By Karishmma V Mangal
Whether schools and parents acknowledge it or not, students are already engaging with technology. It is common to find them glancing at their smartphones to record lectures and browse the Internet for clarifications. As technology has been integrated into most parts of our lives, it is time to integrate it into classrooms in a manner that improves learning outcomes. Here are some key reasons teachers and parents can explore the concept of digitisation in classrooms.
Various studies have shown that the use of technology in the classroom can improve student engagement. Technology can be used to make learning much more fun and allows the students to explore topics to a much greater depth than in a traditional classroom setup. For example, using augmented reality to take students on a virtual field trip where they can see the concepts they learn in action can be much more engaging than a teacher just talking to them.
Learning in the zone
Technology can be used to gamify learning. This means that students are actively engaging in play when in the classroom, rather than just listening to the teacher. Various studies have found that being in “play mode” induces a “flow state” that makes students much more receptive to new knowledge. Additionally, this also allows them to internalise new ways of thinking quickly and create connections between various branches of knowledge. Prensky found in a study that students in a flow state “often accomplish things that you didn’t think you could, along with a great deal of pleasure.”
Freedom to experiment
The best way to learn is through experience. But it is not easy to find opportunities for experimentation in a traditional classroom – the cost of failure is very high. Technology can be used to bring down the cost of failure and allow students to experiment in a virtual environment. Learnings that the students acquire through self-driven experimentation are often retained much longer than learnings acquired from passive memorisation.
Technology can be used to build tests and quizzes as part of a game. An instant feedback system should also be developed in conjecture with these. This will ensure that teacher time that would have otherwise been spent on administrating and grading classroom quizzes will be saved. Automated feedback mechanism would also help students to identify and work on areas that they need help in, by themselves. Apps like Duolingo have successfully implemented this model of teaching, and schools should embrace them to support the teachers’ efforts.
Education experts insist that smaller class sizes with personal attention to each student lead to better educational outcomes. Digitisation provides a cost-effective way to achieve personalisation of teaching methods. The educational agenda can be set up based on the pace that the student is comfortable with, rather than having to force all students to learn at a synchronised pace. Some students may need to spend more time on algebra, while others may need more time to absorb the lessons in a physics lecture. With technology, schools will be able to simulate a class size of one, without having to hire additional teachers.
Digitalisation brings transparency and accountability to education that has been severely lacking in many schools in India. Parents will be able to keep an eye on their child’s progress simply by logging into the school’s website. It will also provide a platform on which teachers and parents can share ideas that would benefit the students on a regular basis. This partnership will improve learning outcomes as no one understands the kids better than their parents.
Apps for books
Digitisation has led to mushrooming of several apps for learning. Similarly, there are some fantastic apps and digital tools that encourage a love for books. Although the percentage of readers is dropping, the apps that introduce children to books and the joy of reading surely give us hope. Despite digitisation books have survived and new publishing houses are launched regularly that are interested in publishing books for children. Books are eternal shining stars of the learning-universe of a child. We are living in a world where digitisation and books coexist. Books stores and many leading publishing companies are using digital medium to popularise books. Children can access books on a screen exactly the way they can access it on the bookshelf. Thus, digitisation will only aid and enhance the beautiful experience of reading books.
Additionally, the use of technology also makes schools more cost-effective. Use of digital material allows them to transition to a less-paper education model. This reduces the carbon footprint of the school while also helping them cut down on costs. Digital teaching material can also be kept up to date at a much lower cost and allowing the students to be in the know of the latest developments in their field of interest.
All things considered, it is imperative to find the right balance between digitalised education and more conventional teaching methods. Everything traditional cannot be replaced with technology. E-readers, for example, cannot replace traditional books completely because we don’t want to have one more device to charge and worry about damaging. We want to be transported to another world in the stories we read; read while we travel or laze around with a book at the beach without having to worry about maintenance and damage.
In conclusion, digitalisation in conjunction with traditional teaching methods is the need of the hour for an imaginative, experiential and holistic teaching-learning experience.
(The writer is Director and Trustee, Thakur International School – Cambridge.)