Education technology in India: designing ed-tech for affordable private schools

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This report seeks to understand how education technology solutions can be better designed to serve the needs of stakeholders in Affordable Private Schools (APS) in India. APS provide a low-cost private education to communities in India and throughout the developing world. The report’s research explores the trends and opportunities of education technology (ed-tech) in APS, with a special focus on technology users and educational tablets. Insights were garnered from surveys, interviews, and various human-centered design research methods conducted in 2012 and 2013 in Hyderabad, India.

Four major reasons why technology initiatives often fail in APS are described:

Knowledge Gaps: A limited knowledge of technology’s potential and specific capacities in schools leads to an underutilization of the technology that is present in schools. Clear learning goals for technology in the classroom are not established, and rather than focusing on highly marketable computer literacy skills, students use technology in less impactful ways.

Resource Limitations: APS that rely on inconsistent cash flow from low-income parents face cost constraints that make it difficult to acquire all the resources necessary to maintain and maximize the use of ed-tech tools.

Cultural Barriers: Some implementations are halted because some school leaders view the technology as a marketing tool to be preserved rather than an educational tool to be used. There is also a reluctance to try new devices in front of students when the teacher-centered pedagogy places her as the expert in the room.

Logistics Challenges: Some schools have limited infrastructure and place many academic demands on students. They may have trouble finding a physical room, or adequate time to dedicate solely to the use and adoption of new technology. Research also revealed a number of opportunities to improve ed-tech for all users in low-income schools in India. These opportunities call for innovations in content development, hardware development, service elements of ed-tech providers, and sociocultural integration in individuals’ lives.

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