Taking technology to classrooms

Taking technology to classrooms

Given the advancement in technology today, it is possible to make classroom-learning much more interesting, refreshing and innovative, observes P B Kotur.

Technology has a significant role to play in our lives having revolutionized the world in a plethora of fields. From robotics to embedded technologies, automobiles to aero dynamics, gadgets to the virtual world, we have come a long way. But what about setting the foundation to foster the process of technology - education? How much has it given back to the field of learning?

In our country, teaching has always been a one way communication. Traditionally, a teacher has occupied the central stage in the teaching-learning process. Today, students think they don’t have any role to play in the classroom learning and are quite happy with it. At the same time, teachers seem to have no problem with that.

A communication gap persists between the student and the teacher. On one hand, students asking questions is not encouraged and on the other hand, the students haven’t developed a ‘firm and polite’ way of asking questions. Raising questions for sheer understanding is seen as questioning the authority and regarded offensive. This perception hasn’t changed in our country. Teachers and students are the two wings of an airplane. 

A synergy has to be built keeping in mind the students’ ability to understand and the teachers’ ability to motivate and inspire them. Refraining from doing so may lead to certain afflictions. Students, with their unflagging energy, possess an ability to revolutionize the world if guided properly by the teachers. Therefore, it is essential for the teachers to channelize the creative aura of the young minds towards a desired academic and socio-economic result.

Today, with the advancement in technology, it is possible to make the classroom learning much more interesting, refreshing and innovative. By making use of a variety of learning tools and technologies combined with students’ curiosity of exploring, the classroom experience can be enriched and made remarkable. But unfortunately, the academia has failed in bringing the required thought process, energy, enthusiasm and modern methods of learning to the classroom. 

Are our teachers reluctant to use different teaching tools and technologies? Do they find storytelling, brainstorming, analogy sharing, trend analysis, group learning, creative writing, instant programming, quick designing, and gaming skills as a boring approach? What would they be pleased with – controlling or leading the classroom? What would they cherish with their students – just passed or surpassed? 

There are several ways in which a teacher can make the teaching-learning process more inclusive and interesting. A teacher must be able to wear different hats as that of a trainer, facilitator, mentor, coach, leader, friend and philosopher. 
Teaching for Life

Teaching is for life and must not just be for a mere career. Teaching is all about creating a suitable learning environment with well articulated learning framework to foster talent among students. Teaching tools such as story-telling, case studies, audio and video notes, cartoons, etc could be used to enhance the learning. The teaching-learning process must help students imbibe the best practices in their lives. 

“The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards,” said Anatole France. Teaching must strike the right balance between the core ‘subject’ and its ‘associated values’. Values and ethics need to be demonstrated than just be taught in the usual way. Deliberate practice leads to definite results. 
Involve and innovate

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” - Steve Jobs A paradigm shift of learning approach from teacher-centric to student-centric learning approach needs to be implemented. Teaching without the students’ involvement is like a one sided coin. The primary objective of teaching is to make students understand and comprehend the subject matter. The classroom has to be viewed like a playground and not as a battlefield where every individual can express their ideas and views. Brainstorming, group discussion, presentations, quizzes, puzzles, panel discussions, etc may help teachers to deliver effective sessions. Learning is fun. Students can contribute to the ‘spirit-of-learning’ with their natural innovative attitude. 
Practical experience 

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.” – John Keats Learners gain knowledge through simple actions such as reading, writing, and listening. However, the knowledge gained in these ways, may not last long.  Learners must experience the power of learning. Experiential learning uses 3Hs - Head (thinking and analyzing), Heart (emotions) and Hand (action).  Experience is a product of dedication, devotion and determination. Students who experience the power of learning are in control of both inputs and outputs of learning. A teacher should provide such an experience to the students.  
Complexity to simplicity

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  - ConfuciusRole plays, model making, demos and analogy sharing can be used as tools to transform complex topics to simple ones and can promote lateral thinking. Reproducing the contents of the books as it is in the classroom is like touching the surface of the water. Allow the learner to take time to think beyond the scope of the immediately available solution and come up with a well structured, tested, and far reaching solutions. Spoon feeding does not make anyone ‘great and respected’. Conducting debates, surveys, and crossword competitions can add on to the fun element along with imparting knowledge.

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