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Gone are the days of hot classrooms and dusty benches. They have been replaced with air conditioned and coloured rooms with audio visual teaching aids. Use of technology in the learning process makes learning more interactive and effective because of its multi-sensory nature . Multi sensory learning transcends all other modes of learning as it involves children in a more wholesome way. The schools these days have the option of using a lot of new teaching materials and amenities that make learning easy and simple. The aim of the schools in the past was to equip the children with adequate knowledge. The ambitions and aspirations of students in the present era are different of those in the past.
"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday, we rob them of tomorrow". How true these words of John Dewey are in modern scenario! A million dollar question that arises is - how should education be structured to meet the needs of students in the 21st century world?
We still follow the traditional pen and paper based teacher centred education system. The curriculum is fragmented; students work in isolation and memorize the facts irrespective of their application in their real life situation. But we need to come out of these time based schools into outcome based education system. We need to transform pedagogy.
There has been an upsurge of technologies for classroom teaching. Evolution of classrooms from overhead projectors to computers, interactive boards, digital learning to the world of tablets, ubislates and iPads is mind boggling. Technology is connecting people across the globe, opening new vistas of learning opportunities with organizations easily adapting to technology enabled education.
In this highly competitive techno-savvy world, it is time for schools not only to accentuate the adoption of technology, but also to ensure that the faculty is equipped to handle accelerated change.
CRITICAL ISSUE is how to go about making school a tech -enabled institution? The enormous range of tech solutions for learning offered by companies in education leaves the head of every organization bewildered as what to choose and how. It has become an intricate process with every vendor claiming to be better than the other. The customer is swayed by offers in every respect; be it hardware, software, services or training support.
Integration of technology into school curriculum is aimed at transforming the teaching-learning process for better outcomes. It is, therefore, crucial to appreciate that every teacher needs to be trained, not only to incorporate technology into daily classroom teaching, but also for what technology to use where and when.
CONSTITUTING A TECHNOLOGY PLANNING COMMITTEE enables the successful implementation of a technology integration plan and smooth transition for the organization as a whole. To constitute this technology, first of all, individuals are to be identified who are passionate about technology, who are team players and leaders with good communication skills and who are themselves techno-savvy and adaptable to changing perspectives. IT heads , librarians, academic coordinators and parent representatives preferably with technology knowledge are ideal. The chair of the committee should have task management, comprehensive evaluation, monitoring and mentoring skills.
ROLE OF THE COMMITTEE
Creating a master technology plan for the school on the basis of assessment of current data and analysis of tech support required for education.
Identify the right kind of classroom technology solution for the school by addressing issues of quality versus cost, quality of content, tech tools and services provided.
Maximising returns on investment by success of technology introduction for quality education and sustainable infrastructure with prompt services and repair and maintenance.
EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY PLAN
Every school needs to have a master education technology plan that should focus on:-
Objectives of implementing a technology programme.
Impacts of integrating technology.
Capital and recurring financial liabilities
Services of Investment
Programmes for professional training of staff
Measures for assessing the effectiveness of the programme.
Structured designs for regular updates and maintenance.
Role and responsibilities of all involved in the programme.
To mobilize transformational plans we need to break free of our traditional and institutionalized way of thinking, to think more creatively and to innovate more fitting solutions to the educational needs for the future. Secondly, we need belief that everyone of us can bring about transformation. We need to ensure that we do not embody old and outmoded practices in bricks and mortar, glass and steel but that rather we build in pedagogies and practices appropriate for 21st century learning. We have to rethink what a learning space is who learns there, who are the teachers, mentors and support staff. We need to challenge what is learnt and by whom, when, where and how? And we need to consider how new developments and technologies present new opportunities for new learning.
Technology needs to be integrated especially into the curriculum as a priority not as a separate subject or as a once- in- a- while project, but as a tool to promote and extend students' learning on a daily basis. It will offer teachers new instructional opportunities - from whole class instructions to small group learning environments as well as change from passive learning to more engaged learning. It will increase efficiency and expand capabilities for teachers and also stimulate students while preparing them for their entrance into the professional world.
