|Type||Operating public charity
|Focus||HIV/AIDS Education technology|
|Piya Sorcar, CEO|
The TeachAIDS software has been cited as a model health intervention. Since the materials bypass issues of stigma, they allow HIV prevention education to be provided to communities where it has previously not been allowed. In other communities, the tutorials provide the highest learning effects and comfort rates of any tested educational approach.
The TeachAIDS materials are animated, interactive software tutorials, customized for individual cultures and languages, and incorporating the voices of celebrities from each region. In India, these include national icons such as actress Shabana Azmi, actor Akkineni Nagarjuna, and director Amol Palekar. In Botswana, they include musicians Scar and Zeus, with an introduction from the former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae.
TeachAIDS operates globally, with its animations in use in more than 30 countries. Its materials are made available for free under a Creative Commons License, funded through donations from individuals and organizations including Covington & Burling, Google, Nimmagadda Foundation, UNICEF, and Yahoo!.
TeachAIDS began in 2005 as a research project at Stanford University. From 2005 to 2009, a new interdisciplinary approach to HIV/AIDS education was developed by Piya Sorcar, based on IRB-approved research conducted under professors Shelley Goldman (Learning Sciences), Martin Carnoy (Comparative Education), Cheryl Koopman (Psychiatry), Randall Stafford (Epidemiology), and Clifford Nass (Communication).
The project's goal was to find a way to address the frequently taboo subjects associated with sexual issues and HIV/AIDS specifically. One major finding was that 2D cartoon figures were the optimal balance between comfort and clarity in terms of visual representation for sex-related topics. On that basis, animated storyboards were created which emphasized the biological aspects of HIV transmission and used cultural euphemisms to overcome social stigma. In addition, specific pedagogical techniques (e.g., instructional scaffolding) were utilized to create a coherent conception of HIV transmission for learners, as opposed to the fragmented knowledge created by mass media campaigns.
Early research versions of the animations were sponsored by Time Warner, the Government of South Korea, and Neeru Khosla, and used custom illustrations drawn by Sorcar's father, award-winning animator Manick Sorcar. Pilot versions were subsequently created in English, Hindi, Kinyarwanda, Mandarin, and Spanish. Additional experts contributed to the design and evaluation of the materials, including Stanford professors David Katzenstein (Infectious Disease), Douglas Owens (Medicine), and Roy Pea (Learning Sciences).
Spun out of Stanford in 2009, TeachAIDS began expanding its organization and developing new versions of its tutorials for additional countries and languages around the world. Additional versions of the tutorials in Indian English, Telugu, and Tswana were launched in 2010.
The TeachAIDS tutorials are available for free online and are used in more than 30 countries around the world. In addition, numerous AIDS service organizations, AIDS education and training centers, NGOs, and government agencies distribute and utilize the tutorials as part of their own HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. Some of the organizations partnered with TeachAIDS include CARE, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the U.S. Peace Corps.
In India, the National AIDS Control Organisation approved the TeachAIDS materials in January, 2010, marking the first time HIV/AIDS education could be provided decoupled from sex education. Later that year, the Government of Karnataka approved the materials for their state of 50 million and committed to distributing them in 5,500 government schools.
In Botswana, the TeachAIDS tutorials have been adopted nationally as a standard method for HIV/AIDS education. In 2011, the Ministry of Education will be distributing the tutorials to every primary, secondary, and tertiary educational institution in the country, reaching all learners from 6 to 24 years of age nationwide.
In the United States, the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education distributes the tutorials on CD along with a custom educator handbook, both of which are made available at no cost.
Numerous international actors, musicians, and celebrities have lent their voices and likenesses to the TeachAIDS materials. These include Nagarjuna Akkineni, Amala Akkineni, Shabana Azmi, Shruti Haasan, Jayanthi, Imran Khan, Prashanta Nanda, Anu Choudhury, Navdeep, Amol Palekar, Anu Prabhakar, Swati Reddy, Anushka Shetty, Siddharth, Sudeep, Zeus, and many others.
The TeachAIDS advisory board includes film director Mahesh Bhatt, HIV/AIDS treatment pioneer Nimmagadda Prasad, Global Fund for Women founder Anne Firth Murray, and former President of Botswana Festus Mogae.
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