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The proliferation of mobile devices around the world, combined with falling costs of hardware and Internet connectivity, have resulted in an increasing number of organizations that work to introduce educational technology interventions into low-income schools in the Global South. However, to date, most prior HCI research examining such interventions has focused on interventions that target students. In this paper, we expand prior literature by examining an intervention, called Meghshala, that targets teachers in low-income schools as its primary users. Through interviews and observations with 39 participants from 12 government schools in India, we show how the introduction of a teacher-focused technology intervention causes teachers to reconfigure their work practices, including lesson preparation, in-classroom teaching practices, bureaucratic work processes, and post-teaching feedback mechanisms. We use the concept of material agency to analyze our findings with respect to teacher agency and reconfiguration, and use theories of teacher knowledge to highlight the kinds of knowledge production that teachers in our research context tend to focus on (e.g., content knowledge). Finally, we offer design opportunities for future teacher-focused technology interventions.
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How Teachers in India Reconfigure their Work Practices
around a Teacher-Oriented Technology Intervention
RAMA ADITHYA VARANASI, Department of Information Science, Cornell University, USA
RENÉ F. KIZILCEC, Department of Information Science, Cornell University, USA
NICOLA DELL, Department of Information Science, the Jacobs Institute, Cornell Tech, USA
The proliferation of mobile devices around the world, combined with falling costs of hardware and Internet
connectivity, have resulted in an increasing number of organizations that work to introduce educational
technology interventions into low-income schools in the Global South. However, to date, most prior HCI
research examining such interventions has focused on interventions that target students. In this paper, we
expand prior literature by examining an intervention, called Meghshala, that targets teachers in low-income
schools as its primary users. Through interviews and observations with 39 participants from 12 government
schools in India, we show how the introduction of a teacher-focused technology intervention causes teachers
to recongure their work practices, including lesson preparation, in-classroom teaching practices, bureaucratic
work processes, and post-teaching feedback mechanisms. We use the concept of material agency to analyze
our ndings with respect to teacher agency and reconguration, and use theories of teacher knowledge to
highlight the kinds of knowledge production that teachers in our research context tend to focus on (e.g.,
content knowledge). Finally, we oer design opportunities for future teacher-focused technology interventions.
CCS Concepts: Human-centered computing Empirical studies in HCI;
Additional Key Words and Phrases: HCI4D; ICTD; education; teacher development; agency; reconguration;
ACM Reference Format:
Rama Adithya Varanasi, René F. Kizilcec, and Nicola Dell. 2019. How Teachers in India Recongure their Work
Practices around a Teacher-Oriented Technology Intervention. Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact. 3, CSCW,
Article 220 (November 2019), 21 pages.
As mobile technologies become accessible and aordable within diverse communities in the Global
South, a growing number of HCI researchers and practitioner organizations have been working
to design and deploy technology interventions that aim to improve the quality of education in
low-income schools [
]. For the most part, the HCI interventions that have been
studied in prior work have been designed primarily for use by students (e.g., [
with teachers (sometimes) playing a supporting role in helping to deliver such interventions to
students [
]. However, there is a need for more HCI research examining interventions that
target teachers [
] and that aim to improve teacher professionalization in the Global South. In
this paper, we examine a technology intervention that specically targets teachers as its primary
Authors’ addresses: Rama Adithya Varanasi, Department of Information Science, Cornell University, New York, NY, USA;
René F. Kizilcec, Department of Information Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA; Nicola Dell, Department of
Information Science, the Jacobs Institute, Cornell Tech, New York, NY, USA.
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Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., Vol. 3, No. CSCW, Article 220. Publication date: November 2019.
Rama Adithya Varanasi, Rene F. Kizilcec,
Nicola Dell
users, and analyze how teachers in low-income government schools in India adapt and recongure
their work practices around such a teacher-oriented technology intervention.
We ground our eldwork in a specic case study of a teacher-focused intervention, namely
Meghshala [
]. Meghshala is a non-prot educational support organization based in Bangalore,
India whose main objective is to provide teachers with opportunities to improve their teaching
capacity by building their pedagogical knowledge. In late 2016, Meghshala created an Android-based
intervention that gives teachers access to hardware (tablets, projector, etc.), educational content for
use in class, teaching strategies, and in-person support and assistance.
We conducted observations, interviews, and focus groups with 39 school faculty (teachers and
principals) in 12 government schools to study how teachers respond to the introduction of such
an intervention. Our ndings show that teachers recongure multiple aspects of their work as
they seek to (1) provide better learning experiences for students, and (2) simplify or reduce their
own workloads, both inside and outside the classroom. We also show how the technology leads to
changes in the bureaucratic processes that govern teachers work, such as how teachers are often
required to prove that they are using the technology in class. Finally, we discuss how teachers
recongure the socio-technical support structures provided as part of the intervention, adapting
them in ways that expand teachers’ general technical knowledge beyond the intervention.
Our paper makes the following contributions to CSCW: (1) we oer a qualitative, empirical study
that analyzes how teachers in low-income schools recongure their everyday work practices to
accommodate a technology intervention specically designed for teachers, rather than students. This
intervention is based on easily-maintained mobile phones, and accompanied by in-person support,
and hence well adopted, even in low-income schools. (2) We use the concept of material agency
] to analyze our empirical ndings with respect to teacher agency and reconguration,
discussing reasons why government school teachers in our study may show material agency in
reconguring their work practices around a technology intervention when previous literature
does not [
]. (3) We then relate our ndings to current theories of teacher knowledge,
highlighting the kinds of knowledge production that teachers in our research context tend to
focus on (e.g., content knowledge). Finally, (4) we oer design opportunities for teacher-oriented
technology interventions, including the suitability of smartphones as a vehicle for delivering teacher
professional development programs, the need for interventions to support teachers’ own content
creation strategies, and how these interventions might simplify government schools’ bureaucratic
processes while reducing the administrative burden on teachers.
Related literature on teacher professionalization.
A large body of prior work has examined
teacher professionalization in Western settings. Early teacher professional development studies
focused on positive cognitive traits (e.g., improving teachers’ knowledge [
] or instructional
practices [25,44]). Subsequent studies sought to understand the underlying causes that led to the
development of these positive traits, such as teachers’ identity [
], attitudes [
], and beliefs [
The assumption behind these studies was that the professional development teachers’ received
impacted their attitudes and beliefs, which in turn impacted their cognitive traits, which then led
to improved classroom performance and student outcomes [24].
A complementary line of research points out that understanding teacher professionalization
also requires studying the socio-cultural complexity of the ecosystems in which teachers teach
]. This approach heavily inuenced understanding of technology adoption in teachers’
professional development [
] because, to understand the contribution of technology in teacher
professionalization, it is important to understand how such technologies become part of teachers’
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Teachers reconfiguration work practices 220:3
every day lived experiences, and how broader school environments aect teachers’ technology
use [
]. Embracing these complexities, CSCL researchers (e.g., [
]) have studied online
communities of practice and knowledge communities that encourage teachers to interact with their
local context and generate constructive knowledge, which aids professional development [
Prior studies on teacher professional development in the Global South have pointed out the
socio-cultural complexities and resource constraints present in these contexts [
], with a cluster
of studies suggesting that many teacher-training programs in the Global South do not adequately
prepare new teachers for the challenges they will face in classrooms [
]. Consequently, a
number of technology-based teacher professionalization eorts have focused on supporting and
building teacher capacities in the eld, in partnership with governments [
] and global
organizations (like UNESCO) [
]. For example, the DEEP project aimed to understand the
impact of ICTs in teacher development eorts in sub-Saharan and North Africa [
]. The project’s
objective was to understand longitudinal change in thinking and practices as teachers adopted
ICTs, such as mobile phones, in professional development programs in low-resource settings [
Our research builds on this literature by contributing a qualitative empirical study that examines
how teachers in Indian government schools recongure their everyday work practices around a
teacher-focused technology intervention that aims to build their pedagogical knowledge. We now
situate our work within theoretical frameworks explaining teacher knowledge development.
Relevant theoretical frameworks explaining teacher knowledge.
