When in 1951 Isaac Asimov composed the story ‘The Fun They Had’ about future school where students were taught by mechanical teachers or robotic teachers and their homes were their schools, we were excited about such schools and we knew that this ‘Science Fiction’ would become a reality sooner or later.
But, hardly did anyone imagine that such schools would become a reality, so soon and so suddenly. Even on the first day of this year 2020, nobody would have imagined that after two months, students would be confined to their homes and teaching would be limited to electronic media only.
Terminology such as virtual schools, online education, digital learning was most sought to be associated with an age that belongs to the future.
By the late twentieth century, in the wake of an early internet era with arrival of Yahoo and Google, we started believing technology would change the look and format of learning very soon. But, teaching and learning would be completely dependent on digital media so sudden, no one would have ever imagined. That’s what life is – unexpected, unbelievable, incredible and unavoidable. ‘Necessity is the mother of all invention’ seems to be the most apt description of the journey we have come about in the last few months.
Since situations imposed by life are unavoidable, we have to be prepared and well equipped to deal with such situations. Currently, due to Corona pandemic, we are thrust into an age of online teaching and learning and it is the responsibility of teaching community, parents, Government and Education Boards to develop a new education system that would cater to the needs of fast changing technologies and techno savvy younger generation. It’s all about changing our perspective and planning accordingly in the current scenario.
While designing an Education system we need to keep in mind that the children shouldn’t be too much exposed to apps and devices that may be harmful to their health and development. Discussing about digital learning online lectures are the best options. As far as practice is concerned the students must be motivated to use their textbooks and workbooks. Apps and other designed programmes must not include written material. They must be interactive and used only for explanations, discussions and question answer sessions. The children should be guided and motivated to read their textbooks, support material and resource books as well.
Since education is the prerogative of man, the new system must not take the blame of killing ingenuity, creativity and intellectual traits of students. Instead of spoon feeding in form of ready-made notes, interactions and discussions should be kept to the fore in the system.
Keeping in mind that online teaching and digital learning are the future of the education system, it is viable that a reliable, healthy, interactive and safe education system must evolve so that our children, the future of India should not be exposed to any threats and dangers of the internet and electronic media. Governing bodies and regulatory authorities need to be formed to check the authenticity and credibility of teaching agencies and learning apps. Simultaneously, the accuracy and appropriateness of the teaching material need to be confirmed and approved by the body of trained and experienced faculty.
Learning should be the chief concern of this online teaching and learning programme and not the money making. The parents are already reeling under ever increasing education fees and if apps and devices also become a headache to them, it would be a failure of a global education system.
The man’s hand should always be behind the man made technology. Let it be a man’s servant, and not its master.