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Laptops For SchoolsProject-Based Learning at DIL Schools

Critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork are key 21st century skills students entering the workforce of tomorrow need to master. DIL is at the forefront of providing opportunities for our students to acquire these skills while also integrating technology into the learning process. Project-based activities are an important component of our IT curriculum. Through the program, DIL middle school kids are mastering skills such as web browsing, using search engines, photo editing and PowerPoint presentation. Here is a typical example of this program in action:

In April of this year, students in Khaipur, Sindh learned about hygiene-borne diseases and illnesses. As part of that unit, they researched the causes behind GI illnesses. The classroom discussion was followed by fieldwork and students conducted a survey to establish the prevalence of GI illnesses in their village. They analyzed the data, shared notes and realized that small children and the elderly were particularly at risk and poor food preparation was the main reason people fell sick. The children then went on to spread awareness at home and in the community on symptoms and treatment, as well as simple hygiene practices.

Technology Integration through DIL Laptops Program

Children in poor rural schools in Pakistan today are unable to benefit from 21st century learning opportunities as they lack access to computers and teachers lack IT literacy. These communities cannot even count on the basics such as a reliable power source or Internet connectivity. DIL’s pioneering Laptops for Schools project attempts to address this problem, and early signs are that it is turning into a resounding success.

Started in December 2013, Laptops for Schools is a 15-month project aimed at improving the quality of primary education in the underserved schools of rural Pakistan through use of high-quality multimedia learning material.

These laptops provide an affordable, easy-to-use, convenient alternative to traditional approaches of setting up computer labs and waiting to connect to the fiber optic grid.

The DIL IT Department conducted a small pre-pilot test in December 2012 with seven partner schools. In this pre-pilot, used laptops with Khan Academy’s open source learning videos on core subjects were provided to these primary schools situated in the slum areas of Islamabad. The media content also contained videos for teachers’ professional development as well as the core subject material for the students. The teachers were trained in the use of laptops and the media content in order to effectively use this material in the classroom.

In 2014, DIL scaled the program up to 20 schools spread it across lower Dir, Khairpur, Mansehra and Sheikhupura. Now we are adding solar panels, providing additional content and supporting the teachers with training and online support. The results from the initial assessments and follow-up have been very encouraging. Teachers are able to use the hardware, access videos, select relevant content and troubleshoot when necessary.