Education

Classrooms: How should they change with the times?

Parvathy Jayakrishnan
 Classrooms: How should they change with the times?

Technology is everywhere. What it truly implies is that knowledge is there right at your fingertips. Paper maps have been replaced by Google maps, if you want grocery, you order online, to get the latest news, you subscribe to it on your smartphone. With digitisation replacing manual work in most areas of use, it is inevitable that the role of a teacher using traditional methods of teaching will soon become redundant. With most teachers themselves having learnt in the blackboard-bench set-up, it is a change that they have to adapt to and embrace to make classroom learning more effective.

With ‘flipped classrooms’ taking over traditional ones, teachers are slowly making progress in modifying their teaching methods.

A flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content, often online, outside of the classroom. It moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework, into the classroom. In a flipped classroom, students watch online lectures, collaborate in online discussions, or carry out research at home while engaging in concepts in the classroom with the guidance of a mentor.

Excited about sharing their views, students from schools across India spoke up about how they want their classrooms to be and what are the changes in the method of teaching that can be adopted to include technology…

 

Interactive discussions, fewer tests
“No longer are classrooms restricted to teachers and books, as technology has changed the face of classrooms. With everything in the syllabus easily available online, students no longer need to carry books, thus reducing their load to school. Instead, they can just carry a laptop or a tab. Teachers can use projectors to highlight contents and use television to show informative documentaries. They can also use computers to prepare charts and graphs to disseminate information in a nutshell. Visual information in the form of charts and videos help students to understand concepts better. Smart boards are also widely used in schools nowadays, which reduce time wasted in teachers writing information on the board. The use of technology makes the classroom more interactive and colourful, thus making it easy to learn and more interesting to the students. And since this generation was brought up with technology all around them, using it in education will make them feel at ease. As the syllabus content is all online, students need not buy or print it again, as they can just see it on their tabs, or on the smart board.

Although, I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said that the blackboard-benches format is not completely relevant today. I mean, it has been used for so many years, so many generations, and has helped students learn. But as the years go on by, everything is changing, and so should the method of teaching. So the switch-over to electronic media is the right thing to do. The blackboard-benches format gives a primitive feel to the class and the children feel lackluster. In this format, the teachers have to put extra energy and creativity to capture the interest of the pupil. It is also time consuming as the teacher has to spend time writing everything on the board. But one thing that this format does is the bonding between the teacher and the pupil. Technology cannot have such a great impact on a students’ life as a teacher does.

If classrooms are to be made interactive, students should be given activities related to the topic taught so that they understand the concept better. Emphasis should be laid more on teaching subjects and coordinating it with everyday activities, so the student can implement it on a daily basis or at least when required. Just learning theoretically is no longer relevant in today's world. Technology is fast changing, so quick thinking and implementing is essential to survive in this competitive world. Students should be encouraged to think differently and discuss their ideas with each other to lay the foundation for team work.

I’m glad that many teachers today encourage students to refer to and study content online. They too are updating their topics with recent developments in technology. Surely integrating these external learning systems with the school system will help students learn better. Just the idea of being tech-savvy makes the student thrilled. YouTube channels often offer unique and easy to understand techniques for students to apply in their exams. They provide an alternate way of teaching from the way it is usually taught in class, if students don’t exactly grasp the main concept. Online teaching usually explains concepts based on problems encountered in daily life, so the concept is better understood with its relevance.

In my dream class, there wouldn’t be any tests, or at least not as often. I would rather have interactive discussions with my co-students in which the entire class participates and everybody gets to air their opinion. Teachers should explain concepts with live demos or 3 dimensional models to have a better impact. Instead of writing, they should present the matter in powerpoint presentations thus reducing time delay. After explanation, they can show us some documentaries which will inform us how advanced the concept has grown today. I would also like spacious rooms with comfortable seating and colourful walls, with no restrictions on movements because if I am not comfortable, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the class.”

Adnan Ashriya

Class XI

Alpha Cambridge International School,Trichy


Making the classroom inclusive

“This is the 21st century and the nation is blooming with new technologies. Turn any side and you can find at least one thing which is automatic or it works on AI (Artificial Intelligence). While we have embraced it in multiple applications, why can’t we use it for our education? Education and Artificial Intelligence are two tracks which we can combine to make our learning better. Why should we carry heavy books and notes to school when we can have our content in our portable electronic gadgets at one swipe? Tests and homework can be done online and the students can have their own login ID and password to make it secure enough.

