Technology – I have ranted more about it in the last few months than I have in my entire life. About 2-3 years ago, if an aggrieved parent approached me with issues of low academic accomplishment of their ward, my first inquiry to them would consistently be, "Does your child have a laptop or a smartphone?" If they did, I would advise them to confiscate the devices and encourage the child to go for a digital detox. How was I to know that in March '20, the substance of schooling would change completely and everlastingly?
Computers and Wi-Fi-smart devices joined the "essentials" list along with ROTI-KAPDA-MAKAAN, reminding the entire teacher-learner community that it is time to empty our cups and refill them with digital experiences. This is the right time to reduce the dependency on textbooks and rote learning and promote Project Based Learning. Teachers must design tailor-made project work for learners in which technology automatically becomes a support system. The research would require the students to search for reliable websites and work around the available information. Teachers will use multimedia educational aids that the students can access at their homes to learn at their pace. Classroom settings will become friendlier and colorful. The idea of inviting scholars from different parts of the world for special online lectures can facelift the entire scenario and open new avenues.
This type of teaching-learning is repeatable and consistent. Utilising various strategies such as live guidance, and text & video, significantly increase engagement, cognitive skills, and retention. The best-expected advantage from this comes when it empowers versatile and customised learning to suit children with different abilities. For instance, the strategies above can help utilise tests on KAHOOT or another social-educational platform like FLIPGRID to figure out what resources should be rehashed, strengthened, or skipped, depending upon a student's progress as opposed to relying upon the conventional chalk-and-talk technique. Augmented Reality (AR) has colossal potential for instruction and visualisation, especially for showcasing dynamic conceptual processes. This innovation is ideal for discussing concepts in each subject and solidifies abstract ideas in young learners' minds by showcasing concepts in a tangible form.
Now we come to evaluation strategies. They are vital for measuring instruction and learning and need to be adopted widely. The customary evaluation procedures usually group all students in a framework of a 9-grade system. Instead, taking online tests and quizzes designed according to the students' abilities after each concept is taught can elevate their scholastic experience. A test can become something to look forward to as opposed to being a fearful prospect. Even the Hon'ble Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, has always remarked that exams are to be celebrated (PARIKSHA PARV). This learning journey must be enhanced by putting forth multidimensional evaluation strategies combined with tech-based applications for enhanced learning.
What do evaluation strategies eventually lead to? Better jobs. It begs the question, what is the future of the job market? It's not a secret that future economies will be fueled by technology. The education sector needs to welcome this change with open arms because technology will shape the entirety of the post-pandemic world.
What are we preparing our students for? Are we preparing them to think, respond, and adapt to the digital scenario? Are we ready to make them thinkers or mere calculators? If our country has to become a knowledge economy, then digital pedagogy in the classrooms will have to be blended. It's imperative to distinguish the two – scaffolds and obstructions. The web is simply the best training asset ever evolved. But only trained minds can use this learning resource properly and judiciously because the web is an open playground with minimal rules and control. This situation demands teachers' retraining since we need to emphasise Curated Guided Education, Online Self Learning, and the fusion of AI in regular classrooms. Although today's learners have the know-how of handling online media platforms adequately, it doesn't imply that they can utilise technology as a viable learning device. Learners now require enabled facilitators to handhold them through these seasons of change, protecting them from the worst and guiding them through the maze that is the world wide web.
The New Choluteca Bridge is a spectacular illustration of what can befall us as the world around changes.
In 1996, an extension was built on the Choluteca river situated in Honduras, Central America. Two years later, a storm struck Central America which caused more than 11,000 fatalities. While the Hurricane cleaned away streets and annihilated scaffolds, the new Choluteca Bridge was the only thing standing. The hurricane flooding caused the Choluteca river to change its course rendering the new bridge purposeless. The bridge earned the moniker "The Bridge to Nowhere". The purpose of constructing the structure got defeated. A solution was present, but the problem statement changed itself! We don't need our new education system to resemble the new Choluteca Bridge: an outstanding construction over nothing, leading nowhere. Our education system should be ready to embrace and adapt to massive changes as they come much sooner than the Choluteca Bridge, which was connected to the highway after five years in 2003.
Technology needs to be a substructure for all blended learning environments. How?
- By keeping the guidelines of NEP in the forefront which proposes CODING be introduced in Class 6. It requires teacher training at the base level.
- By making the curriculum framework revolve around experiential learning and using technology as a firm base.
- By collaborating on projects and sharing resources with institutions worldwide to add value to the process.
- By utilising self-assessment techniques and evaluation structures including MCQ's, thought-provoking & critical thinking inducing self-paced tests, and meaningful tailor-made projects for each child. The use of various online assessment resources and constant monitoring will accelerate learning.
The most beautiful aspect of technology integration is the joy of inclusivity. A dream of every educator; that students of all capabilities can experience learning in the same setup at their own pace. Let's "learn to unlearn" and embrace technology as a sub-structure for all blended learning environments.