In the last five years a revolution in the way Computer science is taught in schools has slowly but surely making its presence felt throughout the country.
Learning about computers at the school level was often looked upon as insignificant or drab, the perception having been drawn from the use of dull learning materials that do nothing to discourage rote learning. The top professors and educationists at IIT Bombay’s Computer Science and Engineering Department took note of this fact and resolved to address this issue. After extensive research that looked at current models across the globe, a curriculum was created that presented a unique approach in the way learning occurs.
It was found that a student with a strong command of underlying concepts was more likely to demonstrate an ability to apply his or her skills to a given prompt, even if the nature of the prompt required them to alter how the skill was applied. Recognizing this to be of crucial significance, the research team developed a new curriculum that focused on building concepts before skills.
The culmination of this effort is the Computer Masti Curriculum (CMC).
InOpen Technologies, an educational startup incubated at IIT Bombay took up the challenge of taking CMC to the market, making way for changes in the way Computer Science is taught in K-12 schools.
Computer Masti (masti is the Hindi word for fun) is the flagship program implemented by InOpen Technologies. It has made learning Computer Science a truly fun experience. Real-life scenarios, interesting characters and an inquiry-based learning model make for an interactive and engaging learning experience.
A unique aspect about the books has been imparting life skills while learning computer science.
Today, a student needs to master various life skills along with basic education. Computer Masti enables children to learn Computer Science by applying 21st century skills such as logical thinking, step wise thinking and problem solving.
Currently available in 10 languages Computer Masti has empowered over 6, 00,000 students and 4000 teachers from over 300 schools in India.
Schools in the urban India – Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Bangalore and Hyderabad- have implemented full scale Computer Masti solutions. What is equally, if not more, heartening is the enthusiasm shown by school from rural and remote areas of the country in implementing Computer Masti for their students. The curriculum being extremely flexible, with its emphasis on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), has made Computer Masti a viable option for schools with limited infrastructure. A student irrespective of where he or she hails from, or which school he or she attends can easily comprehend the concepts being taught while making one’s own discovery which ultimately is what learning is all about.
And the journey continues! As the program expands on its outreach efforts, Computer Masti can now be seen arriving at the shores of Japan, the Middle East and the US. Schools in the heart of Silicon Valley in California, in the technology hubs of Japan and Kuwait have appreciated the value that Computer Masti brings to its students. With Computer Masti going digital, the eBook version is now available in a downloadable format to students from all parts of the world.
InOpen Technologies in collaboration with IIT Bombay is well on its way to changing how Computer science is taught in K12 schools worldwide.
Imagine being a young professional in the 80s and 90s. Think about what it was like to be one of the first people to ever learn about computer usage. Also, think about the speed of the Internet…The academic team was joined by a rather special visitor for an informal chat session about those days and more!
The fun and effervescent Ms. Nafisa Bhinderwala (NB) visited our colourful Academic office to share anecdotes from the early days, words of inspiration, and advice for education services. She is distinguished with the title of being Intel Teach India’s first ever teacher to become active after the renowned Master Trainers Program. At the time, the eligibility criteria for those invited to the program ranged from simply knowing how to switch a computer on/off, to having undergone a basic computer course on the fundamentals. NB fell in the former, but resolved to head to class hours ahead of everyone else in order to play catch up. It took her a mere four days to be at par with her batch. In fact, of all the 23 attendees, she emerged the most proactive teacher after the program. Ever since, she has been accorded special honors by the Intel team for the role she played as a leader and early adopter of using technology in teaching. NB was also announced to be a National Award Winner; the prize was a most coveted desktop computer that then cost about Rs. 50,000!
In order to become a Master Trainer, an initiate trainer was required to have conducted a basic course for ten new teachers. NB was very keen on taking the program further to a wider audience. Once the stipulations were relaxed, she was thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute further as a Master Trainer. To date, she has trained more than 500 teachers across Mumbai, and over 1000 across India.
