READ Alliance, a project that aims at nurturing and promoting early grade reading in India by supporting promising innovations hosted its first ever READtalks, a discussion platform to share thoughts, solutions and spark conversations around early grade reading.
The landscape of education in India is changing very dramatically. If only a decade ago we were struggling to get all of our children into schools, the challenge of primary education today is to understand what reading will mean to people over the course of this century, as we completely abandon hardcopy print in favor of electronic print.
To truly transform education through technology, we need to learn from experts, solution providers and each other. READtalks, a unique experience with engaging sessions, exhibitions, and an evening networking session, is where this discovery took place.
The first READtalks on 14th July began with a simple question: “How can technology be leveraged to transform early reading?”
USAID Mission Director for India, Ambassador Jonathan Addleton launched the READtalks series.The following are a few key takeaways from the event:
- To kick off the event, Aditya Dev Sood, Founder and CEO, CKS asked the audience some very pertinent questions; “how will our higher order cognitive abilities shift as we use text more swiftly, interactively, dynamically? How will regional language publication and distribution impact the quality of literary thought for young people in our society?”
- Bhanu Potta, Board member to Worldreader India, presented ideas on how technology can be used to foster a culture of reading in schools and libraries. Culturally relevant local language books, transmitted via lowest available connectivity can be delivered to any connected mobile device
- According to a UNESCO 2014 report, 90% of the world’s population aged over 6 will have a mobile phone by 2020, we need to shift gears and ensure that technology is easy to use, invisible, manageable and scalable
- Bhanu Potta also highlighted some key trends related to mobile reading;
- “Get caregivers to Read to kids”, said Annya Crane Program manager Read to Kids Worldreader. Children who have experienced an abundance of language in the form of talk and read-alouds will have heard 32 million more words by the time they are four than children who haven’t had a language-rich environment
- During the one-minute pitch sessions, educators and technology providers presented the audience with their up and coming Ed-Tech solutions. Given below are snapshots of their pitch:mGuru English, a mobile learning app for K-5 students, aimed at accelerating the acquisition of English literacy for the average Indian student. The app works without the Internet and is available in Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati Read to Kids by Worldreader is a free and vast online library housing thousands of English and Hindi books. The goal of the pilot project is to educate caregivers on their role in developing children’s literacy skillsZaya’s “English Duniya”, a mobile Android app aims to teach children aged 8-12 basic vocabulary, grammar, listening and reading comprehension through a personalized learning journey. The app uses the child’s mother tongue to teach English The Karadi Path Magic English-SLL uses audio visual to help children progress from a phonic-reading approach to a sight-reading approachEI’s adaptive e- learning program for languages called Mindspark allows students to learn languages by employing a constructivist theory of learning by answering questions that are appropriate to their current understandingWith close to 200 million smartphone users, can “books” or the “reading experience” be disseminated on media that are already in people’s lives? PlanetRead uses the idea of Same Language Subtitles (SLS) on Television for mass literacy
The experience for delegates was wide and far ranging with latest thinking from Ed-Tech players, insightful Ed-Tech session by Worldreader, and an opportunity to meet up with key technology suppliers and developers, and to see their up–and-coming products face to face.
Not only did delegates leave the conference with new ideas and concepts to implement in the classroom, but they also gained a real insight into how education relates to real-world issues and how we can inspire learners to become fully engaged with the latest technology.