Sunday, 14 April 2013

Google Enabling @ R.S.K

In an intense argument about, whether being born in a certain environment restricts ones growth in terms of language, skills or exposure, my friend and I had vastly varying opinions. His point was factors like home environment, mother tongue, access to facilities, peer circle play a big role in shaping our lives and makes it impossible to skip up economic stratum.

Agreed, there are 8 year old's from my colony who tell me more functions about my Ipad than even I know.  But with the present generation so technologically advanced why do certain kids deserve to be left out only because they are born into the BOP?

We take things for granted being born in a more privileged environment; the very fact that you are reading this with access to internet proves it. Who taught you how to use the internet? My response would be “I don’t know, I don’t remember, I just picked it up myself I guess.” With resources available growing up we had the privilege of doing that. I still remember the first ever site I visited was where I endlessly played a flash app called Dexter Dodge ball.

Our school R.S.K inaugurated its first fully functional computer lab enabled with the internet, with the donation of 5 computers and Android tablets by Mr. M. Ravi Kumar (whom I’m indebted to for his generous contributions) in the month of February. For maximizing the use of the lab and internet we were fortunate enough to find the Google ink curriculum.

The Google-ink Enabling curriculum is a ten hour, ten day curriculum designed to acquaint beginners with basics of using the internet. R.S.K high school started the E-nabling session with 62 students of class 6th and 7th. They were 10 to 13 year olds and we didn’t realize that one needs to be 13 and above to be eligible to have a Google account, until day 5 of the curriculum where every child had to create a personal E-mail id. On my enquiry with the Google team, it was noble of them to advocate abiding by the law and demonstrating the uses of Gmail and G+ through an existing adult’s id.

One of our biggest challenges we faced as an affordable private school, was having limited internet enabled computers and 62 kids. We managed by making groups of 5 with a trustworthy team leader (don’t you just hate it when the topper of the class is assigned the head) and after their individual performance was measured they helped mark other student’s performances in a notepad under the computer teacher’s supervision. The Google rubric is a great tool to measure the growth and performance when you actually see tangible results on the graph when you feed the data for evaluation through an excel spread sheet.

It is nice that the curriculum is flexible to the needs of your school, number of students, age and logistics as long as the sessions are conducted properly. The students learnt a lot and can now access Wikipedia, use Google search and understand the concept of Youtube videos and the number of views. Now they can Google any topic and are on the same page as us when we say “lets Google it”. 

It is over whelming to see their excitement while using Google maps satellite to view our school and the exact room that we were sitting in and then wandering off to finding their houses next to the school on it; understanding the use of Google translate and the various languages that exist; seeing their awestruck faces when they see aerial views of the pyramids or the Taj Mahal; 'Hangout' with a didi in Bangalore; laughing endlessly on a funny cats video or being inspired by a great Google ink talk.

So can one move up the economic stratum? The Enabling curriculum does just that by empowering those in need by giving them better livelihood options in today’s computer driven and tech savvy world. It was amazing being a part of this movement. 

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