“Why do we need ICT in schools? Was education not happening before computers came into existence? Why is this necessary?” Questions, I often encounter from teachers during workshops.
Another question I often hear teachers who are unwilling to take the ICT plunge voicing is, ‘Can the student learn anything without the teacher explaining or intervening?’
And I know, I have to sort out their ideological conflict first!
Unfortunately, ICT is largely associated with the use of computer and Internet in India. What one uses ICT for and how one uses it, is not addressed sufficiently. Schools and colleges acquire computers, Internet connection, LCD projectors and then send their teachers for crash courses that supposedly teach them to use technology. The trouble is this whole approach is devoid of focus. But, until teachers are made to realize the need of ICT, nothing can help.
What is ICT supposed to be used for in the class?
Training a teacher in using ICT is more crucial than acquiring a large number of computers. Teachers have to be trained to facilitate the learning process, make the process real, achievable, challenging, yet exciting and not intimidating. Reducing teacher talk (this is very very difficult to achieve) and encouraging student discussion (only a handful of teachers allow this!) is extremely important. Many teachers still think the computer is used only to make the content look attractive! Hence, what they need is to know that in 21 st century, information is not difficult access; instead organizing, sharing, and collaborating become essential skills. Hence, ICT is not merely to portray information but to interact, share, and thus learn. ICT provides meaningful, absorbing media that makes teaching-learning more productive.
The Internet is full of information, textbooks are bursting with information. But this information can become true knowledge only when the teacher makes it meaningful. I would rather say, a teacher should guide initially and then make the students capable to wade through a flood of the information, sift through it and pick up only what is required to synthesize and create based on this information independently.
When we talk of actual classroom applications of ICT, there can never be really something as a comprehensive list. Because as you use them, you reflect on them; you get better ideas for next application. And that’s the beauty of it too. It allows so much freedom in approaching the same thing and makes the learning process interesting and unique (and the teacher too!).
Here the teacher can use multimedia to make topics more comprehensible AND INTERDISCIPLINARY. Think of a teacher showing large number of different flowers while reading out a poem on flowers, or while teaching about the parts of a flower just zip to the wonderful poem ‘daffodils’ and ask to classify it!. Talking about the freedom struggle or any historical event in the history textbook is one thing and seeing a short video (length of the video should be essentially suitable to the age group based on psychological principles) on the same topic is altogether different. Teach them to reflect on the events, link it with proper context, let them add ‘resources’, places, people, events related , discuss the impact today. Preaching about rain water harvesting and showing a clipping while teaching is different. Let them come up with their own ideas in the next class, better take it up as a project. Hands-on, live. Showing how bunding is done, and then applying it in the school / personal garden and its record of being better can not only be a comprehensive Nature Club project, but a foray into scientific thought. The processing of crude oil into refined, gives students the correct idea of the industry and the different aspects of industry. An innovative teacher could link it with political science and economics as well! Make them write blogs on each of this.
Instead of boring the students with a decade old chart on the excretory system, showing a video during teaching takes the students to a different level of understanding. Top it with discussions on transplants, need of transplants, laws related to it and lo, you have had a fulfilling class with eager, brains looking forward to the next.
Listening to the voice of Rabindranath Tagore (Or any other author) while reading his stories, poems will help the students associate with the author. This sort of association will be an enriching experience not only for the students but for the teachers as well because such associations do take the subject and the teaching to another level altogether! Teachers should encourage students to search for such videos and add to it and not just depend upon the ready-made commercial solutions available for the same. The list is endless, really.
The entire teaching-learning process gets a boost with the appropriate use of ICT, filling the inadequacies that the teacher is facing. The problem of large numbers; disinterested students can be tackled to an extent too. Can you take a step forward to use ICT to make learning rather than teaching more meaningful and interesting ?