Education 4.0
Learning

Education 4.0: The Teacher as a Digital Learning Facilitator

The first part of this six part series (https://www.pennews.net/learning/2018/10/06/education-40-parents-role) covered how a parent can become a facilitator to a child’s explorative way of learning via a simple economics principle as the backdrop.

The second part of this six part series (https://www.pennews.net/learning/2018/11/03/education-4.0-the-child-as-a-self-learner) covered how a child can make use of the power of the internet and its cast contents and create an exploratory and engaging self-learning path for themselves.

In this article, let us look at how a teacher can make use of the contents in Digital World and transform them as facilitators of learning and current knowledge.

The world of digital content provides enough and more material than can be utilised as supplementary content to the traditional printed textbooks and teacher notes that are provided to a student. A challenge with text books is to keep it updated with the latest learning content. To a great extent, in the Indian context, this gap is being bridged by the Digital Class or Smart Class vendors, who equip the classrooms with audio visual content, mapped to the syllabus, and provide updated contents at frequent intervals.

In parallel, there is rapid explosion of content being created by educators, teachers, parents, students, and various education foundations, that are of very high quality, and can be used as supplementary content by the teachers.

Assignments can also be digitized, and many platforms do provide those capabilities; distribution, evaluation, and also analysis.

Sharing of content can happen via platforms like Google Classroom, Skype, and also WhatsApp. WhatsApp is now a very common media for teacher-student-parent communication, and also sharing of assignments and notes.

There is always a challenge associated with instant information. The rigour of content curation, and what is right for a student, could take a backseat, when that happens. Several of the contents on the internet are as such, and it is important that the teacher conducts evaluation of content, which would further aid the learning journey of a student.

So, the larger question arises of whether traditional textbooks can be eradicated? Or if we think one step further, can the classroom itself be done away with? That is a widely debatable topic, for which we do not have a definite answer yet. However there are pockets where such trends are happening; for example the home schooling segment, private tutor based segment, and open curriculum based learning frameworks.

Since this article is teacher centric, let us hear from 2 good teachers, with plenty of experience behind them, at the school level.

Internet and its impact on teaching by Rajesh CP, Science Teacher, Indus School, Andhra Pradesh

Everybody knows that internet is an ocean of information but, it is the most viable tool in the hands of a teacher for preparation and reference. As a science teacher I want to update my knowledge continuously to meet the requirements of my students. It is highly impossible to refer many books and collect that level of information.

At this juncture I wish to narrate my modus operandi in using the internet. If I have a subject to refer I would refer to the internet and browse various web sites and find the details. As my school is equipped with smart board facilities it is easy for me to copy and paste information to our data bank/ PPT and can be shown to the students.

  • It helped me prepare various social awareness programmes viz Energy Conservation, Water Conservation etc in the form of Mime Shows, Dramas, and Seminars etc.
  • During the process of teaching, often certain objects/ images are very difficult to explain, at that situation I would directly open the mobile data and show the images. Eg Blister Copper, Optical Fibre Cables, Ruby Red, Sapphire etc.
  • Visual aids are part and parcel of today’s teaching and learning process. Internet helped me download different videos, PPTs, Animations and GIF files to the students and I could see the element of surprise and anxiousness in their eyes; via animations of electric motor, dynamo, etc.
  • Internet was a must tool for the preparation of National Children Science Congress (NCSC) project report, which requires large volume data.
  • For the purpose of science fair exhibitions I would collect different innovative ideas and that helped me make different models and charts.

Even though these are very good supportive tools for the teacher, at the same time there are some drawbacks too. These days, teachers are replaced by virtual teachers and virtual class rooms. This shift will not have a proper impact on the development of behaviour and character of a child. By just watching a virtual teacher on a screen, it is not possible to grasp the knowledge, as it is only a one way interaction.

It also reduces the natural thinking ability of a teacher as it gives direct information; that is we are always depending on somebody’s brain rather than using our own.

Another potential danger is that teachers become lazy and non-creative if they are continuously exposed to the vastness of internet world. Their own creativity is suppressed.

Finally it is important to note that everything has its own boon and bane. But the intelligent man should use it cautiously and wisely.

Valsala Satyavathi, Science Teacher, TOCH School, Kochi

  • Yes, WhatsApp has been useful for class teachers in informing children about important announcements, deadlines, submissions, simple queries, informing about leave, etc.
  • Subject teachers have groups where doubts are cleared especially for those students on study leave.
  • It has been useful as children need not travel in this sultry weather and it helps other children too.
  • Lab experiments can be demonstrated and described stepwise prior to carrying them out.
  • I have used several videos from YouTube for concepts such as microarrays, tissue culture, karyotyping, fluorescence microscopy, X-ray diffraction, etc. Several references were made from NCBI, Edmodo, etc.
  • Simple project ideas were used from sites like http://www.sciencebuddies.org/.

There would be many other ways a teacher can use digital content, and in this short article it is very difficult to cover it all! But the above experiences, hopefully, will give the reader, a broad perspective, and a good idea on how the internet and digital content can be used effectively by a teacher.

In the next part of this series, let us take a look at how the community and local governance could possibly facilitate rapid and quality learning…

- Ullas Ponnadi, currently Director and CTO of GRAHIK LEARNING, an India-based Education & Learning Space Start-up, has been in the Engineering & IT Industry for the past 30 years, having worked in the USA and India at Wipro Technologies, CMC and HP; with a decade long experience of working with K12 schools, undergrad institutions, corporate training and its associated methodologies and pedagogical backdrops.