NB has since worked with the Children’s Academy group of schools for an impressive 30 years. She held the position of founding-principal at the second campus that was opened by the school Trust in Kandivali (Mumbai) following massive popularity and success of the first one in Malad (Mumbai)! NB recently retired from her long tenure, and now eagerly looks forward to participating in the education space in other ways.
Notable Quotables from the Session!
On the new paradigm: There is a definite shift in the way the role of the teacher is perceived today. We are moving away from “sage on the stage” and towards “guide by the side.”
On change: Any and all instances of alteration to the status quo will be met with Resistance. Resistance against the idea. Resistance against the work involved. However, we must Persist! Over time, resistance dissolves into Acceptance. And from acceptance evolves Appreciation.
On teacher motivation: Whereas most individuals in the formal education sector find themselves there by default, there are ways to motivate teachers by providing the right guidance and support. The “Shower Effect” relates to the way attitude and energy is exemplified by the top management, and this kind of positivity always trickles down. Leadership matters a great deal! (Note: NB herself was renowned for leading by example, as a school leader, trainer and teacher. For instance, during discipline-specific events such as Science Fairs, she mandated that all teachers play some role, in the spirit of collaboration and thematic integration!)
On non-conformism: If you are able, follow your instincts. Pursue what interests you, and defy societal expectations if need be. At the end of the day, comparisons with fellow graduates will fade away in the satisfaction of knowing that you take pleasure in how you contribute to our society.
In turn, Academic team members took turns to share their own stories and reflections on their journey to InOpen. NB ended the session with an inspired take home message, a nod to the notion of responsibility [as InOpeners]:
“You. Are. Building. Human. Capital. Always remember that!”
[Note: The Intel Teach Program has trained 10 million teachers worldwide to date.]
Look around you. You are surrounded by the lot happily labeled the “digital natives.” They are the inhabitants of a world filled with the baubles and treats rendered to reality by the information and communication technology revolution. They are at once exposed to devices and deeds that take place in a realm that would have been considered science fiction but less than a century ago. Either they were born with access to the information expressway, or live knowing enough so as to aspire. The life and times of the digital native is indeed fast and fickle. In the scramble for a stamp in the digital passport, a need to show one’s involvement and command of an area, many have lost sight of the true spectrum of the discipline that is computer science.
The study of any computer-related knowledge was at first a rarefied space, a phenomenon not unique to any one part of the world. In India, as the market opened up, so did people come to increasingly realize the myriad possibilities of being an actual participant, of becoming a “user.” Whether it was a case of an expansion in one’s honest recognition of personal interests, strengths and practical needs, or that of keeping-up-with-the-Patels, the general outcome was a spike in the chase for formal certifications in computer and computer-adjacent knowledge and skills. Today, one hears the call to action in nearly every nation, the call to invest in computer literacy. The branding of access to computer education as ‘computer literacy’ creates a rhetoric that everyone would cheerfully applaud. Matters of literacy carry the implication that the basic knowledge in question is of such great unequivocal utility and implications for development, thus rendering it indispensable to laying a foundation for holistic (national) growth. The inevitable exposure to the capillaries of a digital world necessitates that the native be able to recognize, respond and engage with it. To that end, computer literacy is indeed a worthy goal. And yet, there is a need to push the boundaries of this goal, or what we collectively see as “minimum knowledge required.”
At InOpen, we always pose this question to a listening audience: Does knowing how to manipulate the very basic functions of an office application tool, necessarily translate to being an effective communicator? Or a creative communicator? Or a meaningful creator? Happily enough, the chorus answer is always no! There seems to be an intuitive recognition that the devices of the digital world are just that: devices, tools. The ability to make effective and artistic creations, presentation, and solutions can only emanate from a grasp of the underlying, interconnected concepts at work. In order to create a truly effective presentation or computer program, one would need to know more than how to insert new slides or even fancy animation tricks, or programming language vocabulary and syntax, respectively. The creative process would be significantly enhanced by a native’s ability to apply thinking-process skills such as stepwise thinking and planning, algorithmic thinking, logical reasoning, analyzing needs and visualizing outcomes in one’s mind’s eye. These skills are crucial to problem-solving in any field, across any discipline, and form the foundation of computational thinking.
