My three-year-old son taught himself the English alphabet by playing on the computer with CDs from a company called Jump Start. By the time he toddled his way to the first class, he could actually read the notice board at school. Not only could he read the number plates on cars, but could do basic additions. He is not a genius.
This is the power of technology as a tool in making education challenging and fun.
Technology can be a powerful aid in teaching. This is something that everyone realises. Schools and institutions are working towards adopting teaching platforms enabled by technology.
Teaching has also diversified and crept out of classrooms when necessary. We now have more informal methods like distant education and online classes, all of which have succeeded by using technology to further their reach and broaden their scope.
What does technology in teaching imply?
When we talk about education technology, we have to consider two aspects: the hardware and the software.
We also have to consider where the teaching is taking place: classroom or online (virtual classroom).
The basic necessities would be:
Computer: a laptop or a desktop.
Monitor: The size of the monitor should be suitable to view the material comfortably without straining the eyes. This depends on how the class is being conducted.
- Does each student have access to a personal desktop or laptop?
- Is the lesson going to be viewed on a common monitor?
- Will the lesson be projected onto a screen?
Webcam or an inbuilt laptop camera
Printers and scanners – printouts and copies of notes are sometimes necessary.
Microphone, speakers, and headset: The theory is that by placing speakers such that the lesson penetrates the entire classroom, even stragglers at the back can be reached and engaged, or at the very least, woken from their daydreams!
The possibility of using mobile devices like smartphones successfully, to teach in a country like India, can cause a revolution in education as mobile networks reach the remotest parts and greater numbers get smartphone savvy. iPads, iTouch, and MP3 players may not be a means of mass education but are certainly teaching aids that can be used wherever accessible.
Pen drives to transfer lessons from computer to computer or to a computer attached to a printer.
For online teaching at schools, study centres or institutions which provide special tutorials and coaching, beaming classes via satellite may entail VSAT. This will require a satellite dish. The cost of such infrastructure has to be a consideration.
And last, but not least, internet connectivity is an absolute necessity.
The very basic tools that teachers need to get ‘tech-savvy’ are Microsoft Office and Powerpoint. They must also know how to use the internet, how to log on and log-off.
Designing effective educational software needs to be a marriage of the technical with the educational: the software designer must know what works as well as how to work it.
Educational Resource Planning (ERP) softwares not only address teaching but administrative needs like scheduling of classes, budget allocation and uninterrupted communication with students and parents/guardians through emails, phone calls, SMS, etc.
Effective software can also prevent students who cannot keep up or are negligent from ‘falling through the cracks.’ For example: entering marks into data sheets can be interpreted into performance graphs which give you a pictorial representation of performance at a glance. You cannot improve what you are not aware of. These ERP tools can be of great help in creating this awareness.
Technology and education: a broad view
In a country as vast, diverse and widespread like India, extensive use of technology can revolutionise education. Computer-based teaching and learning can be well designed not just to beam lessons into the humblest and remotest parts, but to track the progress of learners and even evaluate by conducting exams.
Language should not be a hurdle. This is particularly important in the multilingual climate of India.
Technology can be adopted and adapted to live as well as recorded classes. Of course, this makes broadband connectivity imperative.
Choose your weapons wisely
Many hardware and software tools are available. Teachers and managements are advised to make an educated choice in the methods they want to adopt. Each programme is different depending on the profile of the class: what works in the city may not work in a remote village.
It is also advisable to keep track of innovations in the field to make the best choices.
Educational technology is here to stay. Teachers need to be trained in the use of both hardware and software. Of course, there is always the initial mistrust of learning technology, maybe even a feeling of inadequacy. But teachers have to be encouraged to get ‘tech-savvy’, or they will soon be marginalised.
At TalentSprint, we have always been at the forefront of educational technology with the best of learning programs and e-talented faculty. Online lessons which include videos, live sessions, and interaction with students and faculty, e-books, etc. are just some arrows in our quiver.
You can carry your classroom in your pocket with a pen drive. No internet is necessary.
Problems accessing a computer or the internet are overcome with TalentSprint’s digital centres where peers can interact with each other and explore more advanced teaching.
Education gives you wings. Technology is the wind beneath them to give you the lift.