Expert Speaks / General

The Classroom That Once Was

The Classroom That Once Was

Assistant Editor

27 Jul, 2020

Have you ever wondered what might be going on in a child’s mind ever since the schools shut down and he was confined to his home? The answer is Yes and no. We do feel his sense of loss of freedom but we don’t understand that instead of lessons in school, now we are asking him to swallow a lot of digital content, through the so-called “Online Teaching”, which mind you is not equivalent to “Online Learning”.

Most of the teachers in India, never learnt using technology nor were trained to teach via technology.

They are of the blackboard and chalk era. However, they have quickly upskilled themselves to begin online classes. Books, Blackboard, or chalk are mere tools in the hands of a teacher, so is technology. It really depends on how you harness it. Whether you have befriended technology?

Teachers need to actually REIMAGINE their CLASSROOM on a virtual platform. They have to think about whether their lesson design understands the Limitations of Technology they are using?

Do you use a variety of Platforms like Mentimeter, Padlet, G Forms, Kahoot to teach different things at different times to different age groups? Because One size won’t fit all!

Redesigning & customizing our technology to the topics that we are teaching is the key? E.g. Zooming is not teaching but teaching children how to research online is a skill to learn and should certainly be taught.

Most schools are finding stop-gap solutions to continue teaching, but the quality of learning is heavily dependent on the level and quality of digital access. After all, only around 60% of the globe’s population is online.

For example, virtual classes on personal tablets may be the norm in Hong Kong, but, many students in less developed economies rely on lessons and assignments sent via WhatsApp or email.

Right now, the question is not what is teaching but to articulate, ”WHAT is Learning?”

Learning always happens in a Non-threatening, comforting, and self-paced environment. For many a student, a real classroom may not be an ideal place to learn at their own pace and style. Sometimes they are dominated, judged, and snubbed by their peers in a physical class, they are unable to keep up the pace with the progress of syllabus. I am talking about mediocre or weak children.

For them, Technology is a boon!

The virtual space allows the child’s skills and thoughts to develop, without judging their acumen with respect to others. The online courses are a beautiful bubble in which each student learns unthreatened!

The class which is most liked by the children will get maximum attendance. Students voluntarily like to participate in classes where they see a personal involvement of the teacher, rather than a copy-paste or forwarded video.

Said that Technology must be used wisely and selectively. Wise teachers Combine traditional academic merit and contemporary digital innovation to achieve the best results. They offer spaces for children to Pause and Reflect between classes.

They allow participation and engage children so that the OWNERSHIP of Learnings happen. Teacher centric class was neither effective before nor will it be now. The only difference is the child had to tolerate a boring class as he/she couldn’t run away but now the Controls of “SHOWING Up” are with the students.

However, Teaching through Technology poses a challenge when it comes to Junior children as for them the Human Warmth and experiential learning and nonverbal stimuli are essential.

Assessments are another key aspect of schooling that technology has a phenomenal potential to enhance. But so far we haven’t been able to tap the full potential of this resource. E.g. Sharing of ideas by the students to find novel solutions is also an evaluation of what has been learnt.

However, in our current system, we only believe in asking a question from within the syllabus and children answer as per their memory. This is a very limiting approach to Learning…

To conclude, the teacher has to cleverly tame Technology to his/her advantage by navigating across it’s burgeoning potential now and even post COVID era.