The classroom can be made inclusive by creating an academic support, a change in our curriculum, adjusting ranking calculations, creating a respectful school community and create a space for discussion.

In my dream classroom, blackboards would be replaced by smart TVs, our books and notes will be replaced by our own laptops, students will have their own pods and working spaces, they will have their own personal and customised lockers. They will have access to their phones only when allowed and they are free to access the range of e-books in the school’s website.”

Aparna

Class XI

Alpha Cambridge International School,Trichy

 

Tech should not replace teachers

“With the syllabus content easily available online, we can make the best use of improved technology in our classrooms. Technology should not replace teachers. Its main use is to enable students learn better and stimulate individual learning. This can be done by introducing tab-oriented learning in classrooms.

A classroom must have a black board in which concepts can be explained well to the students. In a classroom which is very advanced, blackboards can be replaced with smart boards in which teachers explain the concepts in the form of modules.

An inclusive classroom is a general education classroom where children with different abilities, capabilities and disabilities learn together. The class can be made by providing assistance to individual students. Another key aspect of an inclusive classroom is accessibility. Group learning can also be encouraged to make sure that every student of the class cooperates with one another.

Today, teachers are open to students learning from and discovering new YouTube tutorials or education apps. Integrating an external learning system provides better understanding of the concepts. But this alone is not going to help out, teachers have to take the children to the labs and show live experiments. But of course education apps provide students extra notes to learn and they are able to score good grades in examinations with the help of these apps and tutorials.

My dream classroom should be like heaven on earth which will contain a comfortable cushion chair with a table and every student needs to have a separate locker in which their things can be kept safe. The classroom should allow students to have their own laptops. The teacher should be so friendly with the students and they should give a few chances for them to make mistakes. There has to be a relaxation time of 10 minutes after every period. Books should not be carried; everything should be taught online and assignments also should be done online.”

Evangeline Esther J

Class IX

Alpha Cambridge International School,Trichy.

 

Switch to e-books
“Majority of Indian schools do not make use of all of the modern technology available via laptops and tablets. We carry cartloads of books and notebooks to and from school. If you lose a textbook or notebook, you may have a hard time learning in school and studying for exams. But, all of these textbooks are available online, so all you need is a tablet or a computer, and you can have access to those textbooks anywhere and at any time. You don’t have to worry about losing your textbooks. E-books are much cheaper too plus you are helping the environment by not using paper. So, from some of my personal experiences in the USA, I feel classrooms should provide students with tablets/laptops, and allow them to access textbooks using the device. Notebooks can also be replaced with tablets/laptops because there are free programs available like Google Docs (which I am using now), which allow you to type notes and access them from any device with the same Google Account and an internet connection, you can also save some documents to your computer in offline mode.

Blackboards and benches are not only boring but also unhelpful, they only allow you to write on them and they don’t allow for any interaction. Smart boards, on the other hand, are much more relevant today, a smart-board is basically a large TV, the size of a blackboard, which acts like a tablet, you can use it to play games, write things (using a program, smart-board markers and dusters), you can play videos on it, and write on the video/PPT, and do everything you could possibly do with a tablet, you just need a computer and cable. These smart-boards are very intuitive and attractive; they can keep students actively participating in the class and supplement learning. It may be a bit expensive but the advantages outweigh the cost. Benches should be replaced with individual tables and chairs arranged in groups for easier discussions.

The use of technology, in the right way, can even make the most boring lesson intuitive; there should be a balance between fun technology and learning. For example, if you are sitting in a biology class with a blackboard, you may be bored. But think about this, what if you had a tablet, which showed what the organ looked like and how it worked, while your teacher was showing a video on a smartboard, you and your friends were having an engaging discussion about this organ, and your tablet is taking notes based on what the teacher was saying based on speech recognition. That sounds much more fun and intuitive right? If every classroom was like this, everyone could do well in school, through a balance between fun and learning.
I feel, personally, that in my school, that teachers are not very open to students learning from YouTube videos on their own. The teachers do show us videos, but are not very encouraging towards us learning from YouTube videos that we choose. At my school, we do not use educational apps very much. But when I was in the USA, in my school, we were provided with MacBook Airs by the school, we did not have much-written homework at all! We were asked to watch YouTube videos and write about them, do lessons on apps like Khan Academy, and more than all of that, our teachers encouraged us a lot to go out and learn things ourselves on educational apps and share useful YouTube videos that we found with the whole class, this made learning much easier, more fun, and much more intuitive. I was able to learn things easily with the help of these apps, programs, and websites. By using computers more, I also learned how to type quickly and how to search the web effectively.

