Smart classrooms aim to teach students through smart ways to make them smarter.
CLP, USA (formerly VAB-NJ) in collaboration with its Bangladeshi partner Dnet, Bangladesh is engaged in empowering underprivileged youth through introducing innovative modern technology-based programs. The team introduced the unique Computer Literacy Center (CLC) concept in Bangladesh in 2004 with a focus on training underprivileged rural youths on basic computer skills. The CLC is a turn-key computer lab with a minimum of four computers with trained teachers, a thought-through curriculum, direct supervision and active maintenance plan. Smart Classroom (SCR) concept in 2009 was initiated for improved teaching to students in rural schools from educational multi-media CDs displaying subject contents on a large screen monitor. Smart Classroom includes a large TV screen (a projector can also be used) with sound, a computer, digital contents, Internet connection and optional solar power back-up in a secondary/high school. Four subject teachers from each school have been invited to receive intensive training on Multimedia Classroom Orientation and Usage of ICT in Classroom. Trained teachers conduct their classes with the help of these equipment and appropriate contents. Subsequently, the CLP-Dnet Team engaged the ICT Ministry of Bangladesh Government under a Public-Private-Partnership (3P) agreement to develop teaching contents and build 100 Smart Classrooms across Bangladesh. Since then team has established 161 Smart Classrooms across Bangladesh and total 644 teachers have been trained to date.
While all subjects could be gainfully taught in the Smart Classroom, team’s initial focus was on four subjects: English, Geography, Mathematics, and Science. In 2011 the team arranged a workshop for selected high school teachers to seek their input on the topical areas that they would prefer to teach from multi-media contents. With feedback from this teachers’ workshop, multi-media contents consisting of an assortment of videos, animated games, flash animations, power-point slides were developed with the help of experts for nine NCTBs (National Curriculum and Textbook Board) covering four major subjects (plus English Grammar) and multiple classes (detailed out in the table-01).
These contents are designed to make an abstract lesson easier to make sense. The benefits of the contents are maximized when a trained teacher get to conduct classes in a smart classroom.
Unfortunately for the Smart Classroom users, the National Curriculum and consequently the text books were revised in Bangladesh and a good portion of the originally developed contents became obsolete and demand for new contents became apparent. Dnet team engaged a research team from Institute of Education and Research (IER), University of Dhaka in 2015 to map the existing NCTBs and determine how many contents originally developed in 2011 are still useable and delineate the need for new contents. The findings of this study are summarized in the Table below. Next, guided by this need analysis the team produced the required new multimedia teaching contents (some developed in-house and most others adapted from open source), as listed in the table 02.
It may be pointed out that the team also developed a detailed step-by-step lesson plan for each period for each of the nine subjects to guide the teachers on how to conduct the class and to communicate with the students. Some lesson plans contain more than one multi-media visuals and some do not even contain any. A computer CD containing teaching contents encompassing four subjects and multiple classes as well as all lesson plans for each textbook as shown in the table has been produced for use by the teachers. This CD (as illustrated in the picture) was provided to all schools with Smart Classrooms.
Collaboration with British Council Enhances the Model
The successes of Smart Classroom model attracted attention from the British Council (BC) Bangladesh, an international organization working in 110 countries for cultural relations and educational opportunities. BC started collaborating with Dnet in 2012. BC promoted CLP-Dnet initiatives through establishing 50 Smart Classrooms and 15 CLC (Computer Literacy Centers) and introducing an English and ICT After-School Club program in five of the CLP sponsored schools. Importantly, a British Council sponsored Smart Classroom and CLC impact evaluation study conducted by an external evaluator (Professor and Researcher from University of Dhaka) has confirmed the positive impacts of the Smart Classroom on learning of Science, Math, Geography, and ICT.
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