Besides this educational committees and commissions require to explore and experiment both on the local as well as global level. Keeping this in view the education leaders and policy makers should design and implement the curriculum that involves the most recent technologies and strategies.
USAGE AND BENEFITS
Technology tools for content usage should be user-friendly for easy integration into the classroom teaching. A teacher's freedom to conduct the class shouldn't be restricted. Tech tools should facilitate the delivery mechanism, recapitulation and the multiple learning outcomes assessment methodologies. Maintenance of hardware should be easy and cost effective.
Service support of the company should be strong enough to ensure the continuity of all functions of education technology. In addition, designated HR support to address day- to- day issues of technology operations should be part of the support system of the company.
Investing in technology for teaching-learning is justified only if the teachers can use technology as a tool to improve learning outcomes. Effective integration of technology is like oxygen for quality education of the 21st century. Technology is a vital tool to support efficient curriculum instructions, creates engaging learning environments, interactive teaching methodologies and multiple ways of assessments. Teacher training is , therefore, very essential so that teachers use technology tools to develop skills of problem solving, critical thinking and analytical skills, apart from comprehension and synthesis of ideas leading to creativity through collaboration and communication. Training should focus on how the teacher as a pedagogy and content expert can employ technology tools and software to enhance learning of students while facilitating the delivery mechanism.
Implementation of technology can empower an institution through e-education and e-governance. Multiple benefits are:
Professional development of faculty
Enrichment of learning resource centres
Creating learning environments for development of 21st century skills
Student- centred learning i.e. individual learning styles
Supports the constructivist approach to learning styles
Helps the administration in case of absenteeism/being on leave or non-availability of a specific teaching faculty
Supports admin and accounts through school management solutions
We stand on the threshold of a pedagogical and technological revolution with profound and far reaching consequences for education and training. The alignment between new pedagogies and new technologies is the single most important factor for optimal performance in any organization as well as the key challenge for those seeking to develop 21st century teaching and learning. In case of schools, it is clear that the possibility of significant and sustained improvement is doubtful without systematically dovetailing the two.
Many organizations and schools are yet to develop the appropriate new pedagogies for realizing the potential of technology. The following equations capture the problem of the relationship between emerging pedagogies , new technological tools in ICT and new technology areas.
Old Pedagogy + old technology = low performance improvement
Old Pedagogy + new technology = mild performance improvement
New Pedagogy + old technology = mild performance improvement
New Pedagogy + new technology = high performance improvement
Strategies that have succeeded in aligning new pedagogies and new technologies for performance improvement are not the norm in the most organizational settings, with some new technologies simply being used to enliven old pedagogies. Learning technology can simply transfer old pedagogies to an electronic medium, even if old pedagogies such as student-centred learning dating back to the Renaissance are given a contemporary spin.
Pedagogy and technology have developed with a considerable degree of independence from each other. These two bodies of knowledge have been generated by distinct professions with independent traditions, notwithstanding the fact that many educators and classroom teachers are at the forefront of synergistically integrating the two.
The relationship between pedagogical and technological change is, however, becoming more intimate. The emerging pedagogy technology of structured dialogue is both a cause and a consequence of this new intimacy. Future advances in dialogue, with implications for performance and problem solving in all organizations, will combine new pedagogies and technologies in subtle and ingenious ways.
But pedagogical change is overshadowed by an over- emphasis on technological change. There is still too little inter-disciplinary research which has examined the potential of new technologies to support a genuinely new pedagogy.
This has also been felt that there are two major challenges - providing quality infrastructure and trained teachers. While the former is perhaps a function of budget allocations and proper implementation, the second is herculean challenge as almost all research indicates that the capability of most in service teachers is miserably below par. And it is here that carefully chosen new education technologies implemented with intelligence and judgment can provide workable solutions.
However, the plain truth is that the choice and application of new education technologies in terms of teaching aids and learning resources,though well intentioned has been random at best, and lopsided at worst, resulting in squandering of precious resources. There is an irrational belief that the mere implementation of ICT (Information Communications Technology) will instantly improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Certainly, there is no doubt that in ideal conditions, a combination of interactive white boards, tablets and computer labs with quality content can make a huge difference. But in contemporary this utopian premise fails on several counts. Among them, infrastructure deficiencies-electricity, internet penetration, bandwidth availability and most of all , lack of awareness and inadequate training invested in teachers and students. Even if these problems were somehow to be magically resolved, India just does not have the financial resources required to implement such solutions uniformly in 1.30 million schools.