My dream classroom is not really a classroom; it is more of a system, which is followed by Middle Schools in some western countries. It is a system where the students go to different classrooms and attend class, they are provided with lockers to store their books and personal items. What I would like the individual classrooms to have is a SMART Board 7275 Pro, I would like for the students to be provided with Macs, the students should be seated in groups with individual desks and chairs, and the room should have some board games and cards if we finish early.”

Ishaan Masilamony  

Class VII

Alpha Cambridge International School,Trichy

 

Reduction in technology

“We embrace the benefits of living in a high tech world—with high tech classrooms already, in my opinion. It’s high time we reduce the use of technology during sessions with teachers which includes a non-virtual conversation with a complete understanding of each other. I definitely prefer the ancient way of teaching that had more practicality and more physical manoeuvre than the use of smart Televisions and iPads. I feel that these gadgets are driving children to addiction and isolation, with most of them living in a hypothetical world.

Use of technology in education has come a long way since the earliest times of human civilization. While embarking on aids with advanced technology, we need to take full cognizance of the lessons from the past, striking a balance between embracing new methods of teaching and learning while holding on to the timeless principles of education.

Lessons can be enhanced with the right video. Something visual and entertaining that speaks to the subject the teachers teach breaks up the monotony of a lecture, brings some fun into the lesson, and keeps us more engaged and interested in the subject.”

Jyotsna

Class IX

Alpha Cambridge International School,Trichy

 

Getting interactive with technology
“Teachers have to rethink their teaching methods, as this is a flipped classroom we are talking about. Students' expertise in online communication can play a major role here. Letting the students create, collaborate and get interactive with technology can make their learning a whole lot fun. Adding a few simulators in higher grades would be good too.

Living in the 21st century, blackboards aren't exactly the first thing that comes to everyone's minds when given a choice between black and white boards. When someone prefers an older technology to a newer one, there's usually both a utilitarian reason and an aesthetic or nostalgic reason. Blackboards are better tools than whiteboards especially at showing processes, as they force teachers to work more slowly and deliberately and think, whether they are going through a complicated problem, or just simply noting down thoughts and ideas.

Making classrooms inclusive can be a piece of cake if thought thoroughly, by taking each of the classroom activities in mind. Electronic books, speech software etc. can be brought in for "reading", whereas grammar or spelling checkers, word processors etc. can be a part of "writing". There can also be eye glasses and eye magnifiers for "vision" too.

Honestly, not all teachers encourage technology to interfere in education but there are an equal amount of teachers who do embolden smart learning which makes their lectures immensely exciting. Adding a few of these "high tech" procedures, will not only help other students in their learning, but also make schooling fascinating.

First thing, my dream classroom won't have any of the hard table and chairs we sit on, instead it would have plush and comfy chairs with every student having their own study space which they go to after every lesson for a 10 minute break to revise everything they learnt in the past hour. My classroom will be 10 times the size of a normal classroom inclusive of a small "your zone" where a person can go relax and come back during intervals. Smart tables in the main space for learning and will be placed where interaction between the students and teachers can be facilitated, not forgetting the podium upfront for class seminars and activities.”

Shridhi Singhvi

Class IX

Alpha Cambridge International School,Trichy

 

Real-world problems in the classroom
“An important use of technology is its capacity to create new opportunities for curriculum and instruction by bringing real-world problems into the classroom for students to explore and solve. Technology can help to create an active environment in which students not only solve problems, but also find their own problems. This approach to learning is very different from the typical school classrooms, in which students spend most of their time learning facts from a lecture or text and doing the problems at the end of the chapter. Learning through real-world contexts is not a new idea. For a long time, schools have made sporadic efforts to give students concrete experiences through field trips, laboratories, and work-study programmes. But these activities have seldom been at the heart of academic instruction, and they have not been easily incorporated into schools because of logistical constraints and the amount of subject material to be covered.

