Building peace in the minds of men and women

2017 UNESCO laureate CLIx shows how educational technology benefits underserved communities in India

02 July 2019

Two years after receiving the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize, the Connected Learning Initiative (CLIx) from India is expanding to new schools with the prestige of the Prize opening new doors.

Developed by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), CLIx is a technology-enabled initiative at scale for high school students. It aims to bring quality education to students in underserved communities by providing high quality platform-based, blended learning programmes in three languages: Hindi, Telugu and English.

Padma Sarangapani, Project Director of CLIx and Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, tells us about recent developments of the programme since receiving the Prize and her view on the future of education.

Could you tell us about the CLIx recent activities?

In 2018-2019, a full academic cycle of offerings was implemented in four States, reaching 478 schools. Teacher educators in the states are now taking the lead in supporting professional development activities, and CLIx will be expanding to the schools equipped with the new systems and infrastructure.

In addition, a detailed study of learning outcomes using CLIx modules showed significant conceptual gains: students gained in motivation and attitudes towards learning and the ability to collaborate. At the same time, we are delighted that our platform is now able to sync up whenever internet is available, giving us a real time picture of CLIx usage in schools.

Did winning the Prize had an impact on your work or the lives of your beneficiaries?

The award has given us the opportunity and recognition to talk about our work at various fora. Moreover, our implementation partners, the state governments, were delighted to be a part of the team winning this prestigious prize, and teachers and state officials have been very motivated by this award. 

Today, we are talking a lot about the rise of emerging technologies, specifically Artificial Intelligence, and their impact on education and learning. How do you think these recent technological developments can improve or not the way we teach and learn?

Through CLIx, we have been able to demonstrate that interactive use of ICT for student and teacher learning is not only desirable, but also possible in developing world contexts, at scale. Teachers soon learn to enjoy the opportunities that ICT use opens up such as the development of students’ autonomy, problem solving and critical thinking. This is so much more important, educationally, than mere delivery of and access to content.

The use of AI will also have educational relevance if it promotes deep and interactive learning experiences for students and teachers’ professional development. Adaptive learning is, of course, useful in some areas of learning, but can also get reductive, content oriented and oversimplify the learning process. However, I see the most important contribution of AI is coming from designing AI-based solutions that can empower and support teachers as a professional group.