But investment in technology is an investment for the better future of our children. Technology is the live wire and we the educators, need to cater to the learning style of kids of the new millennium who are growing up with mobile phones, iPads, iPods and the internet. They are very techno-savvy and have excellent navigation skills. They multitask, have inquisitive minds, share learning experiences and are team players and leaders as well. We must, therefore, adapt to their needs, and identify new learning models that can engage them in a meaningful way.
Keeping in line with the emerging trends of 21st century education, Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation, an initiative by CBSE, is a welcome measure. The paradigm shift in pedagogy, competencies and skills is evident in the new framework of education that is characterized by flexibility and experimental learning. As educators, it is essential for us to understand that how technology should be used in pedagogy. It is neither a separate subject nor support for a core subject project. Technology, when used effectively can be a magic wand in the hands of teachers for effective learning. The challenge, therefore, lies in planning strategies to integrate technology into our daily classroom routine. This calls for serious deliberation on how to plan, implement and deliver it effectively. Since our students belong to the digital world, technology can be used as an effective pedagogy tool. Our perception of looking at technology as a tool for transforming vision into reality is focused on four pillars of pedagogy - CURRICULUM , LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS, TEACHING STRATEGIES AND ASSESSMENTS.
TECHNOLOGY AS A TOOL FOR CURRICULUM
Training the faculty to use tools to enhance delivery mechanisms, enriching learning support, flexibility of curriculum handling and time management to complete the teaching assignments encourages them to learn and use it better.
TECHNOLOGY FOR LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
Localized to global connectivity provides a platform of sharing of knowledge, exchange of ideas and learning widens the horizons of learning beyond the four walls of a classroom. Interactive learning that is self-paced , self-directed, self-motivating and self-assessed does help the slow or shy performers to improve their performance. This does need individual systems but helps individuals tremendously.
TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION INTO TEACHING STRATEGIES
This is the crux of whole process of promoting classroom technologies. As a content knowledge expert, the teacher needs to use the technology to deliver the content that should cater to individual learning styles of students in a class. Therefore how technology as a tool helps in inter-disciplinary, interactive and innovative approach concepts need to be demonstrated. How a simple interactive white board built in tools can change the delivery of the content needs to be promoted among teachers. How creatively the teachers can change the learning environments is the challenge of training for technology enabled education.
TECHNOLOGY FOR ASSESSMENTS
Assessment of teaching process forms the basis for continuous evaluation of effectiveness of our approaches for imparting the knowledge and skills of understanding, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and creativity. Training on how technology can do it individually, groups or collectively needs to be imparted.
Training for promoting technology into classroom teaching should have specific goals. They should be simple and related to the learning outcomes as expected by the content experts. Clarity of the content knowledge by the faculty as to what is to be taught and how much at a level is always the prerogative of the content expert. Instructional methodologies as the backbone of developing skills of competency and knowledge need greater stress while training. Training has to be continuous process whether face to face or carry on with virtual systems. Above all remains the collaborative approach for technology by the faculty as a team not only within the system but also beyond the boundaries that will yield results par excellence in education.
Quality education is the best gift we can give to our children for ensuring a better future in a rapidly changing world economy, owing to a technological revolution. Investments in education, therefore, will give us the highest dividends for decades to come and future generations will look back with gratitude to the 21st century struggle by educators.
But let us be clear that no technology can replace good teachers. And no under-performers will transform into superb achievers just by bringing in tech teaching in classrooms. Technology, is a tool to be used effectively by teachers to facilitate student-centered learning. As teachers, we must go ahead to unlearn whatever is redundant , learn whatever is desired, and relearn if required on an ongoing basis without fail. Investment in technology is an investment for the better future of our children. Technology can give results only when it is used effectively as a tool by teachers. No tool by itself is an excellent device unless experimented with and validated by the user, in this case, the TEACHER.