By Sreenarayanan P C, Director, Podar International School, Mumbai | www.podar.org
The digital system makes it much easier for students to develop the skills that they need to impart value to society. The students need to develop the original skills to solve all kinds of problems. In USA, lot of research has been done by universities to find out what employers are looking for these days. The main thing that they are looking for is that the future generation should be good communicators. If you have a good idea in your mind, but you are unable to communicate it effectively, then it is of no value.
So the students have to learn to think creatively, they must be able to challenge, debate, discuss, and be in a position to make all the crucial decisions. They should also have good planning and organisational skills, they should be able to teamwork. They have to be good at self management. Of course, they also need to be comfortable with using latest technology. It is our job to provide the technological and the educational materials that impart the student will all the necessary skills.
Equipping the 21st century learner
To equip today’s learner with necessary skills we need to equip our curriculum with 21st century technology. How do you do that? How do you incorporate today’s technology into the curriculum? This is the biggest challenge that we have. At Podar International School, we have managed to address some of these challenges. Few years ago, we replaced our blackboards with overhead projectors. We actually used to write transparencies, which could then be used for teaching in classrooms.
From transparencies we moved to having TV and computers in class. After that we moved on to flat screen computers. Then came the interactive boards. Now we have students using laptops and iPads in schools. I am of the opinion that the iPad can prove to be a very valuable educational tool. But to make transition from the blackboards to the iPad, we need to have teachers who are adequately trained in the ways of using technology.
Of course, the modern digital technology also makes it imperative for schools to make changes in the curriculum. The scope of education becomes much broader. Along with the teachers, the parents too need to be trained so that the child has access to best digital interfaces at school and at home. Digital technologies do result in distinct improvement in the quality of education that is being offered. We actually conducted a short-term experiment with two groups of students. One group was provided iPad, and the other was not. The performance of the students with iPads was much better.