In the past, teacher capac-
ity was measured on the basis of two factors: general pedagogical knowledge and understanding of
the content [
]. This notion was challenged by Shulman [
], who argued that teacher capacity
cannot be explained and measured in such binary terms, and who expanded the framework to
include what he called Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) [
]. According to Shulman, Peda-
gogical Content Knowledge includes useful forms of representations that teachers create to make
subject content more comprehensible to students [
]. Such representations are carefully crafted
keeping in mind the topics that are dicult for students, or those that create misconceptions. Ball
] expanded Shulman’s framework by introducing more nuanced categories of knowledge that
are required to build teachers’ capacity. For example, horizon content knowledge is an awareness of
how concepts are related to other concepts in the curriculum and grades in a particular subject.
Even with such nuanced categorization within the theoretical framework, the introduction
of technology brought new challenges for teaching in the classroom. Unlike other elements of
teaching, technology keeps being updated on a regular basis, demanding a dierent treatment
from the teachers to build their capacities in this regard [
]. Koehler et al. introduced technology
into Shulman’s PCK framework, creating the TPACK framework [
]. Central to this framework
is the need for teachers to develop technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK), and technological
content knowledge (TCK). For instance, TPK is the process of combining technological knowledge
(TK), such as general usage of a word processing application, with pedagogical knowledge (PK),
such as the concept of critical thinking. TPK brings those elements together – for example, using
Google docs to hold a critical thinking discussion about a particular topic. The TPACK framework
considers the amorphous nature of technology and encourages teachers to adopt technology to
improve their content and pedagogical capacities while avoiding technocentric approaches. [89].
Nevertheless, many technology interventions in HCI have taken technocentric approaches.
Famous interventions, such as hole in the wall [
], OLPC [
], Los Angeles Unied School
District (LAUSD) [
], and the FATIH program [
] are some of the programs that have not
provided teachers with a central role (completely or partially) in the deployment of their technology
interventions. With the failure of many technology-deterministic initiatives, a major criticism of HCI
studies has been how these initiatives view teachers as passive actors and disregard their teaching
Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., Vol. 3, No. CSCW, Article 220. Publication date: November 2019.
Rama Adithya Varanasi, Rene F. Kizilcec,
Nicola Dell
practices when designing interventions. Considering these challenges, there is a need to shift from
technocentric approaches towards creating technology-enhanced education environments that
place teachers at the center of the intervention, and provide strong support and capacity building
for teachers, leading to more meaningful integration of technology in classrooms [40].
Related literature on teacher agency.
Recognition and understanding of agency as a critical
component of teachers’ work processes occurred in the latter part of 20th century, when research
around teacher thinking materialized as an important line of study [
]. Teacher agency is dened
via three important teacher characteristics [
]. First, their capacity to aect change on various
stakeholders in the school ecosystem, including its ecology [
]. Second, the existence of teachers’
awareness that they brought about such change, including change in others’ learning. Third,
teachers’ awareness of their own inuence and power to handle institutional and community-based
challenges. It is therefore possible to look at the teacher agency from a few dierent perspectives.
Studies have also looked at the process of constructing self-ecacy, dened as teachers’ conviction
to aect contextual pedagogical tasks, such as providing support to students and management of
classroom, at a certain quality in the classroom environments [
]. Another way that studies have
shaped the meaning of agency is from the perspective of teachers’ autonomy to act in classroom
and school settings [
]. It is important to note that autonomy in the context of teachers is not
just expression of individual self, independent of external factors (e.g., authority, community, and
peers). Instead, it is a delicate balance between individual freedom and external constraints [18].
One way that teacher agency has been previously explored in teacher development literature
is through understanding narratives of teachers’ lives in the context of their experiences around
personal, social, and professional aspects of life across time, place, and relationships [
Work on teacher agency has also been explored in the eld of teacher research to understand how it
not only impacts various teacher work activities, such as preparation [
], teaching [
], and
community interaction [
], but also with respect to technology, such as technology usage in
classrooms [
] or involving teachers in technology design and integration [
]. Teacher agency
in this sense, relates to a characteristic that is always developing in relation to the technology and
the ecosystem rather than being a xed capability [
]. There is also a considerable amount
of research that has explored teacher agency in developing countries [
]. Our study
expands this literature with an empirical study in Indian schools that examines teachers’ agency,
via recongurations, with the introduction of teacher-focused technology interventions. In doing
so, we show how teachers are active agents in these socio-technical contexts [17].
The goal of our work is to study how teachers in low-income government schools in India recon-
gure their work practices to accommodate the introduction of a technology intervention that
specically targets teachers, rather than students. We ground our analysis in the context of one
specic teacher-focused intervention: Meghshala [
]. We provide some background on Meghshala
before describing a four-month qualitative study with teachers in government schools in 2018.
3.1 Meghshala: Case Study of an Educational Technology Intervention
Meghshala is a non-prot educational support organization based in Bangalore, India. Meghshala’s
main objective is to provide teachers with opportunities to improve their teaching capacity by
building their pedagogical knowledge. In partnership with Karnataka state government, Meghshala
currently supports teachers in over 130 schools and, at the time of writing, has initiated collabora-
tions with three more Indian states by expanding their contextualized app content. We engaged with
Meghshala in a research collaboration in which we studied their intervention closely, in both urban
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Teachers reconfiguration work practices 220:5
Fig. 1. (A) Screenshot of Meghshala’s app showing available TeachKits; (B) Example of a Meghshala content
page; (C) Example of a Meghshala preparation page.
and rural government schools in India. Before beginning our research in schools, we spent several
weeks in Meghshala’s headquarters in Bangalore, talking with their team members, observing their
work, and attending meetings, with the goal of understanding their content development process,
deployment strategies, and high-level vision.
To achieve their objective, Meghshala provides an app-based intervention that is delivered to
teachers via an Android device (see Fig. 1). In some cases, Meghshala provides the hardware (tablet,
pico projector, portable wi router) needed to deploy its intervention, usually two to six Android
tablets per school. Schools are not expected to return the hardware after usage or if they discontinue
the intervention. In other schools, Meghshala does not provide any hardware and teachers are
instead expected to use Meghshala’s app on their personal devices. The app is also available on the
Android PlayStore, so anyone can download and install the app on their device.
To use terminology coined by Collins & Moonen [
], Meghshala’s app can be considered a core
technology in the sense that the tool is the principal way in which Meghshala provides support
and learning for teachers in classroom environments by assisting teachers with the preparation
and delivery of classroom lessons. The content that the app provides consists of modules that have
been developed by Meghshala’s team and that are carefully contextualized to the curriculum and
pedagogical philosophy of the state government’s educational board while also incorporating new
ideas and practices to build the teacher’s capacity. To achieve this, Meghshala incorporates the 5E’s
inquiry-based model (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate) on which the state government
curriculum is based. Each chapter in the state-prescribed textbook is mapped to multiple Meghshala
modules, called TeachKits in the app (see Fig. 1A). Each TeachKit consists of two types of pages
(similar to PowerPoint slides): content pages that teachers can show to students in the classroom,
and preparation pages that guide the teacher to deliver the lesson eectively (see Fig. 1B and 1C).
The idea is for the teacher to prepare for class using the preparation pages and teach the content
using the content pages. At the end of each TeachKit, teachers have an option to provide feedback
on the content around several criteria using star-rating system.
Finally, in addition to the app, teachers also receive on-the-ground support from Meghshala’s
personnel, who visit schools regularly to help with technological, content, or pedagogical queries.
We chose Meghshala as the focus for our study because its teacher-oriented technology intervention
combined with its in-person, on-the-ground support made it an ideal case study for our research.
Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., Vol. 3, No. CSCW, Article 220. Publication date: November 2019.
Rama Adithya Varanasi, Rene F. Kizilcec,
Nicola Dell
3.2 Field study with teachers in low-income schools
After spending several weeks in Meghshala’s oces learning about their intervention, we conducted
eldwork with teachers in 12 low-income, non-English medium government schools, in both rural
and semi-urban contexts. These schools began using Meghshala’s intervention in mid-2016.
Recruitment and Participants.
We recruited a total of 39 school faculty (33 teachers, 6 principals)
for our study. Schools were chosen in partnership with Meghshala and based on a number of criteria.
Specically, we wanted schools in both rural and semi-urban areas who had been using Meghshala
for at least 1.5 years. We also wanted a mix of schools who received dierent intervention variations
(e.g., both with and without hardware provided), received varying levels of in-person support,
and with varying levels of adoption of the intervention. Based on these criteria, we worked with
Meghshala to reach out to candidate schools, seeking their permission to conduct research.
After receiving formal permission from the schools, we recruited participants via word-of-mouth
and school WhatsApp groups. Participants’ demographic characteristics are provided in Table 1.
