Education Plus

Technology for the teacher

A teacher learns to use the 'SMART' electronic board at a 'classroom' technology imparting workshop in Hyderabad. Photo: P.V. Sivakumar   | Photo Credit: P_V_SIVAKUMAR

Learning in classrooms is no longer restricted to blackboards and a series of lectures from professors. Tablets, Skype classes, Power Point presentations, documentaries and other interactive elements have become such an integral part of learning that students are no longer just learners but facilitators as well. And the interactivity is not just limited to teaching but has also seeped into smart report cards that allow students to track their long-term progress and make informed decisions about their future.

Take Report Bee, a Chennai-based startup, that looks at making academic data informative for students and teachers alike. They work with over 100 schools across the country. “There is a lot of assessment data and they are all in Excel sheets. When I want to see what is happening in class, and identify students who are consistently scoring between 50-70 per cent in the last six exams, it will take a lot of effort to find out. With the usual academic data, you only know drastic differences. With Report Bee, we use simple tools to make academic data useful for schools, so that you can see even gradual changes or highs and lows in a student’s performance,” says Anant Mani, CEO, Report Bee.

The startup’s data offers what they term ‘beautiful report cards’, which not just looks at academic data but also at extracurricular activities and health. “Schools do a lot but are not able to communicate all of it to parents consistently. We allow this holistic growth to be communicated effectively to parents, and the students can even use it to assess their strengths and weakness. The technology helps them figure out their strengths and make better decisions for the future,” he adds.

Tech in practice

Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Anna Nagar, Chennai, one of Report Bee’s subscribers, is happy with the learning technology and how it bridges the gap between parents and teachers. “It is a very convenient tool for us to communicate grades to the parents. Since everything about the students is on paper, open days and other interactions are handled comfortably. Teachers are motivated to use the technology because of its practicality and how easy it is to analyse later. The company also has a bulk SMS facility that allows us to communicate with parents directly in case an important message has to be conveyed,” says V. Gowrilakshmi, Principal.

How does interactivity help in an institute where music is taught? “As educators, our job is to make sure the students retain what is taught. This was done with charts and coloured paper in the past. But now we realise the importance of including technology into our classrooms,” says Rangapriya Gautham, Associate vice-president, Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music. “We use various means like Khan Academy videos, live online classes, smart classrooms with tablets and other instruments to make the classes interactive.”

Learning curve

Are teachers coming forward to teach with these interactive methods? “The learning curve for some of them is higher than the rest. This is about the only challenge we have. But new-age teachers are open to trying out new things in order to make the students learn better,” she says. “Even in our schools, MARG Navjyoti Vidyalaya, we have sponsored tablets that we give to students and teachers so that learning can be fun and interactive.”

While online classes and app-loaded tablets are sweeping classrooms across the country, the Anthropology Department of the University of Madras is using a different methodology of introducing technology into their classes. “We have the usual Power Point presentations but what we really do here is use documentaries to talk about abstract theories like culture,” says S. Sumathi, HoD, Department of Anthropology. “We call this visual ethnography. As anthropologists, traditionally, only the teacher had any exposure to communities, traditions and culture, and she would share this knowledge with her class.” But this approach was biased and did not offer space for discussion. So, when the teachers and students went on field studies, they began to document them and play in the classes. “This has encouraged debates and opened up new perspectives. There must always be space for questions and new ideas, which is what learning is all about,” she adds.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 10:39:44 AM |

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