Lessons from India—School Technology Leaders Reveal Big Takeaways Following International Delegation

Incredible India: Endless Possibilities
Washington, DC
Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Washington, DC (March 16, 2016) – How is India accelerating educational success through information and communications technologies? What is the country doing to redefine and advance the skills of students today?

These were just some of the questions school system technology leaders sought to uncover during CoSN’s (the Consortium for School Networking’s) delegation to India last November.

CoSN today revealed the following takeaways from the 11-day educational trip in the new report, Incredible India: Endless Possibilities:

  • The “can do” spirit is the essence of India. There is an optimism that life can get better, and that education is at the heart of making that happen.
  • The people of India are truly its greatest asset – investment in human capital is viewed as a means to grow India into a strong nation.
  • There is always a Plan B when technology fails; it is not used as an excuse but as a way to be creative when the Internet or power fails.
  • India starts with the fundamental premise that things can and will change.

“India has successfully addressed inequities by leveraging educational innovation,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “By visiting and observing their practices up close, we are able to share their powerful story with educators and policymakers to help further transform and personalize learning all across North America.”

During the delegation, participants met with key government and education officials as well as leading NGOs to get a first-hand look at the role of technology in India’s formal and informal education systems. They also visited both public and private schools to get a better sense of how technology is being used in learning.

Incredible India captures these observations and poses some related questions for policymakers and educators outside of India, particularly in the United States and Canada, to consider. The key lessons learned from the experience are:

  1. Formulate a clear vision and make a commitment to translate the vision into reality. In India, that vision and commitment was apparent in the conversations held with education leaders, as well as students and teachers. In the United States, educators and leaders can do a better job articulating the vision and making the hard decision to find the resources – both financial and human – to make it happen.
  2. Develop a “Plan B.” In India, there is always a “Plan B” if first attempts at technology do not work – or resources are missing. The Indians have found ways to work around the lack of connectivity – and even the absence of electricity – without sacrificing education. U.S. educators need to take this same approach in planning for times when technology fails and develop a Plan B, not as an excuse, but as an alternative.
  3. Build partnerships. India is looking for transformative change in the way they are delivering education. To do this, they are deploying solutions that are both broad and deep in scope. This, in turn, requires partnerships with government, NGOs, the private sector, and communities. The power of those partnerships is a significant factor in improving education in India and an example for U.S. educators to follow.
  4. Educate the whole child. The holistic approach to child development was evident in Indian schools. The curriculum included academic subjects, as well as art, music and even Yoga and meditation. All too often, U.S schools have eliminated subjects like art and music that enrich the learning experience.

“What India is doing to accelerate success at each grade level is truly incredible. Hopefully the lessons we learned will inspire greater and more impactful educational innovation in all North American school systems,” said Irene Spero, Chief Strategy Officer, CoSN.

Watch the video chronicling the delegation and up-close observations here, and read blogs from the trip here.

This marked CoSN’s ninth delegation as part of its global leadership efforts, following trips to Singapore (2015), Portugal (2013), London and Paris (2011), South America (2011), Scotland and the Netherlands (2009), Scandinavia (2007), Australia (2004), and the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, and Germany (2002).

The CoSN delegation to India is made possible through the support of HP.

To learn more about the report as well as CoSN’s global leadership efforts – including details regarding CoSN’s annual International Symposium with UNESCO on April 6 in Washington, DC – please visit: cosn.org/international.

CoSN 2016 Annual Conference

CoSN will hold its 2016 Annual Conference in Washington, DC, on April 4-7. Themed Accelerating Success: Powered by an eLearning Culture, the Conference will bring together education experts and leaders from across the globe for conversations on how school systems can change their organizational cultures and embrace digital learning environments. Learn more and register at: cosnconference.org.

About CoSN

CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. The mission of CoSN is to empower educational leaders to leverage technology to realize engaging learning environments. Visit cosn.org or call 866-267-08747 to find out more about CoSN’s focus areas, annual conference and events, advocacy and policy, membership and the CETL certification exam.