IIT Bombay wins UNESCO Innovation Award

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Mumbai, Jul 16 (UNI) United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has awarded IIT Bombay (IITB) with the coveted Asia Pacific's ICT in Education Innovation Award 2007-08 in the Non-formal Educator Category.

The Award was for 'Adapting the Anchored Instruction' approach.

The Award has been conferred for the project: 'Innovative use of ICT for Educating Children of Nomadic Tribes in Maharashtra', according to a release from IIT here.

IIT-B worked together with two NGO's, Vigyan Ashram in Pabal and the Bhatke Vimukt Vikas Pratishthan in Pune, for the project.

Together they hosted four experimental school camps in the nomadic regions of Maharashtra namely, Ambernath, Magar Sanghvi, Umerga and Ansarwada, to teach the children the three R's- reading, writing and 'rithmetic through discovery, interactions and participation. The project, funded by Media Lab Asia, was carried out by researchers at the Developmental Informatics Laboratory (DIL) of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of IITB.

According to Dr M V Ananthakrishnan of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at IIT Bombay, 'The Anchored Instruction approach was adapted to develop the ICT-based methodology'. In principle, the original Anchored Instruction approach involved using video-tapes as anchors to teach students in a regular university curriculum in the USA. However, Dr Ananthakrishnan adapted it by using the immediate environment of the nomad camps ('pals' as referred to in the local language) as the anchor. All the instructions were centred on the immediate environment, which included animals, plants, trees and relationships. The learning included colours, numbers, shapes, relationships, pets to name a few.

Children of migrant workers, between the age of five and seventeen, were given laptops and audio-visual software to learn, to count and associate numbers, colours and names with pictures and charts of items commonly found in their environment.

Educating nomadic children is challenging. For example, there's the need to cater to their mobility. This calls for portable strategies andflexible courses that that will retain their interest and attention.

''This project demonstrates that a creative application of available tools and practices from Information and Communication Technologies can go a long way in solving even seemingly difficult problems faced by people in the developing world'', states Prof Krithi Ramamritham, Head of DIL.

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