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Improving educational outcomes & reducing absenteeism at remote villages with mobile technology and WhatsAPP: Findings from rural India

Abstract

Reduction of teacher and student absenteeism, together with consistent teacher support and training, are critical factors in improving the quality of education in rural India. As part of an ongoing project involving schools and educational centers in rural areas spread across 21 Indian states, this study investigated how implementation of two simple, accessible technologies could not only reduce absenteeism but also increase teachers’ effectiveness and improve student performance. In addition to students and teachers, key stakeholders included educational coordinators who provided support and monitoring regarding use of WhatsApp and two additional apps designed specifically to support simple educational improvements. In our study we coded and analyzed nine months of messages (n = 8968), both photographs and texts, posted by 26 participants. The number of text messages related to attendance was strongly positively correlated with frequency of interactions between coordinators and teachers. Our approach resulted in increased teacher and student attendance, as well as improvements in lessons and other planned educational activities. This model functions well in rural settings where there is poor internet connectivity and lack of supporting infrastructure. Remote schools can easily adopt this tablet-based model to reduce teacher absenteeism, improve teaching techniques, improve educational resources, and increase student performance.

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Acknowledgements

This work derives inspiration from the Chancellor of Amrita University, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. We are grateful for the support from the AmritaCREATE and AmritaRITE teams at Amrita University.

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Correspondence to Prema Nedungadi.

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Nedungadi, P., Mulki, K. & Raman, R. Improving educational outcomes & reducing absenteeism at remote villages with mobile technology and WhatsAPP: Findings from rural India. Educ Inf Technol 23, 113–127 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-017-9588-z

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Keywords

  • Tele-education
  • WhatsApp
  • Rural education
  • School education
  • Teacher monitoring
  • Teacher absence
  • ICT
  • Monitoring