All participants spoke the local language (Kannada) and several also spoke Hindi (one of the ocial
languages of India). Teachers were also able to understand conversations in English.
Qualitative Methods.
In total, we conducted 32 semi-structured interviews, 12 focus groups, and
observed 22 teachers as they went about their work. Since we were introduced to participants by
Meghshala, we took care to explain that we were not aliated with the organization, but were
independent university researchers. Nevertheless, participants may have perceived us as being
associated with Meghshala, leading to possible bias that we discuss in Section 6. Interviews lasted
between 30 minutes and two hours. In six interviews, other curious teachers voluntarily joined
the interview discussion, leading to spontaneous focus group sessions. When this happened, we
counted these interviews as a focus group. Our questions sought an understanding of teachers’
work practices, with and without Meghshala, as well as experience with technology interventions
more broadly. We situated our questions in our participants’ daily work practices as a teacher,
both inside and outside the classroom. Interviews were audio-recorded and conducted in Hindi or
Kannada, depending on the participant’s preference. In addition to the interviews, we also observed
teachers as they went about their daily work, including their preparation process, teaching in the
classroom, administrative work and conversations in sta room, and so on. Observations typically
lasted 15-45 minutes, during which we took detailed notes and photographs (with permission).
Data Collection and Analysis.
We collected 86 hours of observation data via detailed notes and
photographs and 43 hours of audio-recorded interview and focus group data. The recordings were
translated into English when necessary and transcribed. We analyzed the transcripts thematically
] using Atlas.ti software, starting with a close reading of the data in which we allowed themes
to emerge. Multiple passes over the data resulted in a codebook that consisted of 61 codes (e.g.,
trusting students with tech, juggle between apps/blackboard/textbook, cherry picking content).
These codes were then clustered into themes (e.g., bureaucratic processes, social support structures,
and searching for content) that represent our main ndings discussed below.
In addition to our qualitative data, we also obtained all of Meghshala’s app usage logs for the
year 2017-18. The data consisted of 9 million unique instances of teachers’ Meghshala usage. An
instance is recorded when a teacher uses a TeachKit for more than ve seconds. The app records the
time spent using the TeachKit, along with the page number, type of page (preparation vs. content),
and TeachKit details (name, grade). This dataset was cleaned before being analyzed using R.
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Teachers reconfiguration work practices 220:7
Participants Teachers: 33; Principals: 6 Gender Female: 25; Male: 14
Age (years) Min: 25-30; Max: 45-50; Avg: 35-40 Locality Semi-urban: 22; Rural: 17
Experience (years) Min: 2; Max: 30; Avg: 12.7; St.D: 6.6 No. of subjects taught Min: 1; Max: 3; Avg: 2
Table 1. Teachers’ Demographic Details.
Our ndings show how teachers in government schools in India work to recongure and renegotiate
multiple aspects of their work to accommodate the introduction of a teacher-focused technology
intervention: Meghshala. We structure our discussion of these recongurations around dierent
phases of teachers’ work lives: preparation and lesson planning, classroom teaching and activities,
bureaucratic or administrative processes, and other socio-technical support structures.
4.1 Reconfiguration of teaching preparation practices
Outside of classroom settings, a major work activity that teachers engage in is preparation and
planning for classes. Our participants explained how their preparation processes primarily involve
two activities: (a) preparation of teaching learning materials (TLMs) that can assist them in teaching
their classes, and (b) preparation of formal lesson plans that they submit for approval to the school’s
leadership. We now discuss these in turn.
Reconguring Teaching Learning Materials (TLMs).
TLMs are used as aids for teaching in the
classroom. Common TLMs include preparing chart materials for conceptual explanations, building
3D models using scrap materials, kits for science experiments, videos to help students understand a
concept, in-class activity materials, and more (see Fig. 2A). Participants (n=32) described to us how,
since the introduction of Meghshala, they are able to include content from Meghshala as TLMs in
their classes. They believed that this reduces the amount of time needed to prepare lessons, since
they no longer need to create TLMs from scratch or search online to nd content that is culturally
appropriate, in the relevant language, and suitable for the grade and subject they teach.
Building on this belief of being able to save time, teachers described how they used this extra
time to try and nd other resources that are more culturally and contextually appropriate for
their students. Including such content makes it easier for teachers to discuss potentially advanced
concepts in ways that are easier for students to understand. These ndings tie into previous studies
that examine teachers’ ability to materialize newly formed beliefs as an essential component of
their development. Such studies have emphasized the critical role of teachers’ beliefs in dening
teaching tasks in the classroom [
]. By showing how teachers translate their new beliefs into
recongurations of their work practices, we build on studies that emphasize how real-time teaching
practices change in classroom contexts, instead of beliefs [5,39].
In some cases, Meghshala’s platform provides content that has been highly contextualized to
the Indian context (see Fig. 1). However, teachers felt that their ideas for content to include were
often more appropriate than the content provided by the platform. For example, P10 discussed how
he included a YouTube video as a TLM because of its stronger cultural and contextual t with his
students compared to Meghshala’s resource. He said,
“I had to recently teach a topic in Social Science around the great king - ‘Chitradurgada’.
Even though Meghshala has relevant content on, I felt it was not enough for students to
understand the topic clearly. I searched on YouTube to nd a video song, acted by a famous
movie actor Vishnuvardhan. This video song covers everything about the king and his
Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., Vol. 3, No. CSCW, Article 220. Publication date: November 2019.
Rama Adithya Varanasi, Rene F. Kizilcec,
Nicola Dell
history. Children can immediately relate to it video like these .. . Meghshala does not have
similar video.” - Teacher 10
In a similar vein, our participants discussed how they often included content relevant for the
subject and grade they are teaching that they received via teacher WhatsApp groups. Several
participants preferred this channel for receiving content since the content is often already tailored
to their specic teaching needs and syllabus. For instance, P02 (an English teacher) compared her
experiences receiving information via WhatsApp with a general online search experience. She
discussed how she was looking for denitions for new vocabulary, but when she tried to search on
Google, the results she got were highly generalized. However, when she reached out on her teacher
WhatsApp group, she received the exact list she was looking for already curated by a teacher
from another school. This nding builds on literature discussing communities of learners [
by showing how WhatsApp groups have motivated teachers, who may be otherwise isolated, to
establish networks that build a community of learners, as well as develop school knowledge with
their colleagues by obtaining resources and orchestrating administrative tasks [59].
Another key nding that participants discussed was how the content provided by Meghshala
sometimes gave them new explanations for specic concepts that they were previously unaware
of. Using Meghshala’s content as TLMs enabled these participants to think about dierent ways
of teaching the textbook content. For instance, P30 remembered her excitement when seeing the
Meghshala resource that explained how to extract honey from bees, which included a video from a
local neighborhood. She recalled her decision to use it in class after she realized that she was not
aware of certain steps in the extraction process and felt that it would be a really valuable video to
include while teaching. Similarly, P37, explains her experience teaching the concept of triangles,
“In the Triangles topic, earlier we used to teach the basics...what’s present in the book. For
example, what is triangle, it’s properties, etc. However, in Meghshala, there are various
examples of how Triangles are used in the construction of bridges and shape of triangles is
really eective in doing this. We ourselves [referring to his colleagues in the room] never
knew that triangles could be applied to these kinds of practical applications. I showed this
to students and I could tell that the students found it very useful to understand triangles
better” - Teacher 37
Prior work in Bangladesh [
] and Africa [
] have also found teachers making connections
between ICT-based content and gaps in their content knowledge. We extend this literature by also
showing the importance of the contextual relevance of content provided by the application [5].
The ways in which teachers use Meghshala content as TLMs for their classes contrasts with the
ways the organization intended their platform to be used. Recall from Section 3.1 that Meghshala’s
TeachKit includes content pages, with contextualized materials for concepts in the curriculum, and
preparation pages, that are intended to provide ideas for how teachers can teach these concepts in
their classes (see Fig. 1). Our analysis of Meghshala’s usage data showed that teachers spent only
11% of their overall Meghshala usage time on the preparation pages.
Reconguring lesson plans.
In addition to preparing TLMs for their own use, teachers also have
to go through the bureaucratic process of formally creating and submitting lesson plans for approval
by the principal. The structure of these lesson plans is set by the respective state government. In
our study, all teachers used consistent government-mandated structures for their lesson plans that
is based on the 5E’s inquiry-based model [
] (see Fig. 2B for an example of one such lesson plan
for a Math class on the topic of integers).
