Anita Bir, Principal, RN Podar School, in conversation with Rachita Jha on her perspective of technology in school education
What will be the new avatar of schools in the digital age?
Children today are digital natives and we have to keep pace with them; we have to bridge the digital divide
Children today are digital natives and we have to keep pace with them; we have to bridge the digital divide – it is a necessity today for schools to be equipped and not be intimidated by technology. Moreover,n the country today needs to address the availability of quality education to a large number of children distributed across urban and rural areas-and this can only be possible using technology as one of the solutions. The availability of teachers, especially good teachers is a major problem in schools, and to resolve this difficulty, distance education will be the way forward for school education in India, and technologies such as Skype and video-conferencing can be viable solutions for them. Our approach towards brining technology to schools is also gaining much recognition amongst students and parent. This shows that the school is making an effort to keep pace with the latest teaching and learning aids, in addition to creating a collaborative learning environment. Also, a disconnect and barrier that the child faces when he or she compares school to the home is broken, when he uses similar social networking or technology applications for connecting with classmates and teachers in the school itself. Technology, Internet and digital medium are the only way forward for schools to be in sync with the technology age.
How do you ensure the effective use of interactive boards in your
We were the first schools to introduce interactive boards in all our classrooms
way back in 2006. And initially when we brought-in this technology, it got
the students excited but the teachers were apprehensive on being equipped to
teach using a tech tool. We then created a group of seniors students, who provided hand-holding for the teachers and this created a new wave of collaborative learning between the teachers and the taught. This introduced the teachers to the world of technology and created interest even among subject teachers in languages such as Hindi and Sanskrit to use the software. So, the introduction of the interactive boards also taught us of the various ways that the teachers and students can integrate technology in schools effectively. Not every teacher is aware of the interactive boards and, therefore, when we induct new teachers, we ensure that they undergo an in-depth orientation programme on the software and how it is used in the classrooms.
How can Facebook and other social networking sites be used for
schools and support teaching and learning?
We have created an appetite for brining in latest technologies in schools in the minds of teachers and students alike. We don’t content ourselves with a single technology platform that we adopted few years ago. We have tried to constantly adapt and keep pace with the new technological advancements that are taking place. Keeping this in mind, lately we have started with our Facebook initiative, which has proved to be a huge success. It was more a social platform for interaction. We then planned to extend the experience into the classroom and experimented with Google docs and cloud computing. Each classroom created Google accounts for the students and parents and a sharing platform was created for all parentteacher and teacher-student interaction and information sharing. Today, we have 3000 parents with email accounts and
are part of the school cloud ecosystem. So it’s not just the school but also the parents who are using the platform to interact with oth er teachers. The connectivity with students and parents has become much closer and faster using the Google groups and docs applications.
How can a school nurture employ ability skills in students to help in
We realised early that it is not enough to give school students academic skills;
they need to have life skills. They should develop the ability to think and have
an opinion and express their views. Planting the seeds of thought is very important. They have to learn the adaptive skills. The jobs that are coming up today are not what the schools could have prepared the students for, so we
as a school aim to build the adaptability skills so they are ready to take on anything new in life. I think the real world is coming to schools and technology
has helped us prepare students for the future work environment.
Tell us your views on the steps taken by CBSE to create a progressive
As a step forward in this regard, CBSE has now introduced a number of vocational courses to orient the students on the various opportunities that lie ahead of them. Another initiative is introduction of technology tools to get school education related data for all CBSE and other remote schools in India. We now do a Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) in which the Board evaluates the child over a period of time, this data is then sent to the Board electronically and the Board prints the report card for each student based on continuous performance and not just one final examination.
What are your recommendations for the planning commission with
respect to school education?
We are talking about a young India; this young India should be educated. And if
we have to educate such large number of children in the scenario of paucity of teachers, school infrastructure, and books, we have to harness technology to
make education for all a reality. And distance education will play a critical role
in this. The government should therefore have more planning and investments laid out for distance education to reach to larger sections of society that are yet to avail the benefits of quality education.
Tell us how do you plan to leverage technology in your school in
Open source applications such as Google apps and Google docs have proved as a
major boon to us. As a school, we have always believed in transparency in sharing information; and Google application is just an extension of that. It helps us to connect with our teachers, students and parents on one platform. As knowledge expands only by sharing, this platform has set in a new culture of collaborative learning using Google doc ecosystem for teachers, students and parents to benefit. \\