Q. What have been your experiences in introducing ICT in your school?
Though our school, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV), is equipped to implement ICT in education, introduction to communication technology for our students happens only after they join here, as 75% them come from rural areas. They are also not very conversant with the use of English language. Thus use of technology in the teaching process comes as a big challenge for our students, who are introduced to it in the 6th standard.
Our experience has shown that these students are not handicapped by their lack of exposure to technology, if their specific needs are kept in focus while introducing technology in education. Our students have a fast learning curve and use these tools very judiciously.
Although computer aided technology was introduced way even before 2001, clarity on its use and integration into education had been lacking. This was mainly because of lack of training among teachers and an attitudinal aversion towards technology in the existing mindset.
Q. How did you break the ice with teachers towards acquiring ICT skills?
Initially, only a few teachers showed interest in using ICT. But the group grew bigger with time. Once, as the principal, I picked up some skills myself, the ball was set rolling for others to do the same.
It is important to start by setting an example and with my continuous pursuance teachers were motivated to start using technology in education in 2003. They were provided exposure through trainings and encouraged to participate in competitions, like the ones held by Intel and Microsoft.
The training on project based teaching-learning by Intel helped our teachers to participate in the Intel Award for Best Integration of Technology in Education in the year 2004.
Our teachers and students bagged awards for Best School for Integrating Technology, Best Teacher for Integrating Technology and Best Student Project. This motivated many students and teachers towards using technologies. In the subsequent years we bagged many more awards.
With consistent effort, we bagged the Computer Literacy Excellence Award 2005 at the national level and the cash prize of INR 8.5 lakh was used to upgrade infrastructure in our school and motivate teachers to use technology in day-to-day teaching.
Improvement in the Internet connectivity has enhanced the technology atmosphere in our JNV. In fact, for some teachers technology has become a way of life and they are setting new trends among their peers.
Our school is also involved in an Oracle project called ‘think.com’ and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) project ‘shiksha’ and Intel ‘Teach to future’, including others.
Q. How would you describe the current level of expertise among the teachers?
Presently all our teachers are computer literate and half of them are actively using it in their day-to-day teaching. In the beginning some of them did not fully understand the manner and extent to which technology needs to be used with the result that a few students developed hatred towards technology aided teaching. Some teachers just started showing films on the subject matter and felt it will take care of the teaching process. They failed to understand that technology can only supplement and complement them in teaching. However, timely guidance and discussions with teachers improved the situation.
So, the head of an institution can bring about a transformation with regular guidance to tech-savvy teachers. As a academic supervisor, he/she should regularly monitor the technology aided classes and have review meetings to improve it. If technology implementation is properly monitored, it is a powerful tool to bring change in the learning environment.
Q. How did the school adjust to the change in terms of schedule, curriculum, teachers training, etc?
Computers were available by the year 2001, but both teachers and students were scared to use the computers and lacked confidence. Exposure to basic training programmes gave them confidence and set a new trend among teachers. Initially, I encouraged few teachers to use technology and developed them as a core group to implement the technology in the school, which has slowly roped in the rest to adapt to the changing environment. School level training was arranged for the teachers by allotting special slots in the timetable, called TAL (technology aided learning) periods to make them comfortable with technology. No rest-riction was placed on their frequent use of computer labs. Staff meetings would be held to highlight TAL classes while discussing the benefits of the same.
Teacher were encouraged to give more technology aided assignments, specially browsing information through Internet, etc. Work done by students and teachers would be periodically showcased to motivate others. All this slowly improved the percentage of use of computers in the teaching process.
Q. Would you like to share examples of direct use of technology? How was content created and what kind of software applications were used?
In the initial stage, teachers were dependent on ready-made CD contents. But slowly some teachers became independent and started customising content by using Internet resources. Irrespective of their subjects, all teachers started using technology. Technology empowered the teachers and also helped them in their professional growth. So it is not the subject that makes a difference in the use of technology. It is the technical knowledge and interest of the teacher that makes the lesson more interesting and thus creates a technical atmosphere in the school. So as a head of the institution, Principals must ensure that regular training /input should be given to the teachers to upgrade them technologically.
Q. Please tell us about the new pedagogical ideas introduced in the school to promote technology enabled education.
While insisting for the use of technology among the teachers, I have also taken care to provide necessary infrastructure in the school. After setting up a multimedia room with LCD projection facility, there is an increase in the frequency of teachers using technology and it is fruitful. Rather, some of the teachers have created good e-Content for their syllabus and started using regularly.
Encouragement on the part of management has motivated few teachers to the level of bagging national level awards in technology use. Moreover, the image of the teachers has improved among their colleagues and parents and students. Thus technology empowers the teacher professionally as well as personally. There is also a marked improvement in the learning environment and students’ participation has also increased.
Q. What has been the impact of this technology enabled teaching and learning process on your school?
As any other technology, computer technology is not an exception to misuse. In an effort to ease their work, some teachers started using ready-made educational CDs on the subject contents. This developed an aversion among the students and did not bring the desired results in teaching with technology.
But when used properly, technology has the tremendous potential to strengthen learning. For example, technology aided projects or assignments develop creativity in the students and help sustain their interest in the subjects.
Computer labs should be made accessible to both teachers and students.
Of course some percentage of misuse will be there. But that should not deter people from using it sincerely. In fact in the initial stages, I strongly reacted to any case of misuse and blocked the facilities for many, which hampered the technology implementation and lead to under utilisation of the facility available. As a head of the institution, one needs to play a balanced role in handling such situations, keeping in view the benefits of technology implementation. In our school teachers and students can use the computer lab for coursework, with adequate monitoring. Periodical counseling and discussions in the morning assembly and in staff meetings has improved the situation. Any exemplary work done by students or teachers are discussed and appreciated in the morning assembly, which has helped set a good trend.
So it is the duty of the management in the school or organisation to regularly train the teachers and also guide them in using technology in a judicious manner. This will go a long way in helping students learn with more clarity.