However, participants (n=21) reported that when organizations introduce new initiatives, the
teachers are given opportunities to modify their lesson plan structure in ways that might conform to
the objectives of the organizations. For example, Meghshala’s objective is to help teachers improve
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Teachers reconfiguration work practices 220:9
Fig. 2. (A) Traditional TLMS for English vocabulary; (B) Example of a teacher’s lesson plan; (C) Combining
Meghshala with textbook-based teaching while encouraging student-centered technology exploration; (D)
Example of a student’s Meghshala workbook.
their teaching by using Meghshala’s app as a primary preparation and teaching tool. As a result,
teachers are given opportunities to include Meghshala-based resources in their lesson preparation
and teaching. It is mandatory for teachers’ formal lesson plans to include a list of specic TLMs
they plan to use before they can get approval. To include Meghshala content in a lesson plan as
a TLM, our participants discussed how they would write down the specic TeachKit and discuss
with the principal the specic slides they intended to use. As P22 said,
“Whenever a teacher brings their lesson plan for an approval signature to me, they will
inform me and mention that, “I want to use particular pages of Meghshala” or “ I want to
do these Meghshala activities.” .. . In the lesson plan, they mention correspondingly what
part of Meghshala they used.” - Teacher 22 (Principal)
4.2 Reconfiguration of classroom teaching practices
Having explored how teachers recongured their preparation and lesson planning activities, we now
examine how teachers’ shifted their in-classroom work practices to accommodate the intervention.
Teachers in government schools in India are typically required to cover vast amounts of syllabus
over relatively short periods of time. For example, several participants discussed how they are
required to complete an entire textbook in one semester, with students taking exams on that syllabus
at the end of the semester. Thus, teachers told us that completing the syllabus is their primary
objective. Meghshala’s intention is for their TeachKits to replace textbook-based teaching. Instead
of teaching from the textbooks, the TeachKits provide lessons that Meghshala wants the teachers
to use end-to-end rather than using the corresponding textbook chapters. However, our ndings
show that teachers neither follow a strictly traditional approach (utilizing only the textbook) nor
do they follow the new approach intended by Meghshala (using only the TeachKits). Instead, for a
variety of reasons that we discuss, they create new, hybrid approaches to teaching that mix and
match content and strategies from all of the mediums that are available to them.
Reconguring content delivery.
Several teachers discussed how they strive to achieve a balance
between incorporating more engaging Meghshala content and timely completion of the syllabus
for traditional exams. As one teacher described,
“We select what is important whether we are conducting normal [textbook-based] class
or through Meghshala. If we don’t have much time, we only teach normal class, even
if Meghshala is eective. If there is time and opportunity in revision, we cover specic
elements from Meghshala. If we cover lessons from Meghshala, then there is a risk of
Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., Vol. 3, No. CSCW, Article 220. Publication date: November 2019.
Rama Adithya Varanasi, Rene F. Kizilcec,
Nicola Dell
falling short of syllabus completion. For example, if I don’t nish all the classes before
4pm, I can’t let them play games or sing in lower class.” - Teacher 04
This quote is a good example of the kinds of critical reections on Meghshala voiced by teachers in
our study. Teachers’ desire for shorter, more focused Meghshala content that can quickly and easily
augment the textbook-based syllabus is corroborated by our analysis of Meghshala’s usage data.
When we analyze the frequency that Meghshala’s TeachKits are used end-to-end (i.e., the number
of times each TeachKit was opened and used end to end), we see that usage decreases as TeachKit
length increases (see Fig. 3C). On several occasions, teachers (n=8) mentioned instances where they
deliberately ignored good content available in Meghshala simply because they did not have the time
to use it in class due to the need to complete the syllabus. Other participants (n=12) also described
how they ignored content in Meghshala if it digressed too far from the textbook. These ndings
connect to Christin’s study [
] on reconguration, which discusses instances of open critique
(similar to the previous quote from teacher 04) by legal professionals and journalists adopting
new technologies. Similar to how teachers resist using Meghshala since it prevents them from
completing the syllabus, journalists in Christin’s study resisted the use of new analytic software
because they felt excessive focus on click metrics might push them to compromise on article
quality. Our work then goes further by showing how teachers’ critical opinions resulted in new
workarounds as teachers try to balance Meghshala content with textbook content.
One reason to include Meghshala content in their teaching was to overcome a lack of classroom
resources. Most of the schools we worked in did not have much more than a small collection of
books that constituted a makeshift library. Using content provided by Meghshala provided teachers
with easier ways to explain complex concepts from the textbook. We observed how teachers would
frequently project Meghshala content (e.g., animated simulations of a science experiment) on a
wall of the classroom while explaining the concept to students. For analytical subjects like Math,
teachers often preferred to combine content projection of Meghshala with the blackboard. We
observed instances where teachers projected Meghshala content on one portion of blackboard to
either interact with the digital content by drawing over the projected area or to augment the digital
content by writing on a dierent portion of the blackboard. As P25 explained,
“In Maths, we frequently project Meghshala concepts on that side [of the blackboard].
[On this] side we use the black-board to solve [problems] and show the steps. Otherwise,
children cannot pick up the concepts quickly.” - Teacher 25
Beyond projecting content, teachers also recongured their in-class activities based on Meghshala.
In some cases, teachers learned an activity from Meghshala and then recreated it for students in
their classroom to help explain more abstract concepts. P04 explains one such instance,
“There was one activity in the Earth chapter of Meghshala .. . that showed how the big
bang occurred. In that activity, a balloon is blown up and something is put inside. By
bursting the balloon, I showed how the big bang happens like that .. . It was wonderful.
Students understood well.” - Teacher 04
Several participants went even further to integrate new strategies they learned through Meghshala
with their traditional teaching processes. In subjects like science and social studies, we observed
how teachers combined traditional textbook activities with Meghshala content. For example, two
participants (P01, P06) brought dierent types of owers to the classroom to demonstrate the parts
of a ower and their reproduction processes, which they combined with Meghshala’s content on
the same topic. The teachers then spent time discussing the connection between the live example in
hand (textbook activity) and the content provided on the device (Meghshala activity). These mindful
recongurations, where teachers chose to use only specic technology features appropriate for
the task at hand, are evidence of technology-in-practice, an important aspect of digital materiality
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Teachers reconfiguration work practices 220:11
as dened by Orlikowski [
]. Such examples of recongurations in the context of digital
materiality have been explored in other domains, such as digital infrastructures [36,37].
Reconguring student group work and individual exploration.
Beyond teacher-led content
delivery and activities, we also found that teachers worked to incorporate technology into students’
group work in the classroom. Recall that Meghshala often provides several (two to six) tablets to
schools they partner with. We observed how teachers would arrange to use any of the devices
that were available. Then, they divided the students into groups and gave each group a tablet
(see Fig. 2C) that displayed the relevant content or activity, while they also used one device to
project content for the room. The teachers said that facilitating hands-on student interactions
with the tablets was an easy way to ensure students’ “undivided attention.In several cases, we
even observed teachers passing their own personal smartphones to groups of students while they
continued teaching the concept (see Fig. 3A). In addition to group work providing students with
opportunities for independent exploration, teachers also described how they helped some students
who wanted to be able to explore more on their own. As one teacher described,
“Earlier, when we showed videos on YouTube, students used to go home, search, and watch
the videos to learn from that. Now that we shifted to Meghshala, they keep asking us how
to download the app so that they can explore themselves.” - Teacher 37
Teachers said they often dedicated some of their personal time to teaching their students how to
download and install the app on their parents’ phone at home.
We also discovered that many teachers (n=12) have created new roles and responsibilities
for students to help maintain and care for the hardware (tablet/smartphone, projector, dongle).
Specically, teachers assigned certain students to be ‘Meghshala leaders’, whose responsibilities
included assembling hardware for class, ensuring devices were charged, making sure that the
hardware is packed up and kept in its assigned location, etc. These roles rotated on regular basis
among all students. In addition to teaching students about leadership and responsibility, the teachers
described how these practices saved considerable time when they used Meghshala in class.
