The Web has a wealth of educational information across different topics, which can potentially be used to improve teaching. In an attempt to harness this potential we developed a Contextual Information Portal(CIP) for education and deployed it in schools in Kenya and India. The portal crawls the Web and tries to collect documents for different subjects and creates a repository of relevant information. In this context two very basic question arise: (1) What is the quality of these online contents? and (2) Can these educational web materials be effectively used to teach classes? Answering the former question is fundamentally hard since there exists no standardized measure for the utility of web-based educational resources. This paper aims to answer these two questions in this larger realm. First, using 6 expert teachers, we study the content quality problem from a teacher's perspective of whether there exists sufficient information on the Web to teach classes pertaining to the school syllabus. To investigate the second question, we accepted the help of an expert teacher. Evaluations were based on her feedback after creating lesson plans using the CIP for grade 8 mathematics and taught several classes in an after-school program. We found that in general, the Web has sufficient number of high-quality contents and lesson plans obtained from the CIP are useful in teaching a class.
Contextual Information Portals (CIPs) are large searchable information repositories of web pages tailored to the information needs of a target population. We combine an efficient classifier with a focused crawler to gather the web pages for the portal for any given topic. Given a set of topics of interest, our system constructs a CIP containing the most relevant pages from the web across these topics. Using several secondary school course syllabi, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our system for constructing CIPs for use as an education resource. CIP is preliminarily deployed at an after-school program in India, and also at a larger-scale pilot deployment at five schools in Kenya
Sunandan Chakraborty, Jay Chen, Mangala Kanthamani, Lakshminarayanan Subramanian. "On the Feasibility and Utility of Web based Educational Lesson Plans", ACM DEV 2012, Atlanta, USA [PDF]
Jay Chen, Russell Power, Lakshmi Subramananian, and Jonathan Ledlie. "Design and Implementation of Contextual Information Portals", WWW, 2011, Hyderabad, India. [PDF]
Jay Chen, Trishank Karthik, and Lakshmi Subramanian. "Contextual Information Portals", AAAI Spring Symposium on AI for Development (AAAI) Stanford, USA, March 2010. [PDF]
Russell Power, Jay Chen, Trishank Karthik, and Lakshmi Subramanian. "Document Classification for Focused Topics". AAAI Spring Symposium on AI for Development (AAAI) Stanford, USA, March 2010.[PDF]