Digital StudyHall (DSH) seeks to improve education for the poor children in slum and rural schools in India. In a nutshell, think of its technical approach as the educational equivalent of Netflix + YouTube.
We digitally record live classes by the best grassroots teachers, transmit them on the "Postmanet" (effected by DVDs sent in the postal system), collect them in a large distributed database, and distribute them on DVDs to poor rural and slum schools. Education experts and teachers use the system to explore pedagogical approaches involving local teachers actively "mediating" the video lessons. By harvesting a "viral phenomenon" of community participation, DSH aims to help train teachers and deliver quality instruction to underprivileged children. The project is a collaboration between computer scientists and education experts. The main aspects of DSH are:
- A "people's database of everything"
- A network of hubs and spokes
- Mediation-based pedagogy
- Technology for sharing community-generated video
A live deployment of DSH has been operating in India since the summer of 2005. As of spring of 2011, we run pilot "hubs" in cities in India, Pakistan, and Nepal. In the "founding hub" in Lucknow, we cover approximately 30 schools. And during this time, we have accumulated more than 2500 recordings of lessons in English, math, and science, in Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Marathi, Nepali, Tamil, Urdu, and English, and 1500 additional videos of other materials such as stories, special science and history topics, and training sessions. We have also started applying the same approach to agriculture extension work (Digital Green) and awareness campaign for rural healthcare (Digital Polyclinic and Lokarpit Voice).
In a recent evaluation published in the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, we see dramatic rise of student test scores in participating schools, significant improvement of subject matter knowledge and pedagogical skills of local teachers, and increased student participation. DSH won the 2007 ACM Eugene Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics, and the top prize in the education category of the 2008 Tech Awards by the Tech Museum of Innovation. We hope to eventually scale up the system to cover a far greater number of children, contributing toward the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.