4.3 Reconfiguration of bureaucratic work processes
In addition to recongurations in teaching practices (inside and outside the classroom), our ndings
also reveal new bureaucratic processes set up by the school’s management as a result of the
technology intervention. One such bureaucratic process is a requirement that teachers be able to
prove they use the intervention, and failing to do so could get them into trouble. A participant said,
“Before this, on one occasion [a government ocial] came and checked. We could have
showed all the records. But there were no Meghshala records. He came and asked "Did you
do Meghshala class?" The teachers replied that they did take the class. He asked them to
show the record but there was none. He wrote a report indicating that they were not using
Meghshala.” - Meghshala Personnel
To meet this requirement of proving engagement with Meghshala, our participants said that they
now maintained paper-based documentation, such as written logs of Meghshala activity, so that
they could show the school’s management or visiting government ocials that they were using the
technology. For example, several teachers created a new feedback register (see Fig. 3B) to record
their students’ feedback that, beyond proving their detailed and consistent use of Meghshala, could
also be used to provide feedback to Meghshala’s on-the-ground support personnel. Such feedback
is the teachers’ way of supplementing the basic star-rating feedback system provided by the app.
As another example, several teachers have their students maintain a Meghshala workbook that is
only used for Meghshala related activities (see Fig. 2D). These workbooks provide a paper trail that
Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., Vol. 3, No. CSCW, Article 220. Publication date: November 2019.
Rama Adithya Varanasi, Rene F. Kizilcec,
Nicola Dell
Fig. 3. (A) Teacher showing Meghshala content to students; (B) Example of a Meghshala feedback register;
(C) End-to-end usage of Meghshala TeachKits of dierent lengths (usage decreases as length increases).
proves teachers’ regular usage of Meghshala to higher ocials. These ndings are an example of
what Espenland & Sauder [
] call gaming—manipulating the rules in ways that are unconnected
to their original purpose. Christin [
] also explores this phenomenon in her work, describing how
journalists use clickbait strategies to distort and boost article popularity, while legal professionals
intentionally redirect cases to circumnavigate problematic ones. In ICTD contexts, Radjou et al.
] use the term jugaad to refer to “ingenious ways to game the system”, providing an example of
how millions of Indians use missed calls to communicate while avoiding text message charges.
In addition to proving Meghshala usage to higher management, the Meghshala notebook also
served to prove to students’ parents, who are mostly from low-income communities, that their
children were learning and using technology. A number of teachers described how their schools
were seen by the community as being old-fashioned, with teachers relying on old techniques (i.e.,
textbooks). Participants felt that this perception was especially true in schools, like theirs, that
were non-English medium schools, since many parents wanted their children to learn English.
As Meghshala contains English content and helps the teachers to teach English, proving that the
students were using Meghshala helped to combat negative perceptions. One teacher said,
“Meghshala’s app is very useful for English. Because our school is a Kannada (non-English)
medium government school, we have to teach English a lot better. All parents want their
children to learn English and insist that we teach English .. . That is why I depend more on
Meghshala as it is really useful for teaching English.” - Teacher 11
Our participants also described how they often did not play a large role in determining which
technology interventions would be deployed in their schools or how they would be introduced. For
instance, Meghshala personnel described how they formed partnerships at the block level (a block
comprises multiple clusters of schools) or higher. Thus, technology is often introduced via top-down
approaches instead of involving teachers in the planning stages to encourage adoption. Moreover,
most of our participants said that they had been a part of at least three prior technology-oriented
support interventions in the last ve years. As one participant said,
“We were using another intervention program before Meghshala. After Meghshala came,
we have forgotten how to use that intervention because now we use Meghshala. Sometimes,
we feel as if we are in a queue. If some support organization discontinues its support,
another organization comes in its place. There is always a next organization in the queue.
Naturally, we are not nding time to show the old software now. We are now depending
on Meghshala.” - Teacher 12, Principal.
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Teachers reconfiguration work practices 220:13
4.4 Reconfiguration of Socio-Technical Support Structures
As mentioned previously, part of Meghshala’s intervention involves sending on-the-ground support
sta to the schools they partner with to assist teachers with any challenges they encounter when
using Meghshala, including hardware set-up, general troubleshooting, or pedagogical and content
challenges. Our analysis shows how these interactions are negotiated in several ways.
First, we discovered that teachers’ interactions with Meghshala’s support people often led to
teachers learning and using new technologies that are beyond Meghshala’s intervention. For
example, several teachers (n=12) mentioned how they used their newly developed understanding
of castable apps (learned from Meghshala’s support people) to browse other castable apps on the
PlayStore that are related to their subjects. In particular, P25 mentioned how she found a castable
app to show 3D model of human anatomy to explain topics like internal organs or the digestive
system. P25 discussed at length how dicult it is to nd topics that have a casting option. She said,
“Through Meghshala’s support person, we came to know about this new tool called Meracast
(a low-cost casting device) and how to cast using it. Then we tried to nd various apps
on dierent curriculum topics like digestion, solar system, human body, etc. If we are in
the digestive system lesson, we download an appropriate castable app and we can directly
show it on the screen. We can’t do that for all of them. For example, there is an app called
solar system that is not supported [by these devices]. We have to test which ones are
supported”- Teacher 25
As another example, several teachers discussed how they had learned to use a tool called ShareIt
(a mobile app that transfers les by creating a local WiFi network, without the need for Internet) to
transfer content to the castable tablet from their personal smartphones. Further, P04 mentioned
how she had learned the process of taking screenshots on her smartphone from the Meghshala
support person and then used the technique later to provide screenshots of a Meghshala lesson to
a peer when the Meghshala TeachKit was not working on her peer’s phone.
Beyond learning and using new technologies, we discovered how teachers strive to be active
contributors in the creation and improvement of Meghshala’s content. For example, our participants
often spent signicant amounts of time in meetings with Meghshala support people to provide
critical feedback and ideas for how to better t Meghshala content to the teachers’ needs. For
instance, P35 showed us how he sent specic suggestions with examples about types of local videos
that could be added to Meghshala to help teachers in his community prepare graphs in maths. P35
sent his suggestions to the Meghshala support person over WhatsApp. Another teacher described,
“One suggestion that we gave was to add a section for dierent small budget ideas for
the teaching learning materials for the lesson that we can use. If there can be a section
on how the teaching aid should be made it will be really helpful. For example, there is a
lighthouse chapter, we have made a lighthouse model with children, we have made it with
a small battery.” - Teacher 19
Similarly, the feedback register mentioned above that some teachers maintained contained the
TeachKit taught, date and time, and detailed feedback on the content, along with any mistakes in
the TeachKit. These comments included suggestions for how the content could be improved to
t the teachers’ contexts better. A few teachers used WhatsApp groups to report feedback, often
providing a screenshot of the content that needs improvement. Even though Meghshala has a
feedback (star rating) system at the end of each TeachKit, the teachers in our study developed
their own techniques for providing more in-depth feedback as they strove to conceptualize how
their feedback might be translated to actionable items. Similar teacher inclinations towards sharing
ideas and knowledge have been well studied in communities of practice [
], professional learning
communities [27,93], and within broader communities where teachers live and work [59].
Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., Vol. 3, No. CSCW, Article 220. Publication date: November 2019.
Rama Adithya Varanasi, Rene F. Kizilcec,
Nicola Dell
Finally, since Meghshala’s support people travel to many schools, they share stories of challenges
and issues at one school with others. Thus, the support people act as information pollinators, sharing
solutions with other teachers facing similar challenges. For example, one Meghshala support person
mentioned how she saw one teacher use a digital app to make phonics cards to help students with
pronunciation. She found the card-making process useful and related to teachers’ struggles in other
schools. Thus, she shared this idea with teachers at other schools when she visited them to provide
support. By acting as pollinators, Meghshala support people help to create loose and informal
teacher networks [
] that support indirect interactions between teachers [
]. However, unlike
the strong teacher network characteristics depicted by Rincon [
], which include establishing
new connections with other teachers, building trust and accountability via such newly formed
connections, and improving one’s teaching practices through collaborative inquiry, Meghshala-
formed networks rely explicitly on the participation of the support people.
Our ndings show how teachers in Indian government schools recongure their work practices
in innovative ways to accommodate a new technology intervention that targets teachers as its
primary users. We now discuss these ndings in the context of prior work on teacher agency
and reconguration. We then relate our ndings to theoretical frameworks of teacher knowledge.
Finally, we oer design opportunities for teacher-focused technology interventions.
5.1 Agency, reconfiguration, and teaching in HCI4D
Putting agency into context.
We use the concept of material agency as developed in Science and
Technology Studies by Haraway [
], Pickering [
], and Suchman [
] to analyze our ndings
with respect to teacher agency and reconguration. A central argument underlying these prior
studies is that agency as an attribute does not reside in either the humans or the non-human entities.
