A social networking and information mega-portal for Parents, Teachers, Students, Business Owners and Schools engaged with Kindergarten to Class XII schooling in India!

Leveraging online social communities for improved learning outcomes

By SchoolJunction

Since Facebook (and to some extent even before) there has been a proliferation of social communities in cyberspace. Some, like Facebook, are really designed to cater to everyone, while others may target a particular demographic or age group. What is really interesting is the result achievable in terms of real impact on people’s lives by the outreach of social communities and the melting pot of ideas and discussions that they represent and facilitate.

Education is a big factor in shaping an individual’s life. This also happens to be a segment where online communities targeted at people who are involved in disseminating education, receiving education or facilitating it (“online educational communities”) can play a major and revolutionary role. In this article, we take a look at just how online educational communities like SchoolJunction (a portal aimed at K-12 education in India and targeted to be launched in February 2013) can help uplift the quality of education and add transparency to the schooling process.

The structure under which the above-mentioned goals are achieved using educational online communities may be partitioned into the following steps.

1. Publishing of actionable data by those involved with education in any way

Online educational communities provide a platform where parents, teachers and even students can write comments that include data which in turn points to best and working practices, practices that can benefit from reform (bouquet/brickbat) and their own daily experiences with education. For example a parent may applaud or recommend a school that includes the art of public speaking and nurtures the ability to face an audience confidently early in a child’s life. Or they may express concern over the fact that the school that their wards attends has restricted the number of recesses from two to just one – leading to an extended period when the child needs food in order to perform at his/her best but is forced to wait until that one recess.

2. Discussions around issues and actionable data to enable consensus towards an acceptable solution

Once actionable data is published and issues identified by the community (which would be a continuous process) its members can participate in forums and discussion boards hosted by that community to voice their thoughts in a constructive manner where some venting is ok, but the general trend would be to first acknowledge that the problem exists on a scale where resolution is required. They could, for instance, identify that the way a particular schools’ class is being instructed in the concept of negative numbers is not going down well with students. More parents could join the discussion leading to the conclusion that this indeed is a general problem affecting the majority of students in that class and needs addressing. They could then discuss the problem with teachers of that school and school representatives if they are also members of this online educational community. In addition, they could discuss this online with parents and teachers of other schools to understand alternative techniques that may help overcome this roadblock in their children’s learning.

3. The execution of actions that resolve an issue

Developing the case mentioned in point (2) above further, parents can choose a member or a group of members as their representative to the school. This representative would bring this concern and recommendations to the school’s attention, with the goal of having the school take the requisite action that solves the issue to the satisfaction of parents (gauged by the parents’ response to the school’s action on the online forum of the educational online community).

In the abovementioned steps, it is basically the online educational community fueling parents’ empowerment by providing a platform that hosts actionable data and enables constructive discussion. It would indeed be a big challenge, if not just downright impractical, to achieve a similar result without the enabling services of an online educational community.
Manish srivastava
nice article
Sandeep Acharya
Great concept, eloquently explained and brilliantly executed by SchoolJunction! All the best, guys!
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