software on dedicated laptops donated by JPMorgan Chase. Volunteer tutors were required to watch a one-hour Web seminar and read a 20-page guide to basic reading skills, such as “chunking” groups of letters together to decipher a word, or using pictures to help get the gist of a story.

When a student and a tutor log on, they choose from 10 original stories, all suited to that student’s reading level, as well as games that use words from the stories. After the session, students can reread their stories on classroom iPod Touches.

Brenda Salazar, a first-grade teacher, says the greatest advantage of the program is the provision, which she can oversee, of much-needed one-on-one instruction for struggling readers. The software allows teachers to communicate with tutors about students’ problem areas via a messaging system. “When they come back to doing their reading and writing with me, they’ll often say: ‘I know that. I did that with my tutor.’ ”

Still, the program has yet to be studied, and at a time when educators are pondering the pros and cons of online learning, there are skeptics. Some question whether young learners, particularly struggling ones, have the communication skills needed to benefit from a virtual connection.

Joanne Meier, a research consultant at Reading Rockets, a literacy initiative based in Arlington, Va., wonders how effective tutors can be if they don’t have access to students’ facial expressions and body language. “Subtleties are missed with a phone call,” she said.

Ms. Chan, the P.S. 55 tutor, acknowledges this challenge. “You do lose the face-to-face,” she said. “But this is a good alternative.”

After her recent session with Edward, Ms. Chan hung up, and the 7-year-old unhooked his headphones and sauntered back to his desk, where his classmates were rifling through picture books. What was his favorite part of the new program, he was asked. He said it was when the phone rang in his classroom, a signal that a tutor was online.

“They get excited,” Mr. Torres said. “They all want to be on that call.”

The New York Times, 22 January 2012

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