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Learning becomes faster, better, easier

Lectures via video conferencing, virtual classrooms, educational videogames are fast replacing traditional teaching tools in city schools.

mumbai Updated: Jun 21, 2012 00:47 IST
Mugdha Variyar

Roshnee Sundararaman, 17, was among the select few students in the city to have scored above 95% in the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam this year.

However, what sets her apart is that Sundararaman — who secured an impressive 96.8% — had studied a subject on Skype, a voice-over-Internet technology that enables users to communicate with voice, video or instant messaging.

Sundaraman and her classmates at RN Podar School, Santacruz, were taught economics using Skype after their favourite teacher, Lakshmi Ramesh, shifted to Chennai. “Our batch was accustomed to learning from her, and since it was a crucial year, we did not want a replacement,” said Sundaraman, who scored 97% in the subject. This was the first batch of the school to try such an arrangement.

Ramesh would log on to Skype from her house in Chennai according to the school timetable. “While I was initially skeptical, owing to my limited knowledge of the technology, the students’ confidence helped me get comfortable,” she said.

The school is pleased with the experiment and has continued the system for Class 12 students this year. “The results have been outstanding, with 62 out of the 88 students who took economics scoring above 90%,” said Avnita Bir, school principal.

Many schools across the city have similarly experimented with technology to reap the benefits of latest advances, and the trend is not just limited to higher classes.

At the 38 pre-schools run by the Podar Jumbo Kids in the city, videogames are being used to facilitate learning.

Every classroom has a television set, and students are taught simple equations and alphabets using a videogame-based programme. For example, a simulated football game makes student solve equations by scoring goals with footballs that have numbers written on them.

At other schools, Youtube videos are emerging as a learning source with rap songs as a trope to breakdown complex subjects, as the internet gradually emerges as an alternative to textbooks.

“In our school, we occasionally study subjects such as physics and biology through Youtube videos with rap songs on the topic,” said Shubhangi Dutta, a Class 8 student of Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Bandra. “It is more interesting to study a topic such as the digestive system when the process is explained through a song with descriptive visuals.”

The tablet computer too is no longer limited to the corporate world and has made an appearance in classrooms. From Monday, students of Class 1 to Class 8 at the Kapole Vidyanidhi International, Kandivli, will use Apple iPads as part of the English Language Development programme. “Students are technology savvy, and we wanted to do something innovative to build their interest,” said Reshma Hegde, principal of the school.

“We will use this technology to improve their communication skills and vocabulary, and we will eventually extend it to other subjects,” she added.

However, educationists warn that schools need to address some concerns before increasingly relying on new technologies.