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Bristol promotes interactive learning in India

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20 May 2010



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Dr Sri Subramanian from the Department of Computer Science has been leading a project examining the use of interactive technology in school classrooms in India. 

The investigation, ‘Expressive Interactions for Empowerment’ was carried out in collaboration with the NIIT University (a not-for-profit institution sponsored by NIIT Limited) and Hole-in-the-Wall Education of India. It was conducted through the UK-India network on interactive technologies, with funding from EPSRC and the UK Science and Innovation Network in India.

‘We installed a multi-touch table in two schools in Delhi to explore how the interactive table helps widen student participation and improves outreach,’ said Dr Subramanian. ‘The students were assigned the task of working together to create a spider diagram from a set of given elements – 22 images and keywords – on the topic of plants and photosynthesis.’

Spider diagrams are a common classroom method of creating a graphical network of elements. In this case, an image of a plant was placed in the middle of each table as the focal point of discussion. The touch-screen tables enable students to move the elements around without the need for a mouse. The project’s initial findings show that the tables encourage greater co-operation and communication between students, and provide evidence to show that activity-based learning can raise attainment.

The project, which took place between April and May, was documented – from the building of the interactive tables to their operation in two Delhi schools – by a film crew. The project attracted a lot of media attention (including an article in the Business Standard) and concluded with a visit to the British High commissioner in Delhi, Sir Richard Stagg.

The two tables continue to be used in the schools, and developments are posted regularly on a blog.

‘We hope to expand the scope of this initial investigation by seeking additional resources from various international funding bodies,’ said Dr Subramanian. ‘Our plans include replacing existing tables in classrooms with these tables in schools in India and the UK. Most of all, we hope to make a real and meaningful difference in educational empowerment across the globe.’

(Article reproduced from the University Research News section