Instead, agency is an outcome, achieved as a result of specic congurations between humans and
technologies. Pickering [74] built this arugment by situating material agency as being temporally
emergent in users’ practices rather than a xed trait in either users or tools.
In our study, material agency emerged when teachers during the preparation processes realized
that they could save time by using Meghshala as a TLM instead of spending large unnecessarily
large chunks of time and resources in preparing traditional TLMs. Teachers acted agentically by
reconguring their work practices to save time and instead leverage it in ways that improved their
classroom teaching experiences (i.e., nding more contextualized content to make their explanations
easier). Such material agency (i.e. saving time during preparation) did not exist in teachers’ (human
entity) prior practices and was also not a direct objective of Meghshala’s (non-human entity) design.
In organizational studies, a similar argument is made around material agency by dierentiating
technological artifact from the user’s technology-in-practice [
]. Although Meghshala’s app
has many usable features (technological artifact), the specic practice of substituting it in the place
of traditional TLMs (technology-in-practice) to save their valuable time represents material agency.
We further deepen the relevance of material agency in our work by connecting it with the
relevant literature on teacher professional development. In our study, we nd that material agency
for teachers cannot exist in isolation. Rather, there is a bi-directional association between material
agency and the ecological context in which agency is enacted [
]. For instance, we saw how top-
down school requirements pushed teachers to shape their material agency by reconguring their
work practices so that they were able to adopt Meghshala in their former teachers teaching practices.
On the other hand, opportunity utilized by teachers to customize their lesson plans requires
higher management to re-consider the criteria for what they consider as an acceptable lesson plan.
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Teachers reconfiguration work practices 220:15
Therefore, when teachers submit their diverse lesson plans, principals needs to constantly mould
their idea of a good lesson plan.
We also see how teachers’ recongurations extend prior work on epistemological autonomy
] in the direction of material agency. Maclellan [
] describes epistemological autonomy as
teachers’ capability to foresee and make informed decisions based on situations that challenge
their overall teaching processes. In our study, we saw how teachers estimated challenges in their
students’ understanding of the default textbook material and therefore sought more culturally
and contextually relevant content for their classes using Meghshala, YouTube, and WhatsApp
(through their peers). Such content allowed teachers to improve the conceptual understanding of
their students. A similar level of autonomy is shown when teachers recognize and take advantage of
opportunities to modify and experiment with their lesson plans. Likewise, teachers show autonomy
in their decisions to create feedback registers and Meghshala workbooks (reconguration by
gaming) while foreseeing challenges around bureaucratic processes and satisfy them.
In addition, teachers used reconguration by open critique [
] to combine new technologies (e.g.,
Meghshala) with their knowledge of traditional teaching methods, mixing and matching content
from a variety of dierent mediums to improve learning opportunities for students. These strategies
provide insights into teachers’ self-ecacy in executing context-specic instructions [
]. Taken
together, the idea that teachers can consciously eect change (self-ecacy), combined with the
capability to make informed decision about the contexts that inuence their teaching (autonomy),
enabled teachers in our study to gravitate towards making decision that allowed them to be more
agentic in their work. We now discuss these agentic processes within broader HCI4D contexts.
Situating teachers’ material agency in HCI4D.
We are aware that our study paints teachers in
Indian government schools in a relatively positive light and want to acknowledge that not every
teacher in low-income government schools will demonstrate agency or be motivated to do new
and creative things with their lessons. Teachers in these contexts face a wide range of challenges,
including low pay, infrastructure challenges, frequent transfers, student absenteeism, etc. [
] and
many teachers justiably seek to minimize their workload. We believe that there are several reasons
why teachers in our study show material agency in reconguring their work practices around a
technology intervention when previous literature (e.g., [4,49,71]) does not.
The introduction of a relatively open-ended technology intervention (exible adoption), with
buy-in from school leadership, within an otherwise rigid top-down school system provides room
for teachers to experiment with dierent kinds of recongurations (discussed above) to make their
work easier and better. For example, teachers tried to nd a middle ground between tackling rigid
and top-down objectives (e.g. syllabus completion) and eective student-centered teaching. While
teachers deliberately skipped good content on Meghshala to complete their syllabus, they found
innovative ways to integrate technology content with traditional mediums (e.g. the blackboard).
Another reason that teachers demonstrate material agency in our study is because they are
motivated to improve how the local community perceives teachers. To achieve this, teachers used
structures that they created (e.g., Meghshala workbooks) to show students’ parents that their
children were learning and using technology. Similarly, teachers taught students how to install
educational apps used in class on their parents’ phones, which may also let parents know that the
teachers were incorporating technology into their classrooms.
These ndings contribute a better understanding of the agentic practices that teachers in HCI4D
settings employ while striving to balance the external constraints they face against their individual
freedom to act in such constrained situations [
]. Understanding this balance will enable HCI4D
practitioners and researchers to build teacher-focused interventions that do not ignore teachers’
primary objectives set by top-down structures (e.g. syllabus completion).
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Rama Adithya Varanasi, Rene F. Kizilcec,
Nicola Dell
5.2 Connecting to theoretical frameworks of teacher knowledge
We now discuss what our study reveals with respect to theoretical frameworks of teacher knowledge.
Findings in Section 4.1 show that teachers use Meghshala as a preparation tool to make their lesson
plans more exible and to recongure TLMs. However, usage data from Meghshala revealed that
teachers’ preparation time is unequally spent on content pages, with only 11% of time spent on
preparation pages. Moreover, teachers also explicitly discussed how they use Meghshala to improve
their content awareness in class. Based on this, we surmise that, as they recongure their work
practices, teachers gravitate towards developing their Content Knowledge (CK) more than their
Pedagogical Knowledge (PK). One reason for teachers’ preferences for developing CK may be the
push from higher management for them to focus on syllabus completion, or a lack of resources in
government schools to help them learn how to teach complex concepts and experiments.
In addition, teachers also showed a preference for developing their content knowledge even
outside of Meghshala, using tools such as WhatsApp and YouTube. For example, there were instances
where teachers frequently requested contextualized content for their classes from their peers via
WhatsApp. Ball et al. [
] categorized such behavior as development in knowledge of content and
students (KCS), combining knowledge of the content and knowledge of students’ needs in the class.
We found in our study that teachers have a good sense of understanding about their students’
knowledge levels. By reconguring their work practices to include contextualized content that
students can easily understand, teachers improved their KCS, which is an important component in
developing teachers’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge [7,91].
Moreover, in technology-rich ecosystems, in addition to Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) and Content
Knowledge (CK), Technology Knowledge (TK) is also necessary for teachers to develop their
understanding of more complex interactions in PCK [
]. Teachers in our study showed multiple
instances where they developed their TK to eectively deliver CK in their classes. For instance,
we showed how teachers developed their understanding of castable apps through Meghshala’s
on-the-ground support sta. In addition, teachers repurposed this newly developed TK to extend
and improve their teaching of various complex concepts via technology. This process of repurposing
their newly learned technology knowledge to improve content explanation (and not the other way
around) indicates development of teachers’ Technological Content Knowledge [14].
5.3 Design implications for teacher-focused technology interventions
Smartphones as a platform for teacher professional development programs.
Our ndings
suggest that Meghshala is a reasonably well-functioning technology intervention that has seen
good adoption within government schools in India, an achievement that is relatively rare in the
HCI4D literature. Our analysis points towards a number of ecological factors incorporated into
Meghshala’s intervention that could be emulated by designers or practitioners creating future
teacher-focused technology interventions. In addition to being based on easily-maintained mobile
phones that teachers are familiar with, the intervention provides contextualized content, a range of
implementation strategies (e.g. providing chargeable and portable projectors and tablets), in-person
support, engagement with state government, and buy-in from school leadership. These factors
all contribute to an environment that supports teacher professionalization, and we saw teachers
integrating student-centered teaching into their traditional teaching processes, developing new
orchestrations around the technology, and establishing teacher networks over WhatsApp to build
communities of learners. Such agentic practices, where the technology recedes into the background,
becoming a simple tool that extends teachers’ daily lived experiences [
], provide evidence that
smartphone-based tools, with mindful implementation, can be a useful vehicle for the delivery of
teacher professionalization programs in the Global South.
