Digital learning has more to do with the right combination of digital platforms, digital content as well as instructional design. The combo has the potential of transforming the education system in India. Ms Sindhu Aven, Head of Academics, Zee Learn Ltd, delves into a digital laboratory
Digital learning is defined as any classroom practice that effectively involves technology to build up to a student’s learning experience in an interactive and fun manner. Digital learning can serve as a great strategy for quality improvement and adding the fun element in education. However, digital learning is not just about providing computer access to the students; it has more to do with the right combination of digital platforms, digital content as well as instructional design. It has the potential of transforming the education system in India, where the quality of instruction and classroom delivery varies immensely from area to area.
Zee Learn has been an early adopter of digital learning. We have been observant and stringent about the extent of digital content being introduced into our classrooms. In Kidzee (our chain of preschools), we have been cautious about maintaining a balance between the developmental needs of the children and the amount of digital exposure. This has been done keeping in mind the sea change in the media habits of children. We, as educators, need to ensure that digital media is used as a medium of learning rather than a medium of entertainment in our classrooms. In Kidzee, we identified that the most effective manner for introducing digital learning would be through tablet applications and audio visuals. Our tablet applications, aim at helping children develop and enhance their fine motor skills (of tapping, swiping, and dragging) along with their cognitive and reasoning skills. They provide interactive and exploratory learning opportunities through the medium of games. Apart from the tablet applications, we actively use audio visuals as a digital medium for learning. These audio visuals aim at covering educational topics through interesting story-based plots.
Similarly in Mount Litera Zee schools, we cater to the digital needs of the primary, secondary, and higher secondary grades. As a part of our school system we promote blended learning. This, as a learning model, promotes the use of interactive whiteboards. These are used to present audio-visuals as well as interactive content in our classrooms. The audio visuals cover educational content through short interesting animations, whereas the interactive content incorporates game-based learning. We also have English digital language labs which promote learning through the medium of technology. The interactive programs in the English digital language lab help the students understand and reflect on their grammar, pronunciation, listening and speaking skills. We also encourage the use of social media in co-scholastic areas. For example, online competitions for photography and short-story writing are held on social media platforms as a part of the Mount Litera Olympiad. Adding to the above, we also have an innovative Digital Citizenship Program that enables our students to understand the right and safe way of using the internet. The students are introduced to the topics of netiquettes, cyber bullying, online safety, privacy, copyright and plagiarism, etc. through this program. Hence, apart from exposing our students to digital learning, we also help them become responsible digital citizens.
As can be seen, digital learning plays a crucial role in both scholastic as well as co-scholastic aspects of education in our schools. So, even though there is an increase of digital learning tools and platforms, we must understand that it is crucial for us to focus on the responsible usage of technology in our schools. We must be aware that the consequences of overexposure to technology are serious, and it is important for us to strike a fine balance. While technology can be a game changer, we should not look at it as a solution for lack of trained teachers or parental involvement. Digital learning complements the involvement of parents and teachers in the student learning process.