This exploration of the How-Why-What Else of the applications and a healthy development of basic computational skills leads us closer to the true scope of “computer science.” In her recent blog post at Google for Education, Chris Stephenson echoed this idea, “Many people confuse computer science with education technology (the use of computing to support learning in other disciplines) and computer literacy (a very basic understanding of a limited number of computer applications). This confusion leads to the assumption that computer science education is taking place, when in fact in many schools it is not.”
Through the Computer Masti Program, InOpen has seized this opportunity to work towards closing this gap in access to computer science learning in the primary and secondary education space. To close, note of course that the implication here is not that every individual need become a computer scientist! Rather, our goals for literacy should expand enough to sow the seeds for the development of cross- computational thinking skills. If it is to be a digital native nation, let it be a creative, thinking one.
Here is a quick Video of what we do and why are we do it:
– Team InOpen
Write to us at email@example.com
Computer Masti (CM) camp is organized this summer in the month of May 2014 between 8th May to 15th May. It is an objective-oriented camp featuring learning experiences that are tailored around a gamut of computer applications. With every single day, campers are incrementally equipped with tools that will ultimately contribute towards a final personal project. The CM camp journey necessarily involves a focus on placing learning within a context and real needs. As a result, our campers have more fun when they are able to appreciate the relevance of applications in their daily lives! In addition to engaging in an integrated learning format, campers also benefit from a unique experience of simultaneously developing cognitive, behavioral and social faculties. The CM camp places equal importance in introducing campers to safe, healthy and ethical practices when engaging with the digital world!
Key Highlights :
- Pedagogy based based Technical Curriculum which is being used by 5 lakh students all over India
- Learning computers through ‘hands on’ technique with lots of activities and illustrations
- Critical thinking skills are nurtured through hands-on activities
- Educational games to reinforce computer skills as well as Math, science, social science and English language skills
- Collaborative learning environment to facilitate team work
- Individual attention given to each child
- Integration of educational games and visual animation program by MIT USA for Kids
- Conducted by experienced and Certified Computer instructors from IIT Bombay and InOpen
- Certificates given to each child
CM Camp Skills :
- Typing (basics)
- Word processing
- Image editing
- Programming and Animation using Scratch
- Research and Data collecting
- e-Research and the Internet
- Brainstorming and Mind-mapping
- Project building
CM Camp Booster Skills :
- Logical Thinking
- Step-wise Thinking
- Analysis and synthesis of information
- Effective Communication
- Creativity and Problem-solving
Kids enrolling at CM Camp Mumbai will be allocated to one of two groups: Junior Masti Makers (ages 8 – 10 yrs) and Senior Masti Makers(ages 11 – 13 yrs). Exciting themes have been selected as an inspiration for each group’s CM journey: “Young Explorers” for the Juniors, and “Green Tech Fest” for the Seniors.
Fees : 3000 INR per child
Junior Masti Makers: 10 am to 1 pm
Senior Masti Makers: 2 pm to 5 pm
Venue: Seminar Hall, 2nd floor, Jal Vihar Guest House, IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400076
For further details, please get in touch with:
Ms. Anushree @ 961-9903-712
Ms. Roshni @ 981-9528-023
You can also visit us at our IIT Bombay Office: CM 02/03, 4th Floor, KRESIT, IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumbai- 76.
InOpen is changing the way Computer Science has been taught in the world and Japan for us has a significant importance. Japan has got a huge market for Computer Science education as currently they do not have computers as a subject in schools.
An education giant Benesse headquartered in Japan will now be providing Computer Education to Japanese kids in collaboration with InOpen Technologies.
For the same, Team InOpen is now visiting Tokyo’s most advanced schools and we are happy to announce that the schools have agreed to do a pilot with Computer Masti.
InOpen also got featured in Japan’s biggest Super Prime Business Show ( WBS- Tokyo TV). They spoke about how Indians can change the world. http://goo.gl/RMdM69