Traditional blackboards can be used for geometry, botany subjects where the lecturer has to explain with a drawing. But I feel newer methods of teaching are good for the students to understand subjects better.

In my dream classroom, I will ensure that work flows throughout the classroom. I will create a place where students can meet and feel secure - students learn from each other, they need a consistent environment where they can have face-to-face interactions. I would place the teacher's desk at the back of the room rather than the front- this lends the classroom to maximizing student learning through communication, reflection and reinforcement rather than the traditional "chalk and talk" setup

Of course yes, I would surely exclude the system of memorizing and vomiting and I would completely encourage the use of technology as much as possible, not only for easy access but also for interaction between students.”
V Deepika

Class IX

Alpha Cambridge International School, Trichy

 

Knowledge over marks

“Our classrooms can be made progressive by integrating technology into our teaching in order to make it as easy as possible for the children to learn and in order to

give the students another perspective of a topic being taught. We can also use web services such as Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams to remind students of

homeworks and assignments by posting them online, rather than the old school diaries.

The blackboard-benches format is irrelevant in today’s culture and in fact, the old school system hinders students from learning the subject matter in an effective way. Using blackboards for subjects such as Physics, Geography, Chemistry, and many more does not paint a wholesome picture and sometimes even leaves the students confused since they can not completely understand the concept. By saying so, I’m not stating that black boards should be completely eradicated, instead, blackboards should be used as a supplement to a more digital classroom.

The best way to make the classrooms more inclusive is to govern the school pupil using love and friendliness instead of instilling fear. By this I mean that, the students should have the freedom to do what they want in order to gain the needed experience from school life, rather than just adhere to preset guidelines in order to pass a set of papers. The school staff should only be there to guide students in the right direction when they veer off, rather than define a strict path for them, which they have to navigate as per the wishes of the staff. The classrooms can also be made more friendly by decorating the walls with posters, letting students wear appropriate yet colorful dresses of their choice once or twice a week, and letting them choose what they want to learn from an earlier stage of their educational careers. I think the teachers nowadays are very open to outside help from multimedia sources, however, there are some teachers (very few) who are against this, and even demand their students to learn traditionally. I think that integrating multimedia sources into our schools is a progressive and crucial move that schools all over the world need to make. There are apps now such as Byju’s learning app, which supplement the students’ understanding of concepts, and in many cases even aid the students in clearing any confusions that may have risen by the old school, traditional style of teaching. Although schools should use educational apps to supplement their teaching, they should be careful not to use applications which are only focused on making a profit, rather than help the students. Schools should consider using a source that is free for all and which is non profit such as Khan Academy in order to guarantee that their students can get the best that is available as of right now. Lastly, the schools should also be careful only to use the multimedia sources as a “supplement” to the education given in school, rather than using it as the primary source of education for the students. My dream classroom is one where, I can learn whatever I want in a way that is tailored for me, rather than me having to adapt to the system. My dream classroom is one where, I can have a teacher like Aamir Khan from “Taare Zameen Par”, rather than have a teacher like the principal from “3 Idiots”. Finally, my dream classroom is one where, I can go in order to learn and increase my knowledge, rather than go to a classroom to score good marks in the exams and to study in a good college.”

Sricharan Sridhar

Class IX

Alpha Cambridge International School,Trichy

 

Need to adapt practical learning

“Everybody wants to learn technology, for no doubt technology is mastering this modern world. So why not utilise it effectively? Rather than writing by hand, typing on MSWord allows students to cut and paste, save their work and use spell checkers and thesauruses. First of all, students need edu-pads at schools which should replace notebooks and pens. Surveys show that most children show reduced interest in studies because they are forced to write. Typing and surfing might lighten their workload.

‘Games’ linked with academics are very essential because it is said that playing games activates brain dopamine and improves memory.

‘No Stress Learner’ enables us to be updated even when we are on leave. Lectures by teachers are recorded and played later, so that we never miss a point due to illness or any other reasons. Technology might be helpful but has demerits too- high cost, availability, distraction etc. If these factors are checked, then technology becomes a great boon for future learning.

