August 15, 2016 7 min to read

Digital Citizens

Category : Innovation

Author: Dr Madhuri Parti

Introduction:
Dr. N.Madhuri Parti is a visionary and futuristic educationist. She has a vast experience in setting schools, has started and led various schools and played a vital role in the evolution of learning experiences for many students. With an experience of over two decades, she has been associated with Educomp and Shri Ram New Horizons as a Group Director. She is presently spearheading Lakshmipat Singhania Education Foundation, Gurgaon and has been actively involved in building learning environments, developing out of the box curriculum and promoting hands on learning. Proud recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Excellence In education Award, she has brought a paradigm shift in the learning framework and executed the 21 st century learning methodology, which includes collaborative learning adding creativity, innovation and honing the critical thinking and problem solving skills of students. She is focused on producing creative and innovative thinkers and this is what Dr Parti highlights in her below piece to MENTOR.

The Global Community
Schools, leaders and teachers need to be early adopters. However, a significant body of research has also made it clear that most teachers have been slow in transforming the way they teach, despite the influx of new technology. There remains limited evidence to show that technology and online learning are improving the learning outcomes for most students. Academicians and parents alike have expressed concerns about digital distraction, ways in which unequal access to end use of technology might widen the achievement gap and much more. Our children are at an advantage where they experience other cultures and develop skills in a closely connected world. They are better prepared to be productive and compassionate citizens in an increasingly global economy. They are able to improve their communication skills, collaborate effectively and be ready for multicultural workspaces.

We as educators must realize that by using technology as a means of imparting education we are becoming a part of the fast growing global community where people are learning from experiences rather than books, where knowledge is being imparted as a living process and not merely a learning process. In order to integrate technology into our day-to-day learning experiences we need to empower four pillars i.e. teachers, students, parents and school management, the most crucial being the teachers.

When we think of a teacher’s roles and responsibilities, tasks like planning instruction, delivering instruction, assessing student learning and managing the classroom environment can be pictured. These are the typical images we get about a teacher and her responsibilities. In this second decade of the 21st century, is it time to reconsider the roles and responsibilities of teachers, specifically in terms of technology and its usage?

Say Hello to the Future!
In the future there will be an increasing emphasis on teachers’ technological-pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) marked by an integration of knowledge in all three key components: technology, pedagogy and content.

Designing technology-integrated learning will continue playing a crucial role. Teacher-related factors such as confidence, attitudes toward technology integration, and willingness to undertake a change incorporating technology use for student learning are hallmarks of this century’s best teachers. It is becoming imperative to integrate information literacy and technology skills into regular curriculum. Such skills are essential for effective functioning in today’s knowledge society. Effective integration of technology into the classroom depends on teachers who have the knowledge of how to use technology to meet instructional goals.

Exemplary technology-using teachers often have greater personal technology skills, allowing for open-ended learning activities, and see technology less as an add-on or as electronic drill sheet, and more as integral component of a learning plan.

We need to work on changing the competencies of our teachers; we also constantly need to work on upskilling of the profession and providing them with possibilities for differentiation and individualization. Likewise, it is important for teachers to have ample access to technology so that conversion of material and modules into the electronic format does not become a hindrance and challenge for them. Teachers using technology is a powerful tool for education and will have the following benefits:

Promote and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness
Engage students in exploring and solving real life issues from the digital world
Promote collaborative learning and conceptualization of solutions to problems.

Teachers will need to design and develop digital-age learning experiences and assessments. This will involve developing technology enriched learning environments that would enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress.

Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and EDUCAUSE have crafted a definition of “personalized learning” that rests on four pillars:

Each student should have a “learner profile” that documents his or her strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and goals;

Each student should pursue an individualized learning path that encourages him or her to set and manage personal academic goals;

Students should follow a “competency based progression” that focuses on their ability to demonstrate mastery of a topic, rather than seat time; and,

Students learning environments should be flexible and structured in ways that support their individual goals.

How does technology support this vision?

The only answer to this is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). BYOD helps in the following ways:

Allows teachers and software to deliver personalized content and lessons to students, while allowing students to learn at their own pace and ability level;

Helps students to become technologically skilled and literate and thus better prepared for modern workplaces;

Empowers students to do more complex and creative work by allowing them to use digital and online applications and tools;

Improves the administration and management of schools and classrooms by making it easier to gather information on what students know and have done;

Improves communication among students, teachers, and parents.
Keeping the strength in the mind, students must fit their curriculum around their interest and here is how this may be done:
Take part in learning and ask how we can impact the community or the society with the knowledge gained.
Give them choices on how to showcase their knowledge.
Let them be creative and innovative instead of telling them what to do. Our world today needs more innovative problem, solvers, so why not start in schools.
Give them a problem to solve, ask them to support their work with knowledge and let them develop a plan to solve the problem in any way they see fit. When we remove guidelines they will go beyond our expectations.
Start using skype in the classrooms to collaborate with students and teachers from other parts of the world.
Let them present their work to all the stakeholders directly and also publish it on Youtube, iTunes, and platforms like Cyber fair (globalschool.net).

Using the flipped classroom technique wherein teachers pod cast the lessons for children to hear it and stay updated is a great way to arouse curiosity sparks leading to high involvement and high engagement levels on the consecutive day. This helps in the understanding and assimilation of the lesson far better than the regular way.

Using social media channels like Twitter and Facebook gives wider range of audience and opinions to the students. Thus, meeting all the challenges of 21st century i.e. collaboration, communication and creative thinking. It is time that our teachers engage and integrate technology wherever feasible. With the added advantage of knowledge at one’s disposal, it has become absolutely important for the teacher to get the latest pedagogy in the class room. By bringing in social and economical issues of global concern on social media, we also make students digital citizens.

Gaming and gamification should be our next target. Gamification is a controversial topic that focuses on using game thinking and game mechanics to turn an otherwise mundane task into something engaging and perhaps even competitive. It involves implementing methods used in the development of games, but applying them to a real world scenario, such as a classroom.

Obviously, the classroom is primarily about learning, but engaging and motivating students can be a challenge and a bored student is far less likely to learn what the teacher is trying to teach. Perhaps gamifying the classroom might be a way to improve their engagement, productivity and enthusiasm for what the teacher has to say.

We are gradually changing the role of a teacher from an instructor or facilitator to a researcher. We are looking forward for the day when being a researcher is a normal part of classroom practice!

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