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Don’t put your schools in the reverse gear!

By G. Balasubramanian

We seem to be getting a bit of relief from the violent attack of the virus Covid-19. Vaccines have arrived. Except a few countries, in several others situations are limping back to normalcy. Nevertheless, many organizations would continue to keep their 'online schedules’ alive for the next couple of months. The idea of ‘self-protective behaviour’ and keeping away from ‘masses’ through social distancing will have to continue for some more time. However, the schools and colleges have reopened in many states in a phased manner with stringent regulations put in place. It is anybody’s guess how meticulously they are followed in the absence of strict vigilance.

With schools trying to be back on their feet, one of the Principals in conversation with me gave a striking comment that made me think and hence the article. All that she said was ‘Thank God, we will be back to our classrooms. Good Bye to technology!” Initially I thought she was saying that in a lighter vein, but the conversation revealed her discomfort with technology and hence the approach ‘what is not good for me, is not good for others!’

I wondered – can we say ‘good bye to technology’? Certainly not! Such ideas will never sustain themselves in the educational platforms. Well, one accepts that technology can never replace the teacher, now or ever! Teachers have a very powerful role to play even when technology takes the front seat! As harbingers of wisdom, emotions, relationships, values, life skills and several other significant empowering issues, teachers will play a pivotal role with the help of technology using it as a tool. But will we able to work without technology? I think, it appears to be a far-fetched idea with the kind of competencies required for the current and the futuristic world.

Indeed, we need to have a progressive outlook about technology in schools, as it can play a significant role in expanding the universe of knowledge, access to information, speed of assimilation of fact, identifying the authenticity of the information; that apart, its role in integrating pedagogical processes to further integrated thinking, inter-disciplinary thinking, multi-disciplinary thinking, self-learning and in redefining thought architectures among the passionate learners is immense.

The future holds limitless opportunities for experiential learning through technology both on live and on virtual platforms. With artificial intelligence in place, learning experiences both direct and simulated can facilitate in skill empowerment even in remote centres of learning. With effective use of technology, the learning gap, the resource gap and the culture gap between institutions in different parts of the country can certainly be minimized, if not neutralized. I have personally witnessed how augmented realities can help in bringing about better conceptual clarity with a 3-D approach to learning content.

It is important for teachers and the learning organizations to accept the reality of the emerging situations and to cope with the changes. I recall the famous words of Alfred Graham Bell, who discovered the telephone ‘When one door closes, another opens; but we often so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Let us see the new windows of opportunities, new windows of learning, not because the former was bad, but because change is the order of the day and change also leads to progress. “Technology will not replacd great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational. “says, George Courors.

Teachers and educators need to move both from their zones of fear and zones of comfort to become learners of the new vistas of knowledge and skills. Let us not put our schools in the reverse gear!