Unacademy | Headcount: 1,500 | Headquarters: Bengaluru | Year founded: 2015 | In 2020, Facebook-backed Unacademy became the second edutech startup to become a unicorn (startups valued at over $1 billion). (Representative Image: Pixabay)
Technology has permeated all aspects of our life and is on the cusp of revolutionising education. The shift to digital learning is inevitable. Today, the digital natives are more comfortable typing on a touchscreen than writing with a pen is a harbinger of our times. we cant afford to hang on to the old ways of teaching and learning. American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey, was way ahead of his time, summed it up perfectly. “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”
With young people constantly being surrounded by smart devices – be it a phone, tablet, smart watch or a laptop – digital learning is the next logical step in the evolution of education. Studying in an environment that is enhanced by technology is organic to Generation Z, and hence makes them better learners. It enables them to use online resources for practical application to their lessons, rather than just parroting theories. This not only sharpens their critical thinking skills but also sows the seed for analytical reasoning.
Gamification of lessons in a digital environment also helps make learning fun and engages students in ways traditional methods havent been able to. E-Learning is a lot more interactive, encouraging students to ask questions and retain information better. Another great reason why digital education needs to become the new standard is that it equalises the playing field and provides students an opportunity to compete at a global level. We believe, this can undoubtedly help create technology leaders of the future.
Technology is an enabler, not replacement to Guru-Shishya relationship
As transformative as digital or virtual learning can be; it cannot replace classroom teaching and the critical role teachers play in shaping the minds of the students. As Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft and Philanthropist, rightly said, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.”
While digital tools can make learning math easier, only a teacher can motivate and build character in their students. Teachers not only give individual attention to students, but also create one-on-one relationships based on trust, love and emotional connect. They create a safe space for students to be themselves and learn at their own pace. Rather than teaching a standard course such as in virtual learning, a traditional classroom is more dynamic in nature where teachers pivot their material to better suit the learning capabilities of their students.
On a broader spectrum, teachers encourage social interaction, participation and exchange of ideas, thereby moulding well-rounded individuals, team players and leaders of tomorrow.
Marrying the best of both worlds is the answer
Both methods have their merits, so what should be the way forward? For versatile learning and overall growth of young people, we need to marry the two. Blending digital learning with traditional methods will give students the most optimum and effective pedagogy.
We can do this by training and equipping our teachers with digital tools to make learning more engaging and effective within the classroom, while also enabling them to bring their personal touch.
As said by George Couros, an educator himself, “Technology will not replace great teachers. But technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational.”
The responsibility lies on educators like ourselves. We need to bring digital tools inside our traditional classrooms. We need to be catalysts for this transformation.The author is President, BML Munjal University.