The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) India has started a national education initiative, CSpathshala in 2016, to teach computing as a science in schools from K-12. The goal is to reach all schools in India by the year 2030. India has 1.6 million schools with about 350 million students making this an ambitious and challenging project. A robust CS curriculum, a scalable teacher development and training program and a vibrant teacher community are critical for this initiative to succeed.
CSpathshala’s overall strategy is to
- Create awareness on why computer science should be taught in schools and how computer science is different from the current ICT curriculum.
- Shape a modern CS curriculum and develop detailed teaching aids.
- Empower teachers through teacher communities and upskill teachers through teacher training programs.
Starting with 15 schools in Pune in the 1st year(2016-17), the plan is to enlist 60-70 schools in the 2nd year and 216 schools from select cities in the 3rd year into a pilot program. Full scale deployment will commence in the 4th year.
In this report we present our major accomplishments running the CSpathshala initiative, the lessons learnt in the past 12 months along with the feedback received from the school teachers. We also present the 3 year plan that will help us rollout nationally from the 4th year.
CSpathshala has made progress at a tremendous pace in a very short time. This has been made possible due to the relentless efforts of over 100 volunteers from across the country and USA. The volunteers are helping in developing curriculum, teaching aids, reviewing and curating the teaching aids, conducting teacher training programs and mentoring teachers. The volunteer team is expected to grow substantially from next year and when we start crowdsourcing translation of content to vernacular languages. The highlights are as given below:
- Established an extended core committee and curriculum committee comprising academicians, industry experts and computing teachers.
- Working towards establishing chapters and teacher communities in Pune, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kochi
- Curriculum comprising topics – Problem Solving & Discrete Maths, Programming, Data, Algorithms and Digital literacy, for grades 1-8 developed
- Teaching aids for 20 lessons/ grade delivered for grades 1-5 to 15 pilots schools reaching 5000 students
- 100+ volunteers from across the country & USA involved in content development
- Workshops & training programs: 15. Details of the workshops and training programs are given below in table 1.
Table 1: Workshops in 2016
Plan (3 Years)
The first 3 year plan has been formulated keeping in mind the overall vision and goals of the initiative. To bring about uniformity in curriculum and help upskill teachers, the initial focus is on curriculum building, detailed content creation, teacher training and creation of teacher communities. The plan is detailed below in table 2.
|Initiatives||Deliverables & Dates|
|Organize awareness workshops targeting school principals and computing teachers to highlight why computing should be taught as science. Invite eminent personalities from the field of computing to deliver keynote. Sign up schools interested in joining pilot program||5 workshops in 2016-17 to 30 Workshops in 2018-19|
|Curriculum committee with participation from academia, industry and educators to develop CS curriculum||Curriculum committee has developed CS curriculum. The curriculum is being detailed to aid content creation. We plan to complete this by March 2017.|
|Develop teaching aids for teachers in the form of slide deck, lesson plans and student worksheets||20 Lessons/grade for grades 1-5 from pilot CS curriculum have been delivered to pilot schools. 20 Lessons for grades 1-8 underway and to be completed by May 2017. All content development for 40 lessons to be completed by Dec 2017.|
|Pilot CS curriculum in schools.
|From 15 schools (grades 1-5) in 2016-17 in Pune to 216 schools (grades 1-8) in 2018-19 in select cities.|
|Organize teachers training program on CS topics as well as curriculum. The programs are driven through teacher communities.||228 teachers/75 schools in 2016-17 to 1366 teachers/706 schools in 2018-19|
|Teacher communities. Encourage teachers and communities to provide feedback, modify and upload content||Collaborative platform (learn.cspathshala.org) has been launched for teachers to interact, share experiences, examples and upload modified content. Would be made available to students and parents in 2017.|
|Translate content to vernacular languages using crowd-sourcing, so that curriculum can be piloted in government schools. Initial languages other than English to deliver content to be Marathi and Hindi.||Marathi translation pilot to start in 2017.|
|Connect with education boards and hold discussions so as to influence the boards to define and adopt a national CS curriculum.||Maharashtra and Delhi governments and state education boards to be approached in 2017.|
|Develop a robust assessment framework to measure teacher and student development||Exploring potential partners to develop framework by Jun 2017.|
|To broaden reach further, partner with NGOs working in the education sector, Publishing house, BEd Colleges, Universities as well trusts and societies running schools.||Exploring partnership with Teach For India, MCE Society, A publishing house and several others.|
|National Rollout for grades 1-8||2019 onwards|
Table 2: CSpathshala 3 year plan
CSpathshala has a strong backing from academia and an exceptionally encouraging response from schools. The response from volunteers has been overwhelming. Over 100 volunteers are associated with the project and we continue to get new volunteers to join the initiative. Leading a volunteer based organization has been a great learning experience. Some of the challenges faced and lessons learnt are:
- Schools are appreciating that not just a curriculum but teaching aids are provided to teachers. Teachers are providing feedback and uploading content. The idea of providing teaching aids has worked and therefore something we need to continue to focus on.
- While teacher community has been active in Delhi organizing the Delhi workshop and the community in Chennai and Kochi organizing the workshops in respective cities, forming teacher community in Pune has been a struggle primarily as no prior community existed. CSpathshala team has been handholding and nudging them.
- The existing ICT curriculum is synonymous with carrying out activities in a computer lab. CSpathshala curriculum and content introduces CS as a subject with lot of offline, pen and paper based. Some of the pilot schools have raised a concern as both children and parents can become restless when computer are not used in the classroom. We need to raise awareness on difference between ICT and CS.
- Parents are a key stakeholder. Students and Parents will be provided access to the content on learn.cspathshala.org. We are also exploring partnership with publishing houses for the same.
The above are highlights of the lessons learnt and we are likely to face several challenges as we make further progress.
Feedback from schools
The feedback from schools has very positive and encouraging. Overall the schools have liked the new CS curriculum and the quality of teaching aid. A few comments from the teachers are reproduced below.
“Thanks for all your support. Kids are enjoying the classes”, Mrs. Madhulika Bhupatkar, Principal, Gurukul
“We are giving some home work also. e.g. write an algorithm to pack your bag. Write an algorithm to finish the home work etc. Concept of loop was given. Students response to it was extremely good. They gave beautiful examples from day to day life.”, Class IV, Mrs. Athale, Vikhe Patil School
“This session was one of the best sessions cause kids came out with very good examples of algorithm in day to day life. Could do with some more examples to explain to students”, Class V, Mrs. Bhalwankar, Millennium National School
Overall CSpathshala has made excellent progress in the past 12 months. CSpathshala is developing a modern CS curriculum, has organized 15 workshops, developed and delivered content for 20 lessons/grade for grades 1-5, to 15 schools reaching 5000 students in 2016. We grateful for the overwhelming response we have received from academicians, teachers and volunteers.