- Course of 10 hours across five modules available on IBM Open PTECH
National Science Foundation predicts that 80 percent of jobs in the next decade will require some level of STEM skills and IBM estimates that STEM careers will offer 24% higher pay and longevity in the future. According to a study by IBM and Quest Alliance, the demand in Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing and data analysis related skills is growing globally.
The growing focus on STEM learning and 21st century skills development coupled with the need to provide dedicated attention to girls to drive inclusivity in science & technology became the foundation of the ‘STEM for Girls’ program in India. Two years hence, the STEM for Girls program continues to reach 200,000+ students across the country, providing hand-on learning of new technologies, a strong understanding of self, gender dynamics, and STEM careers.
In 2020 schools required to be closed due to the pandemic due to which all learning had to move online, and continue to do so. To address this significant requirement, we are launching ‘STEM for Girls’ program online to facilitate continuity of learning. In addition, we are also expanding the access of the program to students beyond the program schools and states as well. This was made possible following a year of deep and rigorous process to design a learning experience based on current experiences of school children & teachers across India.
STEM for Girls goes online
The STEM for Girls online is a course of 10 hours across five modules available on IBM Open PTECH. It was built to address critical areas of learning which are not otherwise included in the institutional learning spaces – e.g. focus on self-awareness, gender, career exploration. The content is aligned to larger purpose of education to make learners confident about themselves, help them find purpose, become critical thinkers, more observant of their context and become problem solvers.
The course is designed for young adults in the age group of 14 to 18 years, and relevant to learners from both urban and rural areas. Developed to provide as a bite-sized learning experience, it has interactive elements that trigger engagement, reflection and learning, thereby ensuring practical recall of the lessons. It’s combination of videos, self-assessment exercises along with reflection questions and reading handouts encourages learners to ask questions and articulate their understanding of concepts. The course is available on Open PTECH in three languages English, Hindi and Kannada.
It follows a story-telling mode to communicate key concepts. With a big focus on inclusion and diversity, the story characters and story lines have been developed to ensure representation of diversity– body type, religious, sexuality regional diversity. For example, the module on Gender introduces the learner to a story narrated from the perspective of a non-binary Gender. In the module Career Exploration, the learner follows the story of four characters - Nimmi, Rajesh, Firdaus and Pablo whose relatable character traits help learners differentiate and understand the dilemmas and scenarios of taking up a career path and negotiating through it.
The course intends to inculcate a STEM mindset among the learners while creating a self-learning experience. It focuses on building a scientific temperament and developmental thought process that builds on the learner’s curiosity, encourages them to ask questions and challenge the status quo. The STEM Careers module helps the learner understand STEM as a mindset - a way of life, its presence in our everyday life and moving beyond the traditional idea of STEM to its convergence with other streams. The module also includes a set of interesting interviews with women in diverse career streams using STEM skills and abilities in their everyday jobs.
The initial response to the course with school students and teachers have been very encouraging. The preference for self-paced learning, easy language, introductions to new vocabulary, and most importantly the ‘no answer is a wrong answer’ for mode for assessment provided an engaging and creative learning experience for learners. In future, the content will be integrated as part of the learning strategy in the IBM STEM for Girls flagship project. We intend to make the content accessible to as many young learners as well through multiple channels. We also plan to make it available in more Indian languages and build knowledge partnerships to enable content sharing with different organizations including state education departments.
The STEM for Girls online course is available on Open PTECH from 24th June 2021 and is accessible to all learners (students and teachers).
To access the course and register click here: https://ptech.yourlearning.ibm.com/activity/PLAN-71F41704A85
By Rumi Mitra, Leader, Strategy & New Initiatives, IBM India CSR and Neha Parti, Associate Director, Quest Alliance