Friday, December 16, 2011

Can Computers replace Classrooms ? BUT what constitutes a CLASSROOM ?

This post is triggered by an online article and discussion on "Can Computers replace Classrooms ?" Its a simple discussion topic but with deep underlying links to the process of education. The above surely is some food for thought as it triggers us(at least me !) to think "What all constitutes a Classroom ? Aren't we being short-sighted in thinking about the discussion topic itself because Computers and Classrooms are 2 distinct entities. By Classroom do we just refer to the age old model of transacting education (if i may call it so !) or do we treat classroom as an amalgamation of instruction, learner, transaction, interaction, experience and so much more. A better understanding of constitution of a Classroom can only help us decide/ deliberate on whether computers can replace them or not. The purpose of a classroom is much more than a "rendezvous" of teacher and sudents and is like a place where "learning experiences" are created and "learning" imparted.  Classroom is all about the "process of education". As per me the discussion/ question "Can Computers replace Classrooms ?" is irrelevant and is valid as long as we are short-sighted in our perception of "Classroom". Computers (or for that matter any Technology) are great facilitators of Education and Learning. So, lets not confuse the matters by engaging in the replacement debate.

The above are purely my thoughts based on my experience in helping schools and educators adopt ICT/ Technology in Education/ Teaching-Learning.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

35$ Tablet Device by India

"Aakash" - touted as the world's cheapest Tablet Device was launched by the Minister on 5 October 2011. The big question is whether it will survive the litmus test. (Earlier, an experiment to create the cheapest computin device had backfired as during the launch, the computing device turned out to be a storage device.)

This tablet device has been created by Datawind, a UK company and the tablets are likely to be provided to students in various Universities soon. The tablet sets to achieve the task of bridging the digital divide between thos who can afford computer and those who can't. The tablet promises a lot and therefore needs to deliver as there is much at stake this time. 

Though the tablet claims to be the world's cheapest but there surely are many similar ranged devices available (mentioned in the link below). The tablet is aimed at the student segment, both higher education and school education. Whether the tablet aims to achieve digital literacy or educational support is still a question.

Few useful links for the device

The performance and functioning of the device would determine how successful it is in achieving its objective(s)...keeping my fingers crossed till then !!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

World Teachers' Day - 5 Oct

World Teachers’ Day, held annually on October 5th since 1994 - when it was created by UNESCO - celebrates teachers worldwide. Its aim is to mobilise support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.

The theme for this year is "Teachers for gender equality"

Wish all a very Happy Teachers' Day !!!

More info on the same is available on the following links
In India the Teachers' Day is celebrated on  5 Sept in memory of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. It is all about celebrating "being a teacher".

Monday, October 3, 2011

TECHNOLOGY - How much is too much ?

Technology has by far been the most critical leveraging agent in education - be it access, equity, quality or anything else mentioned. But as they say, "too much of anything is bad" and that is exactly what is happening with technology in our schools, colleges and other educational institutions. We are piling on technology like anything without bothering as to whether we are optimally utilising it. Technology pressence in schools has become a "fad" and is gradually losing the "sheen". Hardly any thought is put to "Technology Adoption" or "Technology Integration" and the entire effort and resource in put into buying/ procuring technology. This is leading to a situation of "Technology Over-deployment but Under-Utilisation".

The best way to use technology to the right extent and in an appropriate way is to map its use to learning objectives. Being aware of the available technology tools and then mapping them to our learning objectives go a long way in determining the proper technology usage.

Do remember "Every technology may not serve every subject, topic, teacher or learning objective" . The user's discretion in being selective definitely helps

Mutliple Roles of a Teacher

A teacher plays mutliple roles and is much more than a "sage on the stage". This multi-role is necessitated by the need to create impactfule learning by connecting with the learners and engaging them in the tasks of learning. Its no longer the "monologue" that does the trick. Everything now has underwent a change, be it the the educational objectives, curriculum, leaner's requirements and so on. These roles are guided by the learner's requirements and needs. Some of the major roles a teacher could assume could be
  • Counsellor - to help children recognise and deal with their issues so as to focus on the learning task
  • Presenter - to cater to the large mass in the class and deliver the information/ knowledge in the most impactful way
  • Communicator - to reach out to the audience and engage them in the task of learning
  • Facilitator - to help learners guide their own learning.
  • Trainer - to deliver the desired learning using various techniques, games, tools, etc.
Of course, the above list is incomplete and as teachers assume the above roles, they would feel the need to explore many more roles.

21st Century Education - Changing Paradigms

The 21st Century is witnessing a paradigm shift in Education, not only in terms of what gets delivered but also how it gets delivered. All aspects of Education are seeing a change aimed towards more effective and impactful learning. The "Teacher" is more of a "Learning Facilitator" now and the "Learners" are more of "Digital Citizens" now. This paradigm shift has necessitated the need for a change in our approach and delivery of education. I have listed few aspects that are/ have seen a paradigm shift.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Teaching is no Fun

Teaching for sure is no fun, neither earlier nor now. Gone are the days when a teacher was just expected to teach and maybe to take attendance and check paper/ test sheets. A teacher is more like a "robot" now, an automated being which has been clocked to perform same set of duties day after day, year after year. The "passion" can exist only when the "fun" element is present in what you do. Any teacher from any system in India can vouch for this that a teacher is spending more time in "non-teaching" stuff than teaching. All those who joined teaching for passion cannot boast that they enjoy what they are doing because they are doing everything else plus teaching. When we talk about improving our education system, could we also give a thought to this aspect as well so that the passion remains intact and teaching not being like a regular chore for teachers.

Understanding the real "Shiksha"

It is high time that we all understand what real "Shiksha" is and do our bit to help the cause. "Shiksha" which means "Education" in Hindi is not the responsibility of educators alone but of the entire society. The sooner each staeholder start contributing their bit to the cause, the better it would be for our future generations and for our country as well. We need to rise above the micro issues/ thought process and look at the macro picture - that of a country full of youth that is not only literate but educated in the real sense. This real education is nothing but a belief in each one of the educated youth that they are capable of not only making a difference in their lives but in the lives of all those around them/ associated with them. Lets work together to make it happen !!

Welcome to Think Shiksha

Welcome to my blog "Think Shiksha" which is an attempt to share about the issuses that confronts the education system (especially in India) and also provides some food for thought for all readers. Most of the posts(sharing) would be from my personal experience and from the sharing/ discussion done by/ with numerous educators. I thank all the educators whom i have interacted with for all the learning that i have gathered from them and wish i could keep learning this way always. This blog comes after much self-deliberation and is an honest attempt to highlight issues (big or small) in education that need our attention.

Hope all readers enjoy reading it as much as i enjoy writing the posts.

Thanks - Narinder