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Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Teaching Gadgets

Skills of the 21 st Century


CHILDREN today are exposed to gadgets like iPods and laptops from an early age and they, in turn, master them much quicker. As Udai Lauria, an educationist, points out: "A major problem with our Indian education system lies in the fact that 21st Century learners are taught by 20th Century teachers in 19th Century classrooms. As a result, they miss out on developing this century's skills." 


   He adds: "The need, now, is to foster IT skills in students; such as innovative skills, multi-media skills and career skills. The entire curriculum should revolve around inculcating such skills in students, skills that would help them later on in their life." Lauria also feels that there is a lack of dialogue among various stakeholders in the system. So, he is providing a platform for teachers, students, parents and even other educational bodies to facilitate mutual dialogue and interaction.


   Through his Consortium for Research in School Pedagogy (CRISP), a not-forprofit organisation, he is doing his bit to make the system better. He says: "We are working on preparing lessons subject-wise and topic-wise and strictly adhering to CBSE guidelines. We will also provide additional research material for all stakeholders in the process, to widen the horizons of learning." 


   Once a student/teacher/parents logs on to their website , he/she can access a number of links on a given topic. On its benefit for students, Lauria elaborates: "Traditionally, a child learns from the book, teacher, parents and peers and thus learns the same thing in four different ways. On the other hand, we are providing hundreds of ways to learn and understand the same problem, addressing multiple intelligences of a child." 


Many schools are now imparting skills like problem solving, conflict resolution, team building, leadership and even thinking skills. They are also sensitised towards the fact that the aim of education is no longer confined to teaching the basics or just passing a student. "Gone are the days when the education system was recognised by a mere pass or fail, now it's also about imparting life skills to students that can practically be used by them in their lives," says Bindu Dutt, maths teacher, SCS DAV School, Mayur Vihar. 


   She agrees that imparting IT skills is a necessity today. She adds: "For mathematics, we use a software which enables learning using multi-media. It not only helps catching the attention of students but also in improving the comprehension and retention span of weaker students." 


   For adding innovation to her subject and making it interesting and more meaningful for students, she gives them projects based on daily lives. She adds: "We give them different themes like using maths in daily life, so that they understand concepts better and with greater ease." 


   Similarly, Neha Taneja, maths teacher, DPS Gurgaon, uses Geometer Sketchpad in her classrooms to teach concepts better. She says: "It is very effective in teaching subjects like trigonometry and parabolas among others, which students usually find difficult to understand. Since it has the visual benefit, concepts are easier to relate to." 


Linking studies to real-life situations to make it more meaningful for her students, Taneja says: "We give assignments like making presentations on statistics in real life and so on. By doing such exercises, students understand and remember concepts for life. Students are quite tech-savvy these days and hence find it engaging when given projects that require work like researching and making presentations using computers and the internet and thus, do it whole-heartedly." She also encourages her students to do something constructive on the internet like solving sample papers given online and so on. 


   Children with effective communication and language skills fare far better than students who are academic scholars, opines Monika Chopra, chemistry teacher, N C Jindal School, Punjabi Bagh. She says: "The need, today, is to become a learner who develops concepts to completeness and correctness. In other words, construction of knowledge is the buzzword today." 


   As regards focusing on IT skills in her students, she says: "We use modules to demonstrate experiments that re-emphasise on the do's and don'ts which we teach in class. So when they see an exothermic reaction taking place visually, they understand that we add water to acid and not viceversa and how much heat is produced so that they take care while doing it practically."




Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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