Learner – centric approach: quintessential method for effective teaching – learning environment

manoj

The pragmatic shift in the education system as a whole is now spurting all over. With the changes in the curriculum, experiential learning, practical learning and deep learning is the need of the hour. We are pacing towards an advanced ecosystem of school education with an intervention of technology. To explore further, Sheeba Chauhan of Elets News Network interacted with Dr. Manoj Kumar Choudhury, Principal, Kaziranga English Academy, Guwahati. Edited excerpts:

The latest trends in education like deep learning, problem-solving and innovation and collaborative learning are continually being incorporated into educational methods. What is your opinion on the same?

The incorporation of the aforementioned techniques in teaching allows the learners to take ownership in their learning resulting in optimised academic excellence. It makes the learners intrinsically motivated and highly curious about the subject. Such an approach engages the hearts and minds of learners enabling better concept retention, and promotion of critical learning and managerial skills. They try to formulate their own knowledge by making connections between existing and new knowledge. In the collaborative problem-solving learning approach, the learners discuss diversified ideas put forward by the learners of the group resulting in a deep understanding of the subject matter that leads to the generation of innovative solutions.

Hybrid Learning is somewhere reducing the role of teachers in students’ growth. Do you think the introduction of technology in the education landscape can completely erase the existence of teachers?

The evolution of hybrid learning has immensely influenced the existing teaching-learning environment. The paradigm shifts from ‘chalk and talk’ to the world of technology envisioned by the NEP 2020 is indeed a great step. The incorporation of modern technology and digital tools will do justice to each and every learner as the teacher can easily customise the curriculum as per the specific needs of the target group of learners, thereby providing a more holistic approach to education. Technology, if used judiciously, helps learners with easy access to limitless sources of information, and a large number of varied contents of learning – making them more judicious and self-dependent. The students are so engaged that they expand their horizons of knowledge with much satisfaction. This educational genre gives students exposure to critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, concept maps, problem-solving, role-playing, gamification, selfdirection, storytelling, etc. – thereby preparing our student folk for college, career and life. Moreover, digital learning with its greater flexibility of learning enables students to cope up with the requisite learning needs.

Nevertheless, there is a lot more that goes into teaching than just subject-related information through technology. The experience of the teacher, proper guidance to handle different tools, the soft issues like values and morals etc. are quintessential for an effective teaching-learning environment. It has been observed during the Covid period that the unlimited flexibility, misuse of technology, and lack of proper monitoring have impacted many learners in a negative way. So, it is evident that technology cannot replace or erase the existence of teachers but equip them to ensure standardisation, speed of upgraded information and access to global learning. A teacher, with the help of technology, can lead, guide, facilitate and mentor a student. Apart from being a facilitator of learning, a teacher acts as a guidance counsellor and motivator. They provide much-needed emotional support to the learners, customise the instruction materials according to the need of the learners, and manage classrooms.

The curriculum framework deepens the thought process and easy planning. Tell us about the innovative curriculum you have following in your school.

For effective teaching-learning, a teacher should capture each learner’s attention and transmit ideas and concepts skillfully so that the learners can retain a lasting impression. For the same, it is imperative to deploy innovative tactics for the successful dissemination of the curriculum. The use of varied audio-visual aids, real-life/world learning, creative teaching techniques like brainstorming, role play, story-telling, buzz session, teamwork, games and puzzles, classes outside the classrooms etc. help us motivate the learners resulting in fruitful concept-based learning.

The curriculum practices at your school are learner-centric. Do you think a learning-centric approach is the best way to reach students for teaching?

In contrast to the ‘Sage on the Stage’ approach, the learner-centric approach transforms the teacher from the ‘giver of information into a ‘facilitator’ or ‘manager’ in the classroom, where the learner is more active to solve problems, formulate and answer questions of their own, discuss with a peer in the group, explain debate, or brainstorm. In order to tune with the current scenario, it is imperative that learners are prepared in such a way that they become problem solvers, decision-makers and skilled in all the 21st-century hot skills; and for this comprehensive solution, the said approach proves extremely fruitful. The learner-centric approach helps us to attain increased motivation on the part of the learners which paves the way for greater academic achievement.

India has the second-largest market for online education. According to the recent National Achievement Survey, there is a decline in learning levels. Do you consider digital transformation as a catalyst for a decline in learning results?

I have already mentioned that online education had many negative impacts on many learners. But the introduction of digital mode cannot be termed the only cause for a decline in learning results. To cope with the present and future environment, it is inevitable that technology is incorporated into the teaching-learning approach. The teachers should be first oriented and equipped well with all the requisite skills to guide the learners in a judicious and fruitful way. Guided and regulated use of digital platforms will definitely bring positive results.