Digital technology makes its way into classrooms

Digital technology makes its way into classrooms

E-learning

Classrooms, learning, and teaching need to move in tandem with the technology, writes Shantanu Prakash.

We are living in a digital world where technology has dramatically altered our lives in ways that couldn’t have been imagined even as recent as a decade back.  As technology continues to expand its influence and impact, industries are faced with the challenge of keeping pace and innovating to apply it in newer ways in their businesses. Education too has had to respond to the changing technological landscape.

Technology is today playing a crucial role in the delivery of education and has raised the bar for the learning and teaching process.  In a traditional classroom where the teacher facilitated the process of teaching through verbal explanations, drawing and writing on the chalkboard, and children copied and learned by rote to remember, digital classrooms have transformed the entire teaching-learning equation providing both, the learner and the teacher with tools that enhance the entire experience for both.

A digital classroom is basically an Information and Communication Technology [ICT]-based classroom solution which aims at converting traditional classroom teaching  into interactive sessions by the use of applied technology and multimedia content. A digital classroom extends far beyond the walls of a physical classroom and creates new opportunities and innovative ways to learn that defies the concept of the classroom ‘period’, making learning accessible 24x7 and responsive to the particular needs of the student. Imparting education through digital classrooms brings about a radical change in the overall scenario of the teaching-learning methodology since it not only eases the physical burden of students carrying heavy textbooks but makes learning more interesting and also enhance the teacher’s productivity.Digital content helps to simplify complex concepts, provide better understanding and makes learning more engaging from the student’s point of view. Theoretical subjects like history and geography become more interesting with visual aids and overall learning outcome is enhanced.

Students, on their part, being quick adapters, have begun to use ICT tools to get a better understanding of curriculum, concepts and learn through visual learning strategies. This is also helping them train to compete at the global level with exposure to modern technology and international on par content. With almost 53% of students using  a smartphone or connected to the internet, it is no surprise that students prefer learning through technology. Parents too, are playing a huge part as influencers in moving from traditional education modules to digital delivery methods.

Digital classrooms have also modernized teaching by providing teachers with a broad, flexible and agile methodology to organise their teaching methodology. An increasing number of teachers are using technology-led tools as teaching aids to enhance the quality of their lessons. The teachers can also explain the toughest of lessons via 3D images and power point presentations. Digitalization also enhances teacher’s productivity by providing various tools such as projectors, interactive boards and assessment devices.  A newer innovation, that of digital tablets and computers in schools is already redefining the contours of existing ICT-led education delivery. Tablets are a new category of products which can fulfill all the educational needs of students and learners in the most effective way due to their portable design and interactive capabilities. The use of tablets allows students to customise learning at their own pace and in the manner that suits them best. Learning becomes more project-based and there is greater peer-to-peer interaction. Tablets also provide students with immediate access to research and other important tools like dictionary and encyclopedia and they can update information effortlessly or  undertake assignments in situ.

Teachers too benefit with the help of tablets. Teachers can develop innovative pedagogical approaches: prepare lessons, improve learning resources and use them in class or outdoor at a pace they can choose. Tablets can display high-resolution video and illustrate concepts and deliver all existing multimedia content in the same fashion as before with the additional advantage of portability and access. In effect, tablets remove one more layer of access between the teacher and the taught and continues to inject the transformational power of technology into education delivery and outcome.

Schools are opting for ICT enabled smart classes in droves. Implementation of ICT has replaced traditional blackboards and textbooks to digital blackboards, audio-visual rooms and interactive session. Audio-visual rooms, e-boards and knowledge centres are adding a new dimension to  teaching processes. The ICT education market in India is estimated at R2, 85,000 crore ($50 billion) and expected to grow to R5,70,000 crore ($100 billion) by 2014.

Overall, ICT in education has enhanced the quality of education, increased learner motivation and enhanced teacher performance. It is today impossible to think of education without thinking of it in terms of digital content and delivery mechanisms. As technology continues to innovate, we can expect more customized solutions in education, more emphasis on improving education outcome and a greater push towards universalisation of digital education.

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