We are in times where transformational changes are taking place. This year alone, we have seen two predominant developments – one directly related to the space of education and the other, an unfortunate health-compromising development that has forced certain changes upon us. The first development is the introduction of the New Education Policy 2020, which has proposed a sea of changes for the entire education system, including the medium through which knowledge is imparted, emphasizing the adoption of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT). The second unfortunate development, the pandemic, has disrupted regular learning and forced everyone to adopt changes in how knowledge is consumed. The common outcome of these developments is the emphasis on using a ‘digital chalk’ compared to the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ method.
Digital learning or the inclusion of ICT in learning is not a new development per se. It began with the involvement of computers in teaching as early as 1960, followed by videoconferencing with VHS tapes and DVDs being utilized in classrooms. With the advent of the World Wide Web, web-based learning picked pace. Webcams and webcasting added to the available tools. It has given rise to many innovations, even to the extent of making a slate/board come alive. The utilization of smart boards at schools allowed for a lot of interactive learning and broadened learning horizons. Students were no more left to the mercies of their imagination, and the audio-visual components enriched learning in several ways. Handheld devices and computer testing, applications and gamification have further revolutionized education. Online distance learning is yet another outcome of technology in education. With the pandemic situation, these aspects have more or less become the norm.
In sync with these developments, the revolutionary New Education Policy 2020 has also advocated for extensive use of technology in teaching, which removes language and physical distance barriers. It aims to transform India into a digitally empowered society and as a knowledge economy. It has even proposed establishing an autonomous body, National Educational Technology Forum, to enhance learning, assessment, planning, and administration to use technology in education. Several questions have arisen regarding the adaptability of online learning for certain kinds of subjects that require practical learning or the importance of effective and psychomotor dimensions of learning. However, with dramatic scientific and technological advances, such as the advent of Big Data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, 3D/7D virtual reality, it is important that we lay emphasis on developing a skilled workforce that can utilize these tools and that has to start at an early age.
Involvement of such technology is highly advantageous for it improves the ‘how of learning’, encouraging critical thinking, problem-solving and many other life skills as prescribed by the World Health Organization. It makes learning experiential, holistic, integrated, inquiry-driven, discovery-based, learner-centered, discussion-based, analysis-based and leaves our learners not only cognitively equipped but overall as well-rounded, rational, and empathetic citizens.
Samsidh was one of the earliest institutions that quickly responded to the changes in the educational systems. The institution acknowledged the risks and dangers involved and strategically leveraged the advantage of technology. It has adopted digital learning to establish smart boards, internet access in classrooms and a fully networked educational environment. New circumstances have now necessitated that we are ready with alternative modes of quality education, and Samsidh has yet again successfully responded to the same. Today, considering aspects such as availability of digital infrastructure, children’s exposure to screen time, availability of help at home from parents and guardians, apart from complete support and guidance of teachers, online classes have been devised accordingly. This has ensured access to continued quality learning. Uniqueness also lies in the fact that Samsidh has emphasized making student learning seamless and equipped the staff with suitable training to be effective online educators. Thus, the institution has addressed numerous challenges that arise with digital learning.