“Computer Masti”, providing interactive solutions to teach computer science in schools

by · May 17, 2012

In the twenty first century, computer and Internet skills have acquired the relevance of life-skills and become benchmarks of literacy along with the traditional 3Rs- reading, writing and arithmetic. Schools have largely taken the responsibility for equipping the new generation with the technical skills. The integration of ICT into the school curriculum is instrumental in developing a culture of thinking, lifelong learning and social responsibility. It is particularly important for developing countries to invest in computer education as this can be instrumental in building indigenous technological capability and greater independence in the long run.

In India, less than 10 percent of all the schools have a computer and these are skewed in favor of urban areas (26.41%) while the rural areas (6.66%) are marginalized. Even when computers are considered for study in schools, the emphasis is largely on acquiring the technology (computers) per se and there is little deliberation on what should be on what should be taught at each level. The national and some state education boards have defined a course for high school, but kept the content fairly open for elementary and middle school levels. In the absence of clearly defined computer science curriculum, computers could be relegated as entertainment devices. On the other hand, a systematic curriculum can develop technical skills, clarity of though, and nurture positive attitude towards the technology. Computer Masti is instrumental in developing algorithmic thinking and organization skills. This will not only lay a foundation for future programming skills, but also develop important life skills.

This is a story where we in the west can look to the developing world, to a country like India who is using technology innovatively. We are talking about Computer Masti, which is a great and fun way of introducing technology and computers to children where interactivity is done in the most creative way, using a series of books, four of which are already out and the rest are in progress. Children read the book and meet three new friends – Jyoti,Tejas who learn the computer and are amazed by the way a computer works and Moz, their teacher mouse! ‘Masti’ in Hindi means fun and Computer Masti has come out of extensive research created and developed at IIT Bombay in collaboration with InOPEN Technologies.

“The whole idea that Computer Science as a medium to learn logic can be very powerful excites us. Imagine the huge potential considering that PC’s and Laptops have become a quintessential object in everybody home”

Computer Masti provides a unique opportunity for boosting natural ways of learning. Integration of
ICT into the school curriculum is instrumental in developing a culture of thinking, lifelong learning
and social responsibility.

Computer Masti Team began the process of writing instruction material for computer education started with a study of existing curriculum of various educational boards of India as well as other developing countries such as Pakistan and developed countries such as United States. They found that Indian Education boards define standards to be met for grades 9-12, but standards/details of what should be taught in previous grades were missing. Hence, the team started out identifying topics to be taught in various grades and rationale for the same. Computer Masti (CM) curriculum for each standard is broadly divided into three groups: basic concepts, usage skills and social aspects. The course aims to establish computer fluency by addressing cognitive (clarity of thought include with topics such as step wise thinking, logical reasoning, systematic gathering information, brain storming and mind mapping, multiple representation), behavioral (e.g IT usage skills such as word processing, drawing graphs, data analysis, multimedia presentation) and affective components (e.g positive computer attitude). Computer Masti adopts a reverse thematic integration approach; in that it reinforce topics taught in other subjects while teaching computer concepts and skills. The curriculum is spiral, as learning of new topics or advanced features is based on the previous understanding and explicit connections are made to topics already taught.

Computer Masti has been implemented in 4 schools of Nagpur which are as follows:

  • R S Mundle English School.
  • MKH Sancheti Public School.
  • Smt. Meerabai Sancheti Girls High School.
  • Smt. Tarkunde Dharampeth High School.

The student response has been really good and appreciating for our program “I have always looked forward to computer science classes and after CM was introduced in our school, my teacher has been involving us in various fun and group-based activities. My friends and I have such a blast during our lab exercises and no longer do I look at assignments with scorn.”  Says Krishiv Vora, a class 5 student of Jamnabai Narsee School, Mumbai

The implementation process adopted by InOpen is fairly interesting. InOpen and IIT Bombay strongly believes that in Education Sector ‘One Size doesn’t fit all’. They believe that every school is different and comes with it own learning. Every School gets its customized curriculum which involves a different set of learning material, extensive training and assessment guidelines. The goal is to help Schools reach the right level.

The feedback from the industry has been great. We started implementing Computer Masti from Dec 2009. From 2000 students we now serve approx 40,000 students spread across 52 schools. We have trained more than 350 teachers so far Computer Masti is also now available on 8 Indian Languages and 2 Foreign Languages. The E-Book has been downloaded in 120 countries.

We plan to slowly and gradually expand and make CM available to masses by means of conducting
workshops, summer and winter camps and other activities.

Computer Masti is looking forward to expand its operation in Rajasthan and other nearby states.
The aim is to make Computer Science a fun loving exercise.

This  Article is written By Mr.Rupesh Shah-CEO and Co-Founder, InOpen Technologies (A Sine IIT Company)

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