Old Mobiles – New Learning Devices for our Underserved Kids

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Those old and used Smartphones that are simply lying in the drawers of your cupboards! 

You discarded them may be just because the model or technology of the phone got outdated or simply because you got bored of your previous phone and you wanted the latest new model.

Every time you open your drawers, you look at these discarded devices and wonder what could you even do with these? 

Have you ever wondered how incredible it would be if we could refurbish these devices and give them to that poor boy in your locality or the little girl of your house-help who has a strong willingness to study and eyes full of dreams? In other words, helping out children who are in actual need of these mobiles should be our key purpose; especially during these critical times. And if your device is working alright, literally nothing is needed from your end but to pick up your device, load it with learning content and hand it over to the child you see first who you think deserves it.  

They could use these devices as full-fledged learning devices and get a justified exposure to the world of online learning in a systematic way. 

Furthermore, it has been observed that these underserved kids are pretty familiar with touch based electronic devices. They can very easily operate smart phones without being taught much about them. They are quite capable of operating social media and surfing the internet. Imagine! Such tech-smart kids but there are no means by which they can sharpen and make use of their skills! 

According to a survey done on a group of 42,831 students, it showed that 56% of students had no doors to smartphones and hence minimal access to e-learning. These students were majorly under the category of unprivileged children living in the urban and suburban areas of the country who either are deprived of education due to financial status of their parents or due to lack of infrastructure or lack of access to digital infrastructure.

The situation worsened during this lockdown when schools discontinued and all sources of learning came to a cease. It is disappointing to know that on an average there is only one smartphone per underprivileged family. And obviously that one phone is engaged with any of the adults of the family. As a result, even if children are willing to take up learning proactively, they unfortunately aren’t being able to do it.

On one hand where online learning for the private school students has started to evolve as a normal and usual mode of learning by now, on the other hand it still seems to be a big deal for our government or state board school children. 

Particularly, during these unprecedented times; when home-learning is the new norm, along with urban kids, underserved kids in these urban areas too must be empowered enough in a way that they are in a position to efficiently and reliably access education anytime, anywhere. 

Learning mobiles in this case can act as a quick and easy fix to start off with. 

Why do we need to take this step at all? 

The answer to this are the arduous challenges being faced by the children in remote parts of the country and even those around you who cannot afford to go to a private school. 

All this calls for public-private partnership to empower the government students with well-equipped digitized education services.  

Government Initiatives

Government’s upper-hand towards digitized learning of underserved sections of India has also been quite significant. Programmes like Diksha App, e-Pathshala, CBSE Saransh, Swayam, eVidyaloka and many such programmes have caught prominence in several remote sections of the country.

When talking about donating old refurbished mobile phones to the remote kids, installing these phones with appropriate learning apps is also important.

Students can easily download the iDream Learning App on their mobiles.

Doing so, children can allow themselves a holistic growth with diverse yet well-structured digital content and that too in their local languages with features like:

Extensive Access: Students are free to access content of all classes with no barriers.

Switch Classes with ease: Since the entire content from class 1st to 12th is at the tip of their fingers, children can conveniently switch classes going back and forth to clear concepts of previous years or classes and that too without paying anything extra for it.

Any language: Apart from Hindi and English, the entire content is available in all major local languages. As a result, when a child finds the content in his/her mother tongue, the degree of engagement undeniably doubles up.

Also Read: Why iDream Learning App is the best learning app in Hindi

Multimedia content: With interactive videos, STEM projects, curriculum books witness your students’ interest grow exponentially towards learning making the whole process enjoyable, fun and lively.

Holistic growth: Apart from prescribed syllabus, Digital library with motivating stories, picture books, inspirational biographies, books on personal growth make for a perfect set-up for holistic growth of your child.

Non-Judgemental Environment: Children can pave down their own learning path and can even access previous class’s content as and when they encounter doubts. There is nobody to look upon their shoulders and judge their way of learning or perceiving concepts.

Achieve mastery: Topic-wise practice tests of complete syllabus enable students to take up assessments repeatedly till the time they achieve mastery on each and every topic.

As we might agree that no learning is concrete till it has a guiding and a monitoring hand. Hence, teachers can also download the iDream Coach App to provide personalized guidance to every student. In fact if you as a volunteer wish to actively get involved in teaching kids around you, you can also use the iDream Coach App to virtually connect with them and actively guide them with digital content and monitor their progress. A bit about the app:

Create virtual class: Teachers can easily create a virtual class set-up wherein they get connected through SMS or Whatsapp with their students.

Diverse Content: You can experience the simplicity of merely touching and accessing content related to STEM projects, books and even assign relevant practice tests.

Stay Relevant: Since the entire content is well-aligned with CBSE and all major state boards, teachers, volunteers and NGO coordinators can always be sure of staying relevant with whatever they teach and not going off track whatsoever.

Centralized Reporting: Student reports are stored centrally on a dashboard and can be accessed anytime by you or their teachers

Create batches and provide specialized guidance: You can create groups and allot assignments batch-wise. Also, you can smoothly track down students who require special attention or support and then assign separate tasks to such students.

Stay in touch with Chat feature: This feature helps you to constantly be in touch with students; and facilitates activities like answering doubts, providing guidance when required and so on.

Anyone can easily download both the apps (iDream Learning App and iDream Coach App) from the Play Store. Here are the links:

iDream Learning App

iDream Coach App

Achieving Gender Equality 

It is indeed saddening to know that during this lockdown, there have been hundreds of female students who also have not been able to attend school. 

Unfortunately, compared to boys, girls are immediately sucked up into the household chores leaving them with no time to study. And with no access to digital learning, it only helps the parent’s cause. Due to inadequate mode of learning (mobiles) at home, they had to choose household chores over learning.

A learning phone which gives access to educational and skill-based content can be a great equaliser giving our female students an opportunity to learn and become competent and adept. 

What good things have already started happening towards this move?

  1. Pune

A 16 year old girl collects old mobiles for underprivileged kids. She does this in alliance with The Poona Rotary Club. This is a project where she and her team encourage people to donate their smart phones or laptop computers. They also have kept an option where the devices can be directly picked up from the respective donors’ residences. If people are not able to donate devices, they also can donate money which directly goes to the children being supported by the club.

  1. Karnataka

It has been observed that many underserved students in a village did not have smartphones in spite of a good internet connection in the area. A man named Narendra Sagar noticed this and urged people from the nearby urban areas to come forward and donate their old mobiles. The idea clicked and people started pitching within no time.

It is a matter of dismay that people in the poorer sections of our society also go to the extent where they get ready to pledge even their jewellery and property documents just to buy a smartphone. This can stop only when initiatives from our end pour in subsequently.

  1. ‘Cashify’ has also started an initiative where you may donate your old smartphones and they on their part will refurbish the mobiles and give them away to underprivileged children to enable them to attend online classes during these Corona times. 

Conclusion

As Modiji says ‘Apda se Avsar’; these unparalleled Corona times too can be transformed into value-adding opportunities. Perhaps, this is the best time to get our undersourced India digitally powered; an activity that has been long-drawn and delayed. A time when schools are indefinitely shut and there is an immediate need for a supplement to classroom teachings, Edtech companies now must strive hard to introduce quality digital content and apps that are aptly interfaced for mobiles and are also user-friendly. NGOs on the other side can propose smart and swift initiatives for accumulating old and used mobile phones to quicken the process.

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