‘We need to be ready for digital classrooms’

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‘We need to be ready for digital classrooms’

Wednesday, 14 August 2019 | Beas Dev Ralhan

‘We need to be ready for digital classrooms’

To bring education into the digital age, teachers have to upgrade their skills and adapt to the tech-integrated learning techniques to attract young learners, says Beas Dev Ralhan

Kids today are growing up with word processors as basic writing tools, social media as the major communicative and networking platform, and graphic content creation software to give wings to their creative fire. Every child becomes a digital pro far more quickly than the older generations can ever hope to be at a single digital application.

Yet, the 2017-18 NCERT report on education in India says that less than 50 per cent of teacher trainees are comfortable with using word processor, graphic software, blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, podcast and mobile learning applications; majority of the trainees have not done any online course and attended online seminar; 34 per cent of trainees never use PPT for teaching and the majority of the trainees never communicated with students regarding lesson during internship.

If the situation is such with present teacher trainees, what of the existing teachers? They are trained to prepare students for college and careers using a one-size-fits-all learning model that is tailored to the past. Moreover, owing to their meagre IT skills, they can’t upskill themselves continuously via readily available e-learning platforms. As a result, students are leaving schools with the competency necessary for 21st-century workplace requirements, and consequently, are ill-prepared for the future.

While some educators believe that to bring education to the digital age, teachers have to upgrade their skills to adapt to the tech-integrated learning techniques that attract young learners now. However, this is difficult with about 70 per cent of our population in the rural areas which lack basic technical equipment to facilitate this. But the Government and the private edtech sector have joined hands to bring this vision to fruition.

The primary course of action is, of course, to make sure that the necessary digital infrastructure is available everywhere. The Digital India scheme, with more than 3 lakh common service centres, is aimed at bringing digital infrastructure to every nook and corner of the country. The Government intends to build a lakh digital villages with internet connection and digital devices in the next few years so that the education sector is especially benefited from this.

According to the New Education Policy drafted this year, the Government intends to bring teacher training to the foremost of the developmental concerns in the education sector. Apart from increasing the time-period of the teacher-training programmes on a national level, the Government has put a lot of emphasis on the upskilling of teachers via tech-integrated training programmes, regular refresher courses, workshops and fellowship programmes. A huge repository of e-learning material for professional development, with subject-level pedagogical instruction and is available on SWAYAM, a free, online platform initiated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The premier institutes like IIT-Bombay and IIT-Kanpur have conducted MOOCs to help teachers brush up their IT skills and integrate technology into day-to-day pedagogy.

Starting from April 2019, Next Education started its own MOOCs for various sectors and subjects for K-12 educators like early childhood education, and subjects like Computer Science, EVS, Maths and English. The courses not only ensure greater knowledge on formulating effective learning objectives, instructional strategies and methods of assessment in their respective subjects, but also open doors to collaboration in various aspects of teaching and learning.

Teachers are pivotal in delivering quality education and upskilling them in meaningful technology integration for better instruction is the best way to ensure better learning outcomes. A looming problem is the — one solution for all strategies in teacher-training programmes. Better strategies need to be in place to develop professional skills in the technology integration in classes, with different approaches.

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