Exams should be excluded from schools because the main aim of exam is assessment. Students should be allowed to frame their own queries and doubts and indulge in self-assessment. Students should not be forced to learn a subject which they are not interested in. Rather they should be encouraged to acquire intense knowledge in the subject of their choice. Entrance exams should be practical. Medical and Engineering professions are not jobs of theory but of practice. Finally, schools should adapt practical learning. So, my dream classroom should be able to satisfy these expectations.”
Swarupaa Sree S

Class XII

Alpha Wisdom Vidyashram

 

Quest for application-oriented learning

“In the olden days, the classroom atmosphere was built around the ‘chalk and talk’ method but this rigid practice has been altered dramatically in the recent years. This factory model of learning has now changed and thus the 21st century requires a learning system which indulges in the use of technology. Students should be familiarized with tools like, ‘Word Processing Tools’, ‘Presentation Software’, ‘Course Management Tools’, Lecture Capture Tools’ etc. to enhance their learning. They must be given free access to educational apps available online to boost their learning. Opportunity must be created for students to participate in online seminars, discussions and conferences. Virtual field trips to various places could give students detailed idea of what is taught in the lessons because visuals speak louder than words. Anytime and anywhere learning is possible with purposeful technology.

The blackboard-benches format, although traditional, is still relevant and has ease of presentation. Calculations, diagrams, sketches, maps can be presented effectively on blackboards. Every tutor may not be familiar with new technology but the traditional method is handy to all. Moreover, this method is inexpensive therefore is accessible to schools of any category and any category of students. The blackboard-benches classroom develops interaction between teacher and students and among students.

In ancient times, the ‘Gurukulam system’ enhanced knowledge and honed the skills of the students. But today unfortunately, education comprises syllabus completion, projects, assessments, homeworks, exams etc. within the four walls. A classroom must adapt practical and application-oriented learning. For example, learning related to agriculture, working of drones, rockets etc. should be practical than theoretical. My dream classroom should have access to facilities such as ‘Cloud Technology’ and ‘3D Printer’ to meet the needs of new generation learners. Using holograms in classroom teaching may seem practically difficult but introducing the same in small scale will help to teach the children how it works. Principles followed by the Japanese educational system are wonderful. Our educational system too should prepare the students for their career from childhood rather than just producing the graduates. Students must be taught values and how to respect nature and fellow humans rather than preparing them for exams. Classroom should not only have books and blackboard but also have amenities to learn traditional arts. Digital development in classroom alone will not help the learning to be effective. So, my dream classroom must be an inclusive classroom with all possible features to supply to the needs to satisfy my quest for learning.”

Oviya. S

Class XI

Alpha Wisdom Vidyashram

 

No more four-walled classrooms

“The syllabus content from online education is extremely useful and it is an easy learning equipment for students in the present generation. Our classrooms will also adapt to this kind of learning by setting up Smart Boards. Teaching on blackboards helped us when we were in smaller classes. In higher classes, it is easier to use the Smart Board System with whiteboard which will attract the students’ mind to capture the syllabus content easily.

Today, we are happy that a number of teachers have started posting content on their YouTube channels for their students to benefit from. Some students may have doubts about a topic taught and may feel shy to express it in class. Now, they can easily find answers to these question by referring to external learning systems.

Our dream classroom should be a “pathway for making students future nation builders”. Great philosophers like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Mahatma Gandhi learnt about life from their exposure to the society and not by learning in classrooms. We believe that it is time to end the concept of a four-walled classroom.”
Afzar A (Class XI) and Sharlene A (Class XII)

Alpha Plus Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Trichy

 

Free area minus distractions

“Rethinking to the 19th century (inverting the traditional ways) would be a good choice when comparing the way of studies. Making the students feel relaxed can reduce the stress of everybody. A whole core of new subjects ought to be included due to tomorrow’s way of work. Books can be optional because everyone might not be comfortable with online syllabus. Doing projects practically from online tutorials is a good idea too. Beautiful places that can make the student feel good to be at school with art, plants, music (when needed), comfortable seating with fast internet access would be all that is needed. The ideal classroom would be like a free area with no distractions and teachers cannot be excluded because no kid is perfect, so an experienced guide is needed.”
Mir Zahid Ahmed

Class IX

Alpha Cambridge International School,Trichy

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