The Aakash Tablet and Technological Imaginaries of Mass Education in Contemporary India
History and Technology, Volume 31, Issue 4, 2015
34 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2016
Date Written: December 21, 2015
We explore here public and private initiatives in technological solutions for educating the poor and the disadvantaged in India since the second half of the twentieth century. Specifically, we document Ministry of Human Resource Development’s project to develop an affordable tablet computer, named ‘Aakash,’ as a personal access device for digital courses and online learning materials. We approach this case study in relation to several educational technologies that preceded it, and with a wider interest in mapping a contemporary transition from satellite-based mass education to Internet-based mass education. We argue that this process cannot be easily seen as a transition from unilateral broadcasting to more democratic multi-casting model of communication and learning. Specifically, we study the manufacturing process of Aakash and the public debates around it, to comment on the nature of state power in India, as revealed in its attempts to imagine and develop a digital personal device to deliver mass education.
Keywords: Aakash tablet, e-learning, education technology, India, mass education, state power, technology failure
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