Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Smart Partnership: Integrating Educational Technology for Underserved Children in India

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Smart Partnership: Integrating Educational Technology for Underserved Children in India

Article excerpt

Introduction

Today, education-industry partnerships can assist schools to expedite the integration of digital technologies in their pedagogy and administration (Eickelmann, 2011). Multi-stakeholder partnerships known as smart partnerships (SPs) may be particularly valuable in terms of supporting the development of more equitable educational infrastructure and reducing the digital divide, which is the gulf between those who can readily and effectively access information and communication technologies (ICT) and those who, for various reasons, cannot.

According to Snow (2011), "Smart partnerships are collaborations linking the assets and initiatives of institutions with community assets and interests for powerful long-term impact." UNESCO is just one large-scale educational stakeholder that promotes the multi-stakeholder partnerships as a means to "create equitable, dynamic, accountable and sustainable learner-centered digital learning ecosystems" (UNESCO, 2015, point 19). However, as Leahy et al. (2016) point out, scholarly literature contains little information on the development, utility and effectiveness of education-related multi-stakeholder partnerships that have "smart" learning environments (in relation to smart learning environments see Kinshuk et al., 2016).

At the EDUsummIT 2015, a discussion of multi-stakeholder educational partnerships recognized that some may be characterized as smart partnerships (SP) when they meet the following seven criteria (Davis et al., 2015; Leahy et al., 2016):

* draw partners from within and across a wide range of educational enterprises and stakeholders

* have a shared purpose (values, concept, vision) that evolves synergistically

* have a strategic and holistic approach

* enhance the quality of education via digital technologies (ICT)

* harness ICT smartly in order to monitor educational outcomes and provide feedback aimed at improving performance

* recognize their role in the emergent process(es)

* facilitate change within their own organizations.

In this paper, we explore the growth of one partnership that is developing large-scale integration of technology in teaching and learning through the initiative called Integrating Technology in Education (ITE) for school age children in India, which began its work in a remote area of the Eastern part of the country. The central stakeholder in this initiative from the start is the Tata Trusts, a philanthropic organization committed to the betterment of India and its people, and the purpose of the ITE initiative is to enhance deep learning experiences using technology of the upperprimary and secondary school aged children and adolescents which would also bridge the digital divide. In many parts of India, the digital divide is all too apparent and is mediated by the variables of gender, age and socioeconomic status (see, e.g., Eamon, 2004). Socioeconomic status is particularly important with respect to the initiative discussed in this paper because it is a primary reason for the high dropout rate from school in many parts of India (see, e.g., Pankaj & Poornima, 2008). ITE objectives focus on ameliorating the effects of this type of inequality.

We begin our account with a brief explanation of how we conducted the study. We then trace the growth and development of the Tata Trust's ITE-focused partnership, after which we illustrate and discuss how and to what extent the partnership exhibits the seven SP characteristics listed above.

Method

We used case study methodology to generate our data, which came from more than 20 documentary sources associated with the SP and its ITE initiative and from interviews, conducted by the second author of this paper, of the first author (an initiating stakeholder in the development and implementation of the initiative). Both of us reflected on and analyzed the data. The seven characteristic of a SP were applied deductively to seek out, identify and then describe each aspect. …

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