Technology in the classroom
The story so far…There was a time (and in many places other than the metros, it still is) when technology in the classroom of a school meant either having a room equipped with audio visual devices, usually a tape recorder and a VCR or advertising your school as a smart class equipped school with some classrooms fitted with projectors connected to a new generation writing board called the smart board. It all started with using these facilities in regular periodic classes showing children educational content.
Those were the days when teachers were to be coaxed and sometimes forced to make use of the topic wise available electronic academic content at least for a mandatory number of hours. The content sometimes not up to mark but not easily recognizably so, did serve the purpose of a break from monotonous class schedules for both students and teachers. Teachers were mostly stuck with the idea of anything to do with the computers being an automatic referral to the computer teacher! Real beneficiaries of the set up were the top level students with the gap between their content clarity and mastery of a topic being bridged.
A GOOD START NO DOUBT! WHAT NOW?
Today the ability to use technology is not under a scanner at all! Use of smart phones, social media and fondness for making home videos and picture collages have very easily taken care of that hurdle! Most good schools today are in a position to use technology as an instructional tool rather than just a subject of instruction. However, complete seamless integration is still a far cry.
Need of the hour therefore, is to introduce technology seamlessly into our school lessons and school work by teachers for both themselves and students. Teachers must comfortably shift from digital to traditional and vice versa as and when required. Students must employ technology daily in the classroom using a variety of tools to complete assignments and create projects that show a deep understanding of content.
Technology has to now be just a tool to make the real teaching –learning process go on smoothly, to enable superior learning to take place.
SOME OF THE WAYS OF TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION IN A SCHOOL CLASSROOM
- Teacher specific tools
- Online learning and blended classrooms
- Project-based activities
- Game-based learning
- Learning with mobile devices
- Instructional tools like interactive whiteboards and student response systems
- Web-based projects, exploration, and research
- Student-created media
- Collaborative online tools like wiki or google docs
- Using social media to engage students
- Flipped classrooms
Most of the above are in use in most schools of the metros and in a scattered manner in other cities of India. However, for the potential to be explored and used fully a lot more needs to be done. The reason is obvious; for the teaching learning process to be of optimal quality the soul – the teacher has to be on the technology path from within herself/himself. That alone will bring about seamless integration of technology for optimal success in the teaching-learning process.
SOME REASONS FOR TEACHER RESISTANCE TO THE USAGE:
- It is hard to affect change in the way one teaches, especially given that many educators work confidently with familiar and proven methods.
- Already working hard, teachers may understandably be wary of anything with the potential of making their jobs more complicated.
- Using technology or to be more specific even only electronic academic content requires meticulous planning and time even if it is for lower classes. The added time might prove to be a deterrent for some.
What might help:
- Including teachers in the decision making processes to evaluate the extent of use and what to use helps to a certain extent.
- Though the planning and execution of how new technology will be integrated are important, at the end of the day, what matters most when selecting technology is its ease of use.
- There can be no substitute for the time spent on planning. Planning has to be done with the right amount of time spent on it. This is where a Head can help. Regular integration of time slots for academic content planning right down to the micro level within the school time schedule itself is a big help.
Technology is here to stay and students today are coming to class with more and more technical know-how whether a teacher likes it or not. There are many educators, less familiar and less comfortable with technology than their students, struggling to seamlessly integrate a growing list of technology tools into their regular curriculum.
So it is high time we educators came out of our comfortable stupor, stemming out of a superiority claimed due to experience. Let us decide whether we want to reach the top of the pyramid of technology integration or not!
Renu Vashishta an educator – technically on a sabbatical – is actually working, researching, blogging, interacting meaningfully with children of all ages. She began her career as a primary school teacher, rising very fast to become a teacher of mathematics teaching senior classes. A winner of a gold medal for preparing the best teaching aid, she has worked as a Head of primary and pre-primary schools and curriculum co-ordinator for a chain of primary schools too.
Her experience of 21 years, other than teaching mathematics includes working with the very young as well as young children, accommodating and adopting the latest in education, planning and formulating curriculum and devising innovative lesson plans and assignments, writing content for books as well as e-learning, editing school magazines and managing and organising academic events /programmes.
She has recently finished her MOOC from MIT(US) on LAUNCHING INNOVATION IN SCHOOLS