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Teachers reconfiguration work practices 220:17
As an example, one potentially fruitful path forward is to leverage widely-adopted social net-
working platforms as the basis for new teacher professionalization programs. Our ndings show
that teachers already use WhatsApp to communicate with other teachers and share content. In our
next study, we plan to leverage these already existing networks to provide teachers with directed
mentorship on dierent aspects of professionalization (e.g., self-reection, pedagogy, classroom
management). The asynchronous nature of WhatsApp interactions may make it feasible for teachers
to nd time to understand the concepts, contextualize them to their own classroom settings, reect,
and share their experiences. Combining such digital mentorship programs with periodic in-person
support might be one way to improve teacher professionalization in the Global South.
Support teachers’ content creation strategies.
Our analysis also suggests design opportunities
for content knowledge tools like Meghshala. We found that teachers often want to share and
contribute relevant content that they personally curated (via WhatsApp, online) or created, but
currently have no way to do so within Meghshala’s intervention. This suggests an opportunity to
create a space within Meghshala’s app where teachers could upload, save, and curate their own
content. In addition to using such content in their own lessons, teachers could share content they
nd useful with Meghshala or their peers, which enable the development of grassroots teaching
content and also support teachers’ desire to contribute to the intervention.
Develop data-driven techniques to simplify bureaucratic processes.
Our analysis also re-
veals opportunities for the designers of teacher-focused interventions like Meghshala to help
schools ensure accountability while reducing the administrative burden on teachers. For instance,
in our study, teachers needed to create new structures (feedback registers and Meghshala work-
books) to prove to school management that they were using Meghshala. However, Meghshala is
already collecting usage data, including times and dates of when each TeachKit was used, and could
provide this data to school leadership, perhaps through a visualization dashboard or app. Beyond
simply documenting Meghshala usage, there are numerous future opportunities for organizations
to deliver data-driven insights that may be useful for teachers and higher management. These
opportunities are not dissimilar to those seen in community health programs in HCI4D contexts,
where technology organizations such as CommCare [26] or Medic Mobile [68] provide tools (e.g.,
dashboards) for frontline workers, program managers, and supervisors.
This paper described a qualitative analysis of how teachers in government schools in India recon-
gure their work practices to accommodate a technology intervention that specically focuses
on teachers as the primary users. We discussed how these recongurations demonstrate teachers’
strong sense of agency and desire to be active contributors to such interventions, rather than
passive consumers of technologies that have been designed for them. We also related our ndings
to current theories of teacher knowledge, highlighting the kinds of knowledge production that
teachers in our research tend to focus on, in addition to revealing important gaps in teachers’
knowledge base that are yet to be lled. Finally, we oered design opportunities for researchers
and practitioners interested in developing teacher-focused interventions.
We acknowledge that our ndings are based on a specic case study of one teacher-focused
technology intervention: Meghshala. Thus, there is a possibility that some of our ndings are
specic to Meghshala, although we believe that many aspects of our work will be applicable to
other, similar, such interventions. Also, since we partnered with Meghshala in our study, it is
possible that we obtained a more positive view of the intervention than we might have if we were
not associated with the organization. Our study was also conducted in a specic country (India)
and context (government schools), and the schools we worked in may not be representative of all
Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., Vol. 3, No. CSCW, Article 220. Publication date: November 2019.
Rama Adithya Varanasi, Rene F. Kizilcec,
Nicola Dell
Indian government schools. Future work will be necessary to understand how our ndings may
generalize to other countries and contexts.
We sincerely thank Meghshala, research participants and the anonymous reviewers. This work
was funded in part by an Engaged Cornell student grant.
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... The global proliferation of smartphones has led to them becoming an indispensable work tool for a diverse range of workers in HCI4D [30,54,80], including teachers who work in low-income schools in India [18,106,111]. A rich body of HCI4D research has examined how smartphones can be used to support teachers in classrooms [2,3,18,37,106] and advocates for the integration of smartphones into teachers' work [37,63]. ...
... The global proliferation of smartphones has led to them becoming an indispensable work tool for a diverse range of workers in HCI4D [30,54,80], including teachers who work in low-income schools in India [18,106,111]. A rich body of HCI4D research has examined how smartphones can be used to support teachers in classrooms [2,3,18,37,106] and advocates for the integration of smartphones into teachers' work [37,63]. While there are arguments that smartphones can improve teachers' productivity [37] and compensate for a lack of pedagogical training and resources [107], discussions of how the integration of smartphones into teachers' work lives might have negative effects, particularly on technostress (defined as a specific type of stress that individuals experience due to their use of technology), are notably absent. ...
... To name a few examples, Mathur et al. [63] developed a phone-based content authoring system to help teachers develop teaching aids, Ames examined the One Laptop per Child intervention in Paraguay [2,3], and Frias-Martinez et al. evaluated a mobile learning tool in classrooms in Peru [37]. Focusing specifically on teachers' smartphone use at work, Varanasi et al. describe how Indian teachers reconfigure their work practices around technological tools [106], while Buabeng-Andoh discussed challenges that hinder technology adoption by teachers in lowincome communities [16]. Relatedly, Cannanure et al. [18] explored how teachers' aspirations may impact their smartphone use at work. ...
Conference Paper
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Smartphones play an increasingly large role in the professional lives of teachers in low-income contexts, creating an urgent need to better understand the role of technology-related stress (technostress) in teachers' smartphone use for work. We contribute a mixed methods study analyzing the impact of smartphone use on teachers' work lives in low-income Indian schools. Findings from 70 interviews and 1,361 survey responses suggest that although smartphones aid teaching and administrative functions, smartphone use also significantly predicts burnout among teachers, with technostress providing a major explanation for this relationship. We reveal how teachers' work is constantly surveilled and monitored via technology and how teachers' personal smartphones were controlled and repurposed through socio-technical structures by the higher management to serve management's goals, substantially increasing the work teachers were required to perform outside of work hours. Our work extends technostress research to HCI4D contexts and highlights the need to develop better support structures for teachers and rethink how smartphones are used in their work.
... The increased affordability of smartphones and the internet has further enabled the delivery of online education. Varanasi and colleagues have studied the use of smartphones by teachers in classrooms in India [94,95]. Recognizing varying access to the internet, Poon et al. designed an intervention that helped students in Cameroon prepare for exams using Short Message Service (SMS) and WhatsApp [66]. ...
... ICTD researchers have long sought to enable access to quality education in countries in the Global South using technology. For example, Varanasi et al. have studied the use of smartphones by teachers in classrooms in India, uncovering the workload that they add for teachers [94,95]. Poon et al. recognized the challenges around intermittent internet access, and employed interventions involving SMS and WhatsApp to prepare students prepare for exams [66]. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the transition of workflows across sectors to digital platforms. In education settings, stakeholders previously reluctant to integrate computing technology in the classroom now find themselves with little choice but to embrace it. This move to the digital brings additional challenges in underserved contexts with limited, intermittent, and shared access to mobile or computing devices and the internet. In this rapidly evolving digital landscape, we investigate how educational institutions (schools and non-profit organizations) working with underserved populations in India are managing the transition to online or remote learning. We conducted twenty remote interviews with students, teachers, and administrators from underserved contexts across India. We found that online learning efforts in this setting relied on a resilient human infrastructure comprised of students, teachers, parents, administrators, and non-profit organizations to help navigate and overcome the limitations of available technical infrastructure. Our research aims to articulate lessons for educational technology design in the post-COVID period, outlining areas for improvement in the design of online learning platforms in resource-constrained settings, and identifying elements of online learning that could be retained to strengthen the education system overall.
... The increased affordability of smartphones and the internet has further enabled the delivery of online education. Varanasi and colleagues have studied the use of smartphones by teachers in classrooms in India [94,95]. Recognizing varying access to the internet, Poon et al. designed an intervention that helped students in Cameroon prepare for exams using Short Message Service (SMS) and WhatsApp [66]. ...
... ICTD researchers have long sought to enable access to quality education in countries in the Global South using technology. For example, Varanasi et al. have studied the use of smartphones by teachers in classrooms in India, uncovering the workload that they add for teachers [94,95]. Poon et al. recognized the challenges around intermittent internet access, and employed interventions involving SMS and WhatsApp to prepare students prepare for exams [66]. ...
... The unprecedented times of the pandemic have revealed urgent needs to design onboarding experiences that meet the needs of teachers, parents, and caregivers, who can be key contributors to an effective educational experience. In this discussion, we draw upon existing research on teacher-focused technology training [70], classroom management, informal technology support in the home [54], and homeschooling, highlighting opportunities for innovation in parent-and child-use technologies for virtual learning. ...
