Dear Parents, Teachers and Learners
Are you genuinely interested in learning for life? If yes, then you cannot shut your eyes to technology in this age of digital technology gone mobile. We work on iPads and computers and even on iPhones. Even children in Indian villages are supposed to be accessing mobile technology as a viable learning option. The people of Gujarat, our state, have the most technologically advanced mindset – starting with our Chief Minister and not excluding your kamwali bai – everyone is in sync with the latest mobile tech!
Then, why should we, in one of the most advanced systems of schooling, resist the advantages of technology in the classroom and at home?
Surat has often been labelled as an educationally backward city. As its citizens, the onus is on us to do away with this slur on our reputation. We will not remain behind in educational issues. Our schools already have smart boards, T.V.s and iPads in the classroom. We have a Wi-fi campus. Let us extend our classroom beyond mere textbooks and task sheets and go global. If we wish our children to compete on an international platform, then we must equip them with the skills required for this. We must look forward, not backward.
So what has happened in the ongoing education revolution in the world? The same technology (TV, iPads, iPods, iPhones) that you use for entertainment is also used to provide learning tools in the classroom. In the world’s most technologically and educationally advanced nations, class blogs are now enabling home and school to connect on different fronts.
DPS Tapi is only just entering into this new and exciting world of learning through class blogs. Our teachers are exploring the various ways of learning with the class blog. There is so much more potential for learning with the class blog than in the printed task sheets! We wish to make learning multidimensional. Why remain limited to the one-dimensional print media? The blogs will make it possible for students to continue enjoying their audio-visual learning experience, not just in school but at home, as well.
I have spoken earlier about the usefulness of class blogs in my post on Extension Blogs and in my DPST-CIR-02-13.14. The articles in the links below are evidence in support of this innovative move forward by DPS Tapi:
The class blog is a crucial aspect of the educational vision of DPS Tapi. We are slow and cautious innovators and do not rush into anything without thinking deeply of all the pros and cons. We understand that any revolutionary innovation in education has to confront an initial spate of reactionary criticism. We welcome the criticism because it improves our functioning. We have already begun parent-teacher interactions on the uses of new mobile technology in teaching. Our staff are here to provide individual guidance and suggestions to parents on technological hitches that they may face.
On this post, I will deal with the parental problems that have come up so far, in the FAQ mode:
- I do not have a computer or an Internet connection: You have selected the very advanced DPS system of schooling for your ward in order to ensure the best possible learning. At school, your ward goes well beyond the textbook with the smart-board, iPad and internet access. Hence, it would be counter-productive to your educational aim if your ward is deprived of the same facility at home.
- What happens when my Internet is not working?: When your (or our) Internet is not working, then postpone the homework by a day. Discuss possible solutions with your teacher at school, the next day. There will be occasional technical glitches at your end (and at ours). These are temporary and can be overcome/minimised in time.
- My ward’s eyes are over-strained from staring at the screen: The homework tasks all have fixed time-limits well under the eye-strain mark. Besides, the entire task does not involve looking continuously at the screen. In any case, you should minimise the brightness of the screen to acceptable limits and blink frequently. Yet, if your ward’s eyes are still over-strained, then stay off the class blog and just ask your ward to do the exercises in the text-book to the extent his/her eyes can bear the strain. Definitely consult your ophthalmologist. You should get an eye check-up at regular intervals for your ward. Reduce T.V. and film viewing. I am only surprised that the same students have used the class smart-board / TV or attended computer and iPad lessons with no eye complaints so far!
- Why not just keep sending printed task-sheets?: During the last academic year, we had task-sheets uploaded on the school website and homework posted on the class blog. Yet, many of you did not access your class blog because you received printed task sheets. In keeping with environment-friendly policy, we are gradually phasing out paper. The entire task-sheets will continue to be uploaded on the school website (Resources) at the end of each cycle.
- Then, I must buy a printer and print everything for myself: Please do not use a printer or print anything from our school website or class blogs. If you have to fill in and return a form, then, we will send it to you in print. If your ward has to do something on a task sheet and submit, then we will send it to you in print. As you may expect, we will go online with this function too, in time. Then, you can do your submissions online and save much time. Meanwhile, you can download and save pdf.docs in your own computer or tablet, for later reference.
- My ward is too young to be exposed to the dangers of the Internet: Definitely the Internet is dangerous, but these children are digital natives. If you are scared to enter – they will run in without waiting for you! Your ward is old enough to access the content on his/her class blog but you should always monitor any net-surfing. Keep your Search engine’s safety settings on and periodically, track the history of your ward’s searches. Talk to them about the Do’s and Don’ts of the Internet. If your ward is coming to school, then it is not too early for you to be aware of the Internet safety rules.
- Is this all, or are you planning to go further?: Gradually, all circulars and other notifications will be only on the website, not in print. We will continue to notify you of uploads via the school diary. Moreover, we will set homework on iPad apps on a regular basis, very soon. Anything that challenges our students to learn more and learn better – and makes learning more fun – we are ready to explore!
- On tuition/coaching class versus the class blog: Surat students rely heavily on tuition/coaching classes. I consider this a needless waste of time – and against learner development towards autonomy. I am aware that it is difficult for tuition coaches to access class blogs daily in order to do the home-work for their school-going customers. The sooner these paid-homework shops shut down, the better for the educational reputation of Surat!
We (teachers and learners) invite you to join us in taking the first steps of a long journey ahead. The route is challenging, because the signposts are constantly changing. There are many dangers of social-networking and Internet surfing to guard against. But we will get nowhere by hiding our heads in the sand and refusing to look at changes that will overtake us and sweep us off our feet if we are not ready for them.
Above all, do remember that your children see you buying and using the latest cars, phones, T.V.s, A.C.s, refrigerators, ovens and other gadgets. Then, they will definitely demand to know, why they should not get to access their class blogs or use learning Apps on the iPad or iPhone.
I would like all parents to read this post and decide for themselves where they wish their children to be on the global education scenario. Those who are with DPS Tapi in our Learning Partnership should Like this post and talk positively to other parents they meet at the bus-stop or at school. Those who have further questions/doubts, please post these in Comments. I will definitely answer ASAP.