How Dell has been empowering teachers to make learning more effective for students

Quality education is the foundation of sustainable development and is a force multiplier that enables self-reliance and boosts economic growth by enhancing skills and creating better livelihoods. In India, Dell is addressing the challenge of quality education and digital literacy through Dell Aarambh – a program instituted to help schools, teachers, and parents understand PC technology and its use in education. Dell Aarambh commenced back in 2016. As a grass roots program designed to help teachers learn how to use PC tech in their teaching formats, Aarambh today is spread to all corners of the country.

To assess the engagement of technology in the classroom and impact of the program in the last 2 years, Dell initiated a research study. The sample size for this which included 435 teachers and principals – a mix of those who had attended Dell Aarambh training and some untrained – shared their views on PCs, displaying a change in attitude towards technology and a significant difference in the perception and application of computers in education. The research also highlights how Aarambh training sessions have motivated teachers to utilise technology and other interactive resources such as smartboards, effectively.

In an exclusive interview with Adgully, Ritu Gupta, Director – Marketing, Dell Technologies, shared some of the highlights from the research and also spoke about how Dell as a company is strongly focusing on computer literacy across India and trying to bridge the gap in digital literacy across teachers, students and parents. 

The Dell Aarambh PC education initiative looks like a very interesting proposition. What was the objective in conducting this research and how do you plan to leverage the findings and insights going forward?

Dell Aarambh commenced back in 2016. As a grass roots program designed to help teachers learn how to use PC tech in their teaching formats, Aarambh has gone to all corners of the country. We conducted this assessment study to gauge the engagement of technology in classrooms and the impact of the program in the last 2 years. Through Aarambh, Dell has been engaging with three key audiences – students, teachers and parents – in a series of training activities meant to familiarize them with PC usage and technology. The research highlighted how Aarambh training sessions motivated teachers to utilize technology and other interactive resources such as smartboards, effectively. Academic institutions are central to developing an aptitude for digital learning and literacy and for supporting an integrated development of students. And teachers still remain the core influencers of learning and implementation. Overall, this exercise indicated that Dell Aarambh trainings have helped teachers and principals open up and embrace PC technology, thus influencing educational institutions to invest in PCs. Under the moon shot goals set by Dell Technologies, Aarambh sits at the core of transforming a billion lives with technology. With many use cases of technology in education, Dell will continue to take Aarambh across India to bridge the gap of digital literacy as seen prevalent among teachers, students and parents. 

PC penetration is still very low. Through your digital initiative by training teachers, students and parents, how do you plan to increase the digital map and make deeper penetration at pan India level?

At Dell, our mission is to create technology that drives human progress and as a leading innovator in personal computing, we have been keen to address the challenges that inhibit PC adoption through Aarambh.

A strong foundation in the use of technology can aid a holistic learning process, ensuring that each student is able to use it to adapt to their individual learning capability. In India, over 90,000 teachers have received training through Aarambh across 4,800 schools, since 2016. With a developing knowledge economy and a growing digital workforce, we want to address a category of potential users who are unaware/ in need of upskilling, to understand the benefits of PC technology in education. As per the findings of this research, 96% of the Aarambh trained teachers from smaller cities opined that the significance of PC had increased in their daily lives after the training as compared to untrained teachers. It would be also interesting to note that the Aarambh training program has made teachers and principals, open to embracing and adopting PC technology. Another interesting point that the research showed was that, 90% of the teachers also felt that computers create a positive impact on a student's learning curve. This only reaffirms the fact that PC is inevitable, and we are ensuring that we reach out to the remotest corners of India, including Tier 3, 4 and 5 cities to bridge the existing gap. 

What is the frequency of the research? When was the last research conducted and is there any significant difference in the findings as compared to the previous year?

This is the first time that we have conducted the assessment since the program’s inception in 2016. 

What are the challenges that you faced in conducting this program? How did you navigate the situation during the pandemic? Did you witness more people participating in the training due to lockdown restrictions?

The study was planned in advance for 2020. We had to recalibrate and shift our training mechanism to online webinars, which took place over the course of the year and are well attended by teachers and even parents. To make these webinars engaging and to create an impact we roped in skilled educators to help with the basic and advanced training modules. Our research reflected that 8 out of 10 teachers were comfortable with online training and so far we’ve trained 10,398 teachers online. The participation numbers are surely encouraging. 

How do you go about identifying your cities and your people for imparting this computer learning? Are there any norms or criteria laid out in choosing the right people for training?

We started with 79 cities across India. The cities were chosen basis volume and reach. Aarambh schools were selected basis initial use of tech – for example, the presence of a PC lab at the school. Of course, now that Aarambh is available online, this has evolved. On our training partners, we started with NIIT and gradually sourced trainers who could use course content developed in partnership with NIIT and Tata Class Edge. Aarambh not only focuses on imparting computer learning, but also on helping teachers find the best of use of technology to in teaching. The main aim of the program is to make sure that every teacher is equipped to use technology to make learning more effective and enjoyable for students. We have imparted training not only to teachers who have had prior experience in working with a computer or technology, but also to teachers who have had no prior experience. Now we have moved to online training and therefore, it is open to all teachers. On webinar platforms, teachers can register and choose which training they want basis available content; both basic and advanced training are held every week online. 

Finally, what are the visible trends that you have noticed in your training in the last 4 years? How do you address the communication and language barrier while giving training?

Interesting question! One of the visible trends with the PC emerging as the central go-to technology, for teachers, parents, and students, is that it has evolved into a mode of engagement for multiple needs such as upskilling, education, entertainment, communication, and/or work. We have noticed that those who had attended Dell Aarambh training displayed a change in attitude towards technology, a significant difference in the perception and application of PCs in education. We also found that Aarambh training sessions have motivated teachers to utilise technology and other interactive resources such as smartboards, effectively. 70% of Aarambh trained teachers stated that PCs enabled them to provide more “demonstrative”/ “interactive” examples to students and 65% said it helps students in understanding concepts easily.

When we started, we noticed that teachers had little knowledge about computers and use of technology in education. Today, 4 years later, we have teachers attending the webinars and coming prepared with their specific queries, leading to more interactive sessions.

In terms of addressing the communication and language barriers, all Dell Aarambh trainers have been locally selected and are specific to the regions we operate in. The trainers make sure that the session is interactive and if there is even one teacher who faces any difficulty, the trainer adjusts his/her communication to suit the requirements. For online, we use English as medium of communication as teachers vary from across different locations in India.


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