Previous pilot efforts towards encouraging global teaching partnerships have been very high-effort, niche partnerships. This project is unique in that it brings together expertise in technology-related fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Language Technologies, Robotics, and Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, with expertise in international development to propose a much more scalable, organic option that would complement such efforts. Existing resources developed in the team.s prior research such as state-of-the-art technology for supporting highly effective group learning provide both the infrastructure for the global professional development effort as well as one of the resources participating instructors can use. The technology for computer supported collaborative learning that we begin with has already been tested and proven successful on a small scale with multiple age groups (middle school, high school, and college aged students), multiple domains (psychology, earth sciences, mechanical engineering, and math), and multiple cultures (students in the U.S. and students in Taiwan). Thus, it has proven itself ready for testing in this more challenging, diverse, global on-line environment. The learning sciences principles that have provided the theoretical framework for its development have largely come from research conducted in the U.S. and in Europe.
In Spring of 2009 we launched a pilot effort in collaboration with IIT Guwahati, using the on-line version of Rose's Applied Machine Learning course as a platform for fostering collaborations with faculty at IIT Guwahati. This pilot effort spawned a current partnership co-supervising IIT Guwahati Design undergrad Vikram Chatterji's B-tech project related to search for low literacy users.
In this context, we have recently formed a partnership with Raj Reddy to launch this project in the context of Rajiv Ghandi University for Information Technology (RGUIT), which consists of three satellite campuses of IIIT Hyderabad, which are an outreach to the rural youth of India. One current direction is working to start a Learning Sciences track within one of the MSIT program at IIIT Hyderabad where content developers are trained to develop materials for the students at RGUIT. As a starting place, we have developed a set of on-line resources developed through the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center (PSLC). We are also starting a fortnightly reading group to encourage the exchange of ideas between Carnegie Mellon faculty and students and those at IIIT Hyderabad. The classrooms of RGUIT will be instrumented with computer based learning materials, authored with PSLC course development tools, which allow for detailed logs to be kept of student behavior, which can then be studied, in connection with pre/post tests, in order to learn more about the unique educational needs of this segment of society, and thus test the generality of learning principles that have largely been based on studies conducted in the US and in Europe. We are already in the midst of conducting a study to investigate the needs of low literacy users from this student population for support in information seeking using search technology. One component of this study is also being conducted in collaboration with the Design department at IIT Guwahati.
We have also been pleased to collaborate in small ways with Roni Rosenfeld, Jahanzeb Sherwani, and Jose Gonzalez-Brenes on related efforts in connection with education for development.