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The best of both worlds

Ali Asgar Kagzi, Dec 6 2017, 20:33 IST
It is essential that teachers add value to the lessons and inspire students to attain their goals.

It is essential that teachers add value to the lessons and inspire students to attain their goals.

Kofi Atta Annan once said, "Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family." While education is the key to transformation, it is essential to keep re-imagining the mediums through which it is delivered. Time and again, we need to look beyond the four walls of a classroom and traditional methods of teaching for the holistic development of a child.

The advent of technology has liberated education from an archaic system and things are changing for the better, albeit gradually. Gone are the days when students had to take down notes while a teacher was explaining a lesson. These days, with the help of recorded lectures, students are only required to concentrate on what's being taught, and have the option to play it over and over again without having to go through the unnecessary labour of making notes.

Yet, it might be a bit of an over-stretch to think that digital ways alone can solve the problems that affect India's educational landscape. While technology can quicken the process or reach out to more learners, it is only by adopting a seamless blend of the efficiency of the digital medium with the penetrative and focused
traditional pedagogical methods can we create an impact on the way education is consumed.

Connecting with students

One of the greatest contributions of tech-enabled education is the spread of online courses. Online learning offers a host of opportunities to students by offering content-heavy courses, soft-skill courses, language and technical skill courses or simply subject-specific courses.

While this has enabled students in even the remotest areas of the country to learn from material prepared by the best teachers, there is a flipside to it that is often ignored. Education is not a one-time service provider but a long-term process. While machines, artificial intelligence (AI) or any other technical innovation provides the material, it cannot redefine its approach to meet the needs of children who fail to understand the academic concepts through the rigid manner of tech-based education.

People often tend to overlook the fact that technology is only as good as its creator. Unless there is a tutor to inspire, help students through their struggles, adopt teaching methods that are suited to the student's needs and abilities, students won't be able to succeed in their career paths. Technology can only lend a helping hand to learn, but it cannot replace the immense knowledge and experience that comes with a teacher. Therefore, a blend of traditional learning and digital tools is necessary to create an environment that is informative and immersive. This will enable students to achieve good scores.

While AI-powered chatbots can deliver the best of content to many students simultaneously by analysing a large amount of data, it completely lacks on the emotional involvement quotient. Throughout history, teaching has been an interaction between students and the teacher.

Thus, our learning evolution has happened considering the emotional quotient. Technology can certainly change the way students learn, but for students to avail the complete benefits of digital tools, an approach which takes in the emotional connect that students
and teachers have is necessary. It is essential that teachers add value to lessons and inspire students to attain their goals.

The world over, the debate over technology and its pervasive role in human society is intensifying. It is however, beyond doubt that education will do nothing but benefit from a partnered approach by digital innovation and human compassion. A blended approach where technology is used as a driver to empower tutors in delivering exceptional learning outcomes can be put into use to achieve the desired results.

Every child is different with diverse needs, strengths and learning abilities, and a successful system of education is the one that can teach the same lesson in different ways, catering to every student.

(The author is co-founder, Genext Students, Mumbai)

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