Working in a school where students are allowed to use smart phones and tablets, I realized that it is best to accept my ignorance early on. What led to this positive change was a bitter, humiliating correction by a student of grade X. I was enthusiastic about teaching (not much about whether students were learning) and while discussing the causes of First World War I mentioned the ‘treaty of Versailles’ which of course is a prominent cause for the Second World War. One of the students humbly corrected, “Sir isn’t ‘treaty of Versailles’ related to the second world war?” “Look who comes to correct me!” I said coldly. It took hardly a minute for one of those technophiles to hop to me with a little Smartphone in his hands: “Mr. Thomas, actually you are wrong.” That was it. That little champ taught me one of the biggest lessons, ‘teachers no more enjoy the exclusive right to knowledge.’ The age of rote memorization is fast fading and the world has geared up for what is commonly called ‘knowledge construction’ (remember Jean Pieget’s cognitive constructivist theory). (If you happened to come across this post by chance and would like to know a bit more about how learning happens, I would like you to spend a moment onhttp://www.learning-theories.com/ ) One striking difference I have noticed between cognitive constructivism and other learning theories such as behaviourism is that the former has scope to accommodate those technophiles in a better way than the latter. That is not to say that behaviourism, humanism or other theories do not cater to the use of technology in the real class room situations. I only mean to say that now I do not spend hours “teaching” the causes of First World War. Firstly, I share with them what I know about it. Secondly I ask them to find out in detail more about it. I walk around monitoring/observing that they are on the task, helping them where necessary. Thirdly, I encourage them to share the result of their research with the rest of the class. And the outcome? It is unbelievable! They come out with better learning experiences. If you thought that has reduced my work in the class, I sorry, you are horribly wrong: My work has become a bit more difficult. There are students who prone to love FB(not just FB!) a bit more than the causes of second world war,l aren’t there? You know it. And so I need to be very active and alert practically every moment in the class. By birth I am an Indian and true to my name I doubted the benefits of technology in knowledge construction untill I saw it with my own eyes. If there is a ‘doubting Thomas’ in you, I suggest you take your students to the ICT lab (if they do not have individual devices) and give them a topic to do research on (Subject doesn’t matter). You need to set the objectives of the lesson prior to your adventurous trip to the ICT lab. Ask your students to continue their research at home and follow up your research lesson with a discussion lesson. Some children would love spending time on preparing PPts ect. Let them do that. What is more important in the long run is not that you taught them, but that they have learnt. Here are some suggestions that will help you become a 24/7 teacher at no particular expense:
- If your students are using whatsup create a group and conduct discussions
- Create a facebook page for your subject and invite your students and other teachers teaching the same subjects to like your page.
- Create powerpoints on important points; do not use more than 15 words on each slide; convert them into JPEG and post on your FB page.
- Keep in mind that all students are not academic oriented, so keep sharing what interests them too.
- Remember humour is a powerful tool online, too.