Jun 28, 2018

Pratham Seattle Hosts Technology: A Game Changer in India’s Education Challenge?


On May 21, Pratham Seattle hosted “Technology: A Game Changer in India’s Education Challenge?,” an informal discussion between local technologists and Dr. Madhav Chavan, co-founder and president of Pratham.

Hosted at the Westin Bellevue, speakers included Pradeep Singh, chairman of Pratham Seattle; Ben Slivka, co-founder of DreamBox Learning; and Nishant Baghel, director of technology innovation at Pratham.

Dr. Chavan and Mr. Baghel gave an overview of Pratham and its approach to technology, stressing a clear need to shift away from traditional learning models—a shift made possible by technology. According to Dr. Chavan, “If the classroom remains the same, facing the class teacher and it’s one curriculum for everybody and there’s no creativity, then we have a problem and this classroom has to be changed.”

The evolving role of technology in education was also discussed. Emphasizing the value of the adaptive, hands-on nature of technology, Mr. Slivka explained, “We have a lot of myths, especially among college graduates, about what school is and why it’s a good thing. We’d be way better off if kids learned by doing, which is how human beings have evolved for all these years.”

Mr. Singh reiterated the importance of the human element based on his own experience with edtech: “If there is not a human enforcer enforcing your attention it’s really difficult to keep you there. We thought it will be no problem. Just replace bad teachers with good teachers on video and it will work. It took a bunch of time to realize, kids just don’t pay attention.”

Despite the wide spectrum of viewpoints represented, the overall consensus was that technology can be fused with existing programs to enhance proven methods and make them even more effective.

Watch the video to catch the full discussion. Cover photo courtesy of Susmita Tantubay.