If you ask a student to describe a regular Indian classroom, he would probably paint a picture of students sitting through long monologues. However, the education sector in India has undergone a transformation over the last decade. The introduction of technology is making life easier for both – students and educators.
A generation well-versed with iPads and PlayStations, students today prefer taking their lessons over internet-enabled gadgets. Education technology (also known as ed-tech), has provided these students with an enabling environment that is more participatory and inclusive.
Smartclass from Shantanu Prakash’s venture Educomp Solutions was one of the very first examples of the concept being implemented. A digital content library, Educomp Smartclass is a multimedia-rich, curriculum-mapped teaching tool. Setups like these have enabled thousands of teachers to effectively teach and assess the students.
While ed-tech and mobile learning has its own share of pros and cons, the concept has been facing multiple challenges when it comes to steady adoption. The major obstacle that ed-tech in India faces, comes in the form of hostility towards the amalgamation of technology and education.
Those unfamiliar with the authenticity of ed-tech, often end up describing it as a “distraction” to the schoolchildren, who are otherwise bound to follow the “ideal” education system that focuses on rigid examinations and rote learning. Ed-tech experiences a hard time gaining acceptance, especially in the rural and semi-urban areas, where access to technology is quite limited.
However, what the debaters against ed-tech fail to realize is that generating “escape plans” to ward off the monotony of the conventional classroom structure is not a new concept altogether, neither in India, nor across any other part of the world.
We all remember trying to memorize the order of the planets in our solar system with a simple sentence, “My Very Efficient Maid Just Served Us Noodles.” Another such analogy lies in the sentence, “BB ROY of Great Britain had a Very Good Wife”, which we used to memorize electronic color codes. These mnemonics have existed for decades, helping children learn things in a fun way.
People who have watched the popular TV series Hannah Montana would remember the episode where Miley Cyrus creates a song to help her memorize the names of different bones in human body for a biology test. Imagine what would happen if all students got the chance to learn complex subjects like science and math through songs. Wouldn’t it be easier for the students to feel connected and grasp the information being relayed to them?
Teaching simple math to elementary school kids by drawing references from popular cartoon series like Pokémon would leave a lasting impact on the young minds. Similarly, teaching the intricacies of drama through movies like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or explaining a history lesson about World War II by referring to video games like Call of Duty would make the students more willing to participate in the learning process.
Using pop culture as an educational device has been aiding innovative teachers ever since shows like Sesame Street gained popularity. Students spend a large portion of their day interacting with popular culture, which is why it has proved to be an excellent tool in the hands of educators who want to go an extra mile to engage students in the class.
Ed-tech is just a notch above the use of pop culture references in education in its vision of learning and technology walking hand in hand. The concept holds the potential to take the Indian education to new heights, only if we accept this gradual shift whole-heartedly. After all, not all changes are bad.