Digital Age: Creating a dent in Classroom Teaching

By: Admin 31 October, 2018

Let’s read the following sentences about our Digital Life.

Shopped on Amazon in the last one month;
Hailed an Uber to work or shared an Ola;
Viewed Khan Academy video or a YouTube tutorial;
Paid at the Big Basket using Paytm;
Unexpected guest. Ordered on Zomato or Swiggy;
How many did you answer yes to? Maybe the apps changed, but the answer remains the same.
 
Smitha’s Dilemma
We live in times we our lives are visually under digital arrest. Take the case of young Smitha. She’s an aspiring teenager who wants to be a journalist. Smitha reads her news feed from In Shorts, keeps in touch with fellow journalists on Twitter using her handle @smithanews and a blog on WordPress to report her news. Then one day she lost her iPhone and thought it is a newsworthy reporting but didn't know where to tweet the information!
Are we making more Smithas at school or are our students empowered to be masters of technology and not its slave? So the key question that we need to ask ourselves is can we keep our schools and our learners equipped enough to face the all-encompassing online world?
 
To understand the impact of cyberspace in a young learner's world, we look at three aspects to which the changes it brings would be most visible and immediate. 
a)    Communication
b)    Lifestyle
c)     Learning
a.    Communication:
From Facebook friends to WhatsApp group, the messages sent have not only changed medium but also the language.
Decode this – “ROFL” . If this appears Greek to you, then so be it. Rome has collapsed and so has the language etiquette with it. Our young learners talk brief but have long chats. They want an easy life but want to party hard. By The Way, if you are still curious, the above message means “Rolling on the floor laughing.”
b.    Lifestyle:
c)     Learning
 
a.    Communication:
From Facebook friends to WhatsApp group, the messages sent have not only changed medium but also the language.
Decode this – “ROFL” . If this appears Greek to you, then so be it. Rome has collapsed and so has the language etiquette with it. Our young learners talk brief but have long chats. They want an easy life but want to party hard. By The Way, if you are still curious, the above message means “Rolling on the floor laughing.”
 
b.    Lifestyle:
Shopping is no more about hard bargaining skills as much as it is to find the best deals online. From mobiles to nail polish, everything is on Amazon. Today's rainforest of youth is not vines hanging from trees but cables that provide WiFi. The lifestyle has seen a dramatic shift. You book an Uber, order food from Swiggy's and watch movies on Netflix. If these don't impress you, then there are another dose alternatives. From Ola, Zomato to Prime. 
 
c.    Learning:
56 percent of children, aged 8 to 12, have their own cellphone. (NATIONAL CONSUMERS LEAGUE)
My daughter, all of three years only, commands Google with the magic words - Peppa Pig. Lo! and behold, YouTube opens with a range of piggy videos for her to view. She hasn't even comprehended her letters yet.
Online universities like Cousera and coaching classes like the popular Khan Academy have challenged the notion of brick and mortar institutions. Everyday more apps are falling on the app highway to grab a piece of student's mind, but this has also lead to the increase of cyber bullying.
 
New opportunities
The benefits of this Digital Age are immense if we are open to ideas. Digital gateways have opened new challenges but also immense potential.
 
1. For one, there would be digital footprints everywhere. This calls for greater transparency. Reviews will determine credibility. Fly by night operators or those with no real credibility will not survive long.
2. This would also provide means for schools to perform a reality check. An audit of the gap between the student’s learning and the appropriate environment provided for enabling learners would help them determine the best for their students.
3. Technology integration is not a surface learning idea anymore, but a means to implement digital literacy. Educational Technology is now a deep rooted concept that needs a thorough process, complete with theory and trainings.
4. Teachers would have to be more social media savvy for the implementation of blended learning. It would not suffice anymore to have an excuse of age or experience and shield away from the digital world. Twitter is beckoning and there are great teachers to follow. 
5. Computer labs stuffed with PCs are now a thing of past. Schools need Wifi enabled classroom and interactive walls. Well, payment by Kiosks still have some time, but beware in this digital world, things are moving very fast!
 
Let’s embrace the new world of binary codes. Our students are indeed Digital Natives but instead of being Perennial Digital immigrants, let’s get ourselves visas and enter their zones.
 
Cushion the Digital Tools
Apps are a part of our life as much as skipping breakfast is. It is a morning ritual and a bedtime routine. There is no escaping it. So here are a few points for educators and young learners to shield themselves from the digital world:
i. World of Activities - We did a blog on puzzles and board games. Find out your kids interest and buy one board a month. Have an exchange club with some close families. Try out our specials from the Battlefield, Scotland Yard and Apples to Apples.
ii. Cycle your way to Health & Freedom - There is no better joy than riding on a cycle. A cycle can bring joy to you as you navigate the by-lanes. It also creates great bonds between parents and children.
iii. Alternatives also include evening walks, jogging routines or driving to new places every week. Let the kids find a new place. It need not be malls or market places but a simple lake side or a new unexplored garden.
iv. Painting - Colours bring joy. Grab that palette and some brushes. Drop in Faber-Castle and find a wall for the graffiti artist in you. Your child is bound to follow.
v. Build a home library - You can stack up your Sports magazines to latest Tinkles. The idea is to have something you and your kids can grab together.This could be a book corner at the classroom or a family reading routine. Make a group where everyone posts the latest pictures of the new book they are reading. There is no better use of peer pressure! 
 
Technology is Great. Yes true. We are all for tech and gadgets. Just that we need to learn how to effectively use them.
 
Have Skype session with students from other nations.
Use Pinterest to share your projects and quotes.
Watch a TED talk as a part of classroom learning.
Technology can surely add great value to our learning. 
 
 
 
Author: Mr. Dawood Vaid