Back in the seventies; did anyone imagine that computer proficiency would become a part of our day to day lives? Computers are now an integral part of our lives. Today, be it schooling, training, shopping, banking, ticketing, messaging or accounting, computers are practically used for each and every activity. This is where the need for computer education and technology integration in education comes in. Knowledge of computers opens up a plethora of opportunities and a focussed emphasis on Information and Communication Technology education gives students a significant edge in every imaginable field of human activity. ICT or Information and Communication Technology can be defined as a miscellaneous set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, create, distribute, store, and manage information. These technologies include computers, the internet broadcasting technologies and telephony.
The role of technology in education is vital and the question is no longer if technology enhances learning, but rather how do we improve our use of technology to enhance learning?
The various education boards and examination authorities across India are CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE and IB which have set certain standards that provide a basic framework for the school authorities to decide What, Why and How of teaching ICT. The technology learning environment encourages students to grapple with the complexities, as well as the limitations and potential disadvantages along with the enchantment of the versatility and power of technologies in our lives and workplaces. The Information and Communication Technology curriculum is not intended to stand alone, but rather it is infused within core courses and programs.
Using technology in the right manner to improve student’s achievement has been a driving force for us. However, we are also not blind to the fact that educational practices are the ones that determine how well students learn and hence the use of technology as a tool to mediate educational practices has always been our aim. We have observed that students are often more actively engaged in projects when technological tools are a seamless part of the learning process. Hence integrating educational technologies into teaching has been our endeavor since we are aware that when digital competence and online environments are integrated meaningfully into instruction, students have new openings to learn and achieve.
At our school for instance, we have been dabbling with different ways to achieve this objective and since we are in a phase where new technological tools and ideas are emerging daily, it is a continuous learning process with us as well as our students.
We address the needs of the 21st century by channelising individuals to become highly skilled, innovative and sensitive to the economy, society and environment. The focus of the curriculum is to connect what is taught and learned in the classroom to a real life context. The nucleus of computer education is our Innovation Centre which includes study of robotics, use of latest devices like iPads, laptops, latest mobile phone technology, simulations and gaming methodology which is integrated into the curriculum. ICT is integrated with scholastic areas as well as co-scholastic areas to connect knowledge with real-life situations. Schools are determined to incorporate the best teaching and assessment practices in classrooms to bring about a constructive bearing on the ICT learning process.
While online learning gains traction around the world, we have been exploring diverse ways to pool resources to make it an extremely interactive and wholesome experience for our students. Right from using Google Classrooms and Google meet which is a norm, to amalgamating Google Docs, Google maps, Google Earth, instructional tools like Interactive Whiteboards and Student Response Systems and other websites to give virtually fulfilling learning experiences.
One of the central ideas of digital or media literacy is that students should become creators and critics, not just consumers, of media. Creating media like podcasts, videos, or slideshows has always been a part of our teaching-learning process.
However, apart from all this, introducing coding from lower grades has been an initiative by our school from the very beginning even before NEP was rolled out and teaching coding was made mandatory in schools.
We realised that computational thinking was lacking in students since they were only being taught how to use web-based software in a computer rather than creating ways for them to solve authentic problems through computer programming. This brought us to the realisation that one dimension of computer science that can easily be integrated into the curriculum is teaching students to code.
According to Berkman Klein Center, “Coding is a new literacy. To thrive in tomorrow’s society, young people must learn to design, create, and express themselves with digital technologies”. We are conducting CS First Google certification program based on Coding for Birla Open Minds students.
Hence we offer computational thinking strategies with coding as part of the curriculum to students from preschool onwards, thus exposing them to 21st century skills and enabling them to be successful in their future careers.
The creative use of ICT in education and technology integration in education provides an excellent platform to build a better future for our BOMIS students. The widespread use of computers in all walks of lives has resulted in increased opportunities for personal and professional development in teachers and to be leaders in their own right and to inspire learners. The accountability of the teacher lies in exposing themselves to the cutting edge technological innovations to ensure excellence in education for the learners.
Willingness to embrace change is also a major requirement for successful integration of technology in education. Keeping up with a continuously, and rapidly, evolving technological arena is an ongoing process and demands continuous learning. Training our teachers to keep up with the fast paced changes is also an initiative that is close to our heart.
We plan to use technology panning all subjects and engage students in real-world activities. Right from using electronic probes to help science students collect precise data and answer hypotheses, to using graphing calculators, spreadsheets, and graphing software in mathematics thus helping students visualise difficult mathematical concepts. Using e communication tools to bring the world together and study society. Using language learning networks to create joint writing exercises. Using concept mapping software to link complex characters and to build frameworks for a story; exploring artwork, making documentary, digital photography, designing App, designing game, making digital album, creating digital art, musical compositions and many more.
Shaping empowered learners is the need of the hour and, we have realised that educational technology is a major tool to achieve this.
The sky is the limit for our learners!
Ms. Pushpita Chattopadhyay
Head – Academics & Special Projects
Birla Open Minds