27 January, 2016

Tata Trusts, MIT, and TISS collaborate to bring connected learning experiences to Indian students and teachers

Tata Trusts' Connected Learning Initiative (CLIx) founded in collaboration with MIT and TISS will integrate technology for active learning in secondary schools

Tata Trusts, a philanthropic organisation that works to advance community and educational development in India, will collaborate with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to launch the Connected Learning Initiative (CLIx), a program to create new learning experiences and educational opportunities for secondary school students in India, in grades 8 through 11.

Ratan Tata seated with L Rafael Reif and S Ramadorai

Over 1,000 schools across four Indian states — Mizoram, Telangana, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh — have agreed to participate in CLIx, allowing it to reach an estimated 165,000 students by 2018-19. The program will offer content in both English and in regional languages, starting with Hindi and Telugu, and will offer curriculum in English, science, mathematics, and professional values. An additional major focus will be on professional development for roughly 4,400 teachers in the four states.

Today's announcement of the launch of CLIx in Mumbai, was attended by Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Trusts; L Rafael Reif, president, MIT; S Ramadorai, chairperson of the Board; S Parasuraman, director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS); and representatives of the four Indian states and Ministry of Human Resource Development that will participate in CLIx.

"Tata Trusts have initiated partnership with the finest institutions globally to find innovative solutions to pressing social issues in India," Mr Tata says. "Indian education is at a crossroads with large numbers of students entering secondary education for the first time in Indian education history on one hand, and new advances in technology and connectivity on the other. We have a unique opportunity to provide quality education at scale. Through focus on English, Science, Mathematics, and values for work preparedness, CLIx promises to break new ground."


CLIx will align technology-integrated offerings with existing school curricula. In sync with India's national goal of improving the quality of secondary education, the initiative intends to leverage new technologies, enhance professional development of teachers, and create an open ecosystem to foster collaboration for innovation.


CLIx has its roots in a visit Mr Tata made to MIT several years ago, in which President Reif and others from MIT's Office of Digital Learning described edX — an online-learning platform, launched by MIT and Harvard University, that offers university-level coursework to learners worldwide. Inspired by the potential to use digital tools to enhance secondary education on a very large scale, Mr Tata began the conversations that led to CLIx. After a year of work by Tata Trusts, MIT and TISS, CLIx will leverage OpenEdX, along with other educational technology, to deliver active learning resources and experiences to students in Indian secondary schools.

"At MIT, we believe online learning technologies can offer teachers (and learners) everywhere the tools to transform the educational experience by engaging students in active learning that stimulates their curiosity, makes every lesson more memorable and helps build skills relevant to students' experiences," says President Reif. He adds, "CLIx is the most ambitious effort to date to put these ideas into practice, and we are honored to be working with the Tata Trusts toward our shared vision of quality learning for all."

CLIx will offer young people, especially from low- and middle-income rural areas of India, access to interactive, hands-on learning experiences to advance their knowledge and skills, and to instill values to help them succeed as professionals and citizens, with a focus on cultivating students' sense of professionalism.

CLIx's instruction is largely interactive and hands-on, making it a valuable complement to the education currently offered in India's secondary schools. It augments the existing curriculum in grades 8, 9, and 11, so that it does not interfere with the all-important Board Exams that Indian students take in grades 10 and 12.

A central focus for CLIx is building capacity in the system to help these educational enhancements take root and spread. Accordingly, the initiative will not only prepare teachers to blend online technologies into their teaching, but will build a cadre of educators prepared to become digital learning innovators themselves.

The Centre for Education Innovation and Action Research has been created at TISS to incubate CLIx, and it will serve as the key Indian collaborator with MIT.

"We believe that the CLIx initiative will help to energise and transform secondary schools by providing innovative and powerful experiences for students and for teachers.  The scale proposed and the effort to reach and connect with rural and semi-rural schools using Indian languages makes CLIx a unique initiative.  Indian education needs scalable solutions to improve quality education for the large cohort of youth who are first generation school goers. It is a privilege for us to be working with the Tata Trusts and the MIT and to lead CLIx in India', said Mr S Parasuraman, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

A strong focus on research, measurement, and impact assessment will inform the future scale-up of CLIx. Agreements signed with the four state governments participating in CLIx will leverage and strengthen existing infrastructure in those states' high schools. The project will also draw upon the expertise of carefully selected curriculum development partners such as Eklavya, the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education and the National Institute of Advanced Studies, as well as implementation partners like Mizoram University, State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT) Telangana, the Centre for Education Research and Practice, and UNICEF Chhattisgarh.

About Tata Trusts
Tata Trusts are amongst India's oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organisations that work in several areas of community development. Tata Trusts seek to be catalysts in development through partnerships and direct implementation in the areas of Natural Resources Management, Rural Livelihoods, Urban Livelihoods & Poverty, Education, Enhancing Civil Society and Governance, Health and Arts, Crafts and Culture. Trusts engage competent persons and government bodies, international agencies and like-minded private sector organizations to nurture a self-sustaining eco-system. It has a strong legacy of building higher education institutions such as Indian Institute of Social Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and others. For more information please visit www.tatatrusts.org

About MIT
The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. The Institute is an independent, coeducational, privately endowed university, organized into five schools (architecture and planning; engineering; humanities, arts, and social sciences; management; and science). It has some 1,000 faculty members, more than 11,000 students, and more than 130,000 living alumni. At its founding in 1861, MIT was an educational innovation, a community of hands-on problem solvers in love with fundamental science and eager to make the world a better place. Today, that spirit still guides how MIT educates students on campus and how it shapes new digital learning technologies to make MIT teaching accessible to millions of learners around the world. Indeed, in his 2012 inaugural speech, President L Rafael Reif challenged MIT to become a lab to explore the future of higher education. Since then, MIT's nonprofit online learning platform, edX, has engaged more than 6 million learners drawn from every country on Earth. For more information please visit www.mit.edu

About TISS
TISS is India's premier university for applied social sciences and development. TISS has nurtured a culture of values and commitment to work with the underprivileged sections of India in ways that positively contribute to development. Faculty and students at TISS are encouraged and supported to take up large scale action research studies that can inform policy and to also engage with policy advocacy. The faculty in education are active on the Indian education science—as researchers, teachers and policy advocates. TISS has initiated pioneering programmes in education such as Masters in Elementary Education in blended and face to face form that aim to develop professionals for this sector. TISS is also developing programmes in teacher education. For more information visit www.tiss.edu

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