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Technology In Education - Is It A Boon Or Curse?

by Vasudha Neel Mani, Director & Principal, Ardee Schools October-2017

"Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” - Bill Gates

In today’s world we cannot live without technology. Motivating teachers and making them use the best of it is a major task. We are living in a world where there are advancements happening with the lightning speed. One day we were using a technological equipment, the next you know that it became obsolete. So, in order to move with the speed of the world and the brimming thinking minds, it is necessary to inculcate technology in the regular curriculum. If teaching is considered as a teaching-learning experience for both parties (teachers as well as students), then, it leads to a beautiful journey where both teachers and students become each others students and teachers at the same time! As a teacher, we are also learning every day.

The younger generation will always be more aware, and more quick to use technology ONLY because that is the medium of their toys (XBOX, WII, PSP etc). In our generation we read books, so, I am able to refer to books and find things in books easier than them. Their generation plays with technology-oriented-toys which involves manoeuvring around menus, options, changing modes, etc which is why they are more comfortable with such devices when used for educational purposes.

One needs to accept the fact that the younger generation will always be quicker. But quicker does not necessarily mean smarter. They are quick to know how to use a device. And as a teacher, I accept it. And am willing to learn from them.

When I introduced iPads in my school, all were sceptical as how it might turn-out. There were many loopholes and uncertainties when we implemented iPad as a part of our curriculum. But, to our amusement, we found kids more comfortable with iPads than us being teachers. They were eager and anxious to learn and explore the world and subjects through iPads. This also improved their grasping power and implementation of the concepts taught to them.

As an educationist, I believe in preparing our teachers before implementing any new technology. Three years ago when iPads and apple education was introduced we all were learning from each other and trying to make most of what we had in our hands. Integrating technology and education has nothing to do with the brand or which technology we are using. The priority should be that students must have best of both worlds. So when Microsoft came up with their educational applications, I was very keen to explore the opportunity. The skypethon sessions with schools across the globe, interacting with education director, trying minecraft and all other experiences have given teachers and students a different exposure altogether.

Through the best of both worlds, the teachers can integrate their lesson plan with technology in such a way that the students are able to make presentations based on their learning on their own. The learning will be faster and application based. The students and teachers enjoy the journey of learning together. Once the educational leaders and teachers are convinced then they take parents into confidence. As it is a modern age society and parents are also very well aware of this fact and they want to give their child the best of anything and everything. Now a days, parents are ready to leave no stone unturned for the better future of their child. Once we enlighten the parents about the positive role of technology in the development of their child, they will not treat it as a cost but will treat it as a fruitful investment. With whatever happening around us, I feel that operational issues existed and will be there in future too but as educationists, we need to ensure that the core of education must not be lost. The main focus should be to prepare the students for choices, chances and challenges of tomorrow.

Using a tablet or any other technology, where it fits in best is the key. You cannot ALWAYS use the iPad or any tab in all subjects to teach all topics. There aren't enough apps for this purpose, and one has to bear in mind that technology is not the goal, but only a means to the goal. And the final goal involves a written expression of concepts that have been understood by the learner. Use an app only if you are convinced that this is the best form to learn a particular concept - not just because you "have" to! If used sparingly or with no real conviction, there will be a danger of the iPad or tab becoming a source of hindrance for the above mentioned goal!

Having said that, it is how we use it, and how consistently we use it - this will convince anyone - whether fellow colleagues, school leaders, or parents to invest wisely - be it technology or any other teaching aid.