The COVID-19 pandemic upended the lives of families with young children as school closures and social distancing requirements left caregivers struggling to facilitate educational experiences, maintain social connections, and ensure financial stability. Considering families' increased reliance on technology to survive, this research documents parents' lived experiences adapting to technology's outsized role alongside other shifts in family life associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we describe a 10-week study with 30 enrolled families with children aged 3 to 13 in the United States using the asynchronous remote communities (ARC) methodology to 1) understand the benefits and challenges faced by families as they adapted technology at home to navigate the pandemic, and 2) to ideate improvements to those experiences through co-design. We found that amidst gaps in infrastructural support from schools, workplaces, and communities, parents experienced deep anxiety and took on new roles, including tech support, school administrator, and curator of meaningful activities for their children. As parents shared bold and creative technology-based solutions for improving family well-being, schooling experiences, social life, and beyond, they demonstrated their capacity to contribute to new models of learning and family life. Our findings are a call to action for CSCW researchers, designers, and family-focused practitioners to work with learning communities that incorporate parent, teacher, and technology experiences in their academic and community planning.
... School leaders were also central for teachers' activities and professional development, through supporting and emphasising teachers' thoughts about oTPD (Nambiar & Thang, 2016;Trust & Horrocks, 2019). Varanasi et al. (2019) noted that school leaders should reduce the number of development programmes at their schools because too many of these can result in teachers being saturated with new programmes. According to this, time management was revealed as a central factor. ...
The purpose of this scoping review is to examine the literature regarding formally organised online teacher communities emphasising teachers' online professional development (oTPD) focusing on studies that took place between 2015 and 2019. By mapping and synthesising 52 empirical studies, a wide range of online programmes are represented. The analysis reveals oTPD as complex processes. Teachers’ internal factors were crucial in their dynamic interactions with the content, facilitators and peers. Scaffolding became the overarching category. Four main concepts were revealed as central for scaffolding oTPD: The teachers, their context, the online programme and facilitating a shared understanding.
... Technology is being increasingly adopted to support education in low-infrastructure contexts by providing resources to students and their families (Poon et al., 2019;Pouezevara & King, 2014;Valderrama Bahamóndez et al., 2011;West & Chew, 2014), as well as teachers (Cannanure et al., 2020;Konagai, 2020;Varanasi et al., 2019Varanasi et al., , 2020. While some devices are used exclusively in schools (Warschauer & Ames, 2010), others are designed for learning outside school to provide students the opportunity to continue learning at home and in their community (Kumar et al., 2012;Valderrama Bahamóndez et al., 2014). ...
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School closures due to teacher strikes or political unrest in low-resource contexts can adversely affect children’s educational outcomes and career opportunities. Phone-based educational technologies could help bridge these gaps in formal schooling, but it is unclear whether or how children and their families will use such systems during periods of disruption. We investigate two mobile learning technologies deployed in sub-Saharan Africa: a text-message-based application with lessons and quizzes adhering to the national curriculum in Kenya (N = 1.3 million), and a voice-based platform for supporting early literacy in Côte d’Ivoire (N = 236). We examine the usage and beliefs surrounding unexpected school closures in each context via system log data and interviews with families about their motivations and methods for learning during the disruption. We find that mobile learning is used as a supplement for formal and informal schooling during disruptions with equivalent or higher intensity, as parents feel responsible to ensure continuity in schooling.
... A rich body of HCI4D literature has focused on teachers in lowresource environments and examined ways to enhance the quality of instruction, help them plan lessons and deliver content, and improve teacher support networks [7,28,57,[76][77][78]83]. However, research that examines the attitudes, preferences, and perceptions of teachers about digital games is severely limited [31,34]. ...
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This study aims to profoundly investigate the usage of tablets distributed within the scope of FATIH Project in Turkey in terms of teacher views. The study was conducted with case study design, which is one of the qualitative study methods. The participants in the study were determined using critical case sampling. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews made with 6 branch teachers working in nickname high school in Sivas during the spring semester of 2014-2015 educational year. As a result of analysis of the interview data, two main themes were determined: the current usage and aims for using the tablets distributed by the Ministry of Education within the scope of FATIH Project and technical problems related to tablets and solution suggestions. According to the findings, it was concluded that the teachers did not use the tablets in the classroom for reasons such as technical problems and not having sufficient in-service education and the tablets have become play things for the students.
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This paper describes a teacher knowledge framework for technology integration called technological pedagogical content knowledge (originally TPCK, now known as TPACK, or technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge). This framework builds on Lee Shulman's (1986, 1987) construct of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) to include technology knowledge. The development of TPACK by teachers is critical to effective teaching with technology. The paper begins with a brief introduction to the complex, ill-structured nature of teaching. The nature of technologies (both analog and digital) is considered, as well as how the inclusion of technology in pedagogy further complicates teaching. The TPACK framework for teacher knowledge is described in detail as a complex interaction among three bodies of knowledge: content, pedagogy, and technology. The interaction of these bodies of knowledge, both theoretically and in practice, produces the types of flexible knowledge needed to successfully integrate technology use into teaching.
The authors use their experience with a professional development project to propose a model of teacher community in the workplace. They describe a project that brought together 22 English and social studies teachers (and a special education and ESL teacher) from an urban high school over a period of 2 10 2 years. The teachers met twice monthly to read together in the fields of history and English and to create an interdisciplinary curriculum. This detailed account of the first 18 months of the project offers new definitions of professional community and its development and illuminates the challenges involved in community formation. One of these challenges is the need to negotiate the “essential tension of teacher community” or the tension between professional development geared to learning new pedagogical practices and that devoted to deepening teachers’ subject matter knowledge in the disciplines of instruction. The authors—who deliberately built this tension into the project—claim that these two facets of professional development must both be respected in any successful attempt to create and sustain intellectual community in the workplace. The authors describe the challenges of maintaining diverse perspectives within a social group and how familiar fault lines—both in society and in school—threaten the pursuit of community. The article includes a model of the markers of community formation as manifested in participants’ speech and action and concludes with a discussion of why we should care about professional communities for teachers.
Simians, Cyborgs and Women is a powerful collection of ten essays written between 1978 and 1989. Although on the surface, simians, cyborgs and women may seem an odd threesome, Haraway describes their profound link as "creatures" which have had a great destabilizing place in Western evolutionary technology and biology. Throughout this book, Haraway analyzes accounts, narratives, and stories of the creation of nature, living organisms, and cyborgs. At once a social reality and a science fiction, the cyborg--a hybrid of organism and machine--represents transgressed boundaries and intense fusions of the nature/culture split. By providing an escape from rigid dualisms, the cyborg exists in a post-gender world, and as such holds immense possibilities for modern feminists. Haraway's recent book, Primate Visions, has been called "outstanding," "original," and "brilliant," by leading scholars in the field. (First published in 1991.).
Online technologies hold promise to support more personalized teacher professional development (PD) experiences, but fulfilling this promise requires heightened attention to what teachers value about the outcomes of their learning. This paper uses the example of the Creative Computing Online Workshop (CCOW) to explore outcomes that teachers described as valuable: exposure to new ideas, rethinking classroom practice, and new relationships with their surrounding world. We discuss how the diversity, specificity, and nonlinearity of these outcomes extend teacher PD research, and suggest implications of this expanded framework for the design and evaluation of PD in both in-person and online contexts.
The SAGE Handbook of Research on Teacher Education offers an ambitious and international overview of the current landscape of teacher education research, as well as the imagined futures. The two volumes are divided into sub-sections: Section One: Mapping the Landscape of Teacher Education Section Two: Learning Teacher Identity in Teacher Education Section Three: Learning Teacher Agency in Teacher Education Section Four: Learning Moral & Ethical Responsibilities of Teaching in Teacher Education Section Five: Learning to Negotiate Social, Political, and Cultural Responsibilities of Teaching in Teacher Education Section Six: Learning through Pedagogies in Teacher Education Section Seven: Learning the Contents of Teaching in Teacher Education Section Eight: Learning Professional Competencies in Teacher Education and throughout the Career Section Nine: Learning with and from Assessments in Teacher Education Section Ten: The Education and Learning of Teacher Educators Section Eleven: The Evolving Social and Political Contexts of Teacher Education Section Twelve: A Reflective Turn This handbook is a landmark collection for all those interested in current research in teacher education and the possibilities for how research can influence future teacher education practices and policies.