IIT Madras & Madras Dyslexia Association launch Free Online Program

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Chennai: Indian Institute of Technology Madras is collaborating with Madras Dyslexia Association (MDA) to launch ‘e-Shikshanam,’ a free online teacher training program to ‘Provide Remedial Support to Children with Specific Learning Difficulties.’ ‘e-Shikshanam’ is being taken up in to train teachers and other stakeholders who work with a child with dyslexia-the first one addresses providing remedial instructions to children upto Class V across the country .

Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, launched the course at the campus today (25th April 2019) in the presence of Prof Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (International and Alumni Relations), IIT Madras, Prof Andrew Thangaraj, NPTEL Coordinator, IIT Madras, Prof R. Nagarajan, Head, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras, and representatives from MDA.

The course is open to Primary School Teachers (upto class 5) across the country. Madras Dyslexia Association is a non-profit organization that works on nurturing children with Dyslexia to reach their potential. National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) is the facilitator for the course.

Addressing the launch event, Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “We are delighted to see the different ways in which NPTEL program and the capabilities in IIT Madras system Is having an impact in so many other systems. Now, we are finding that the same capabilities in partnership with the appropriate partners can make a huge amount of difference. As an institute, we are delighted to be part of this initiative and am proud of my colleagues who have done this. I hope this will reach a lot.”

A Structured multi-modal teaching, done in the way the child learns, is the best way forward to enable these children to bridge the gap between their potential and their actual performance. MDA has evolved simple methods of identifying and remediating these young children. These strategies can be imparted to the children with learning difficulties in the course of their regular classroom learning process. This enhances the learning of the entire class hence does not have to be administered selectively.

Empowered mainstream teachers can facilitate the learning process for children with mild dyslexia within the comforts of the classroom. This inclusive approach buoys the child’s self-esteem. This in turn helps the child scale up his learning and performance.

Highlighting the unique aspects of this course, Mr. D. Chandrasekhar, President, Madras Dyslexia Association (MDA), said, “there are about 2 million children with dyslexia in Tamil Nadu alone and there are simple remedial measures to help them. Empowering the teachers is very important step. This is going to every school in India and in Sri Lanka and other countries where English is the medium of instruction.”

This course has been produced by NPTEL, IIT Madras, which also facilitated all the recordings and editing. The course is hosted on NPTEL web portal, which has enabled MDA to offer the course free of cost to anybody who is interested in equipping themselves with strategies to cope with difficulties in reading, spelling, writing and mathematics.

The NPTEL portal (https://onlinecourses.nptel.ac.in/) would act as a channel to take this course to a wide audience. This portal has enabled MDA to offer not just quality content but also quizzes that help the learner to recapitulate the learnings from the segment. Along with this the facility to ask questions and have discussions with MDA resources on related topics, makes it an effective and stimulating learning process.

The course has been structured to enable mainstream teachers to equip themselves along with their regular commitment towards their profession. It consists of modules such as Introduction to dyslexia, child development, screening, reading, spelling, writing, Math, study skills and Multiple Intelligence.

The infrastructure required (at the trainee’s end) for this program is very minimal-a computer with speakers and average Internet connection. The key features of this course are:

Ø It addresses mainstream teachers who teach at the primary school level.

Ø The trainees can do this course at their own pace.

Ø The understanding of the content is evaluated at the end of each module through assignments and quizzes.

Ø On completion of the course, to earn certification a trainee

· Needs to take an examination.

· View Case studies, analyze them, and answer related questions. The trainees gain from this experiential learning of a real-time situation so that they could practice applying the appropriate strategies.