After having extensively explored the use of technology in education over the past decade, many schools in the city are back to where it all started — good old books and blackboards. Although teachers admit to the advantages of smart classrooms, they said the distraction such gadgets cause to young students is a cause for concern.
A number of Indian schools have upgraded on-campus technology to include state-of the-art computers, audiovisual classrooms, etc. At schools such as the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Bandra, and Doon School in Dehradun, the ‘bring-your-own-device’ practice encourages students to even use gadgets for taking notes in class. In fact, according to The Elementary Education in India 2011-12 report, 48% of the country’s 1.4 million schools have computers.
But, despite the availability of technology, there are many schools that are slowly making their way back to traditional teaching methods.
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour School, Chembur, is one such example. At this school, the much-talked about XSEED curriculum, which replaces a one-step teaching process — a lecture — with a multi-step learning process using various gadgets, was implemented for the primary section two years ago. The following year, however, it was scrapped, as the school thought it was not a very effective method to teach young children.
“The XSEED curriculum did not work very well for the primary section and we felt traditional teaching methods bring out the best in the students, as well as teachers. It is a good concept and is based on activity learning, but students were not very comfortable with the tools,” said Fr Paul, a member of the school’s management.
Further, while many schools give or allow students to buy laptops and iPads for classwork, there is a growing voice of dissent towards the practice as well.
“The biggest issue is the lack of research or thought about whether it is appropriate for children to be exposed to such high levels of technology, or to what extent it should replace traditional methods of teaching,” said Prasanto Roy, a cyber-media expert. He said the disparity in curriculums across boards also poses a problem in effectively integrating education and technology.
Many city schools agree. While St Gregorios School, Chembur, has a strict no-laptop policy for students, at IES School, Dadar, basic mathematical concepts are taught only on blackboards, using chalk.
Avnita Bir, principal of RN Podar School, Santacruz, too said that while it is important to integrate technology with education, its utility needs must be outlined.
“If technology is not being utilised for the right purpose, it should not be encouraged. We initially gave senior students the freedom to use iPads for classwork, but withdrew the order as soon as we realised it was not necessary,” said Bir.
Nalanda Public School, Mulund, too, has IT-enabled classrooms, but refrains from using technology while teaching core subjects, especially to pre-primary and primary sections.
“It is important for children to learn concepts in a tangible form, and that cannot be taught on an iPad or a computer screen. For example, during maths classes, we use two apples and two oranges to show them that it adds to four. Students of the secondary section are asked to do projects that look at the application of concepts being taught,” said Sailee Mantri, head of the pre-primary section of the school.
Caption: RN Podar School, Santacruz, has smart boards in all classrooms. Yet, teachers make it a point to conduct regular discussions and debates among students, without the use of computers and phones.