Technological Enhanced Knowledge
What is pedagogy?
The other day I was reading a very interesting paper on E- Learning. The author was looking at the various critical dimensions of E- Learning, analyzing them in the context of technology, that is technology aided instruction. He started with the concept of the computer and the teaching learning dynamics that it infuses.
True, there has been a revolution of teaching learning processes, thanks to the computer and the internet. But this is a 'silent' revolution, in the sense that many are not aware of it, in India and also the lamentable fact that both the young and the old are 'misusing' the computer and the internet.
I personally feel that the computer and the internet are technological tools, which must be used creatively to exacerbate teaching learning methods and heuristics. How can we do this? Firstly we need to understand the existence and thriving of open source software. FOSS as it is popularly known, that is Free And Open Source Software can take us to the world of knowledge and information. There is plenitude of such sources, mainly in the form of journals, literary and social sites. Articles can be downloaded all free of cost. Such activity can be appended to the conventional classroom teaching, and be integrated with it. We will then have an extended technological setting in the prototypical classroom. Learning will gradually slip boundaries, will be formless and global. Search engines will help in the teacher's efforts towards a more eclectic pedagogy.
Secondly the teacher and the taught can always stay in touch with academic matters online synchronously or asynchronously: that is both within the ambit of real, simultaneous time or out of by emails. This is the simplest way of internet teaching.
We, that is where I work in, the IGNOU Institute For Vocational Education & Training Shillong, have started an online programme on Valuation of Real Estate where the course material is sent online, the assignments are sent online to students, and they submit the assignments online. We have implemented this programme in collaboration with an organization on valuation located in Kolkata: Institution of Estate Managers and Appraisers, a State Government Recognized Body and perhaps the only such registered institution in the country on valuation.
On Saturdays we have the virtual classroom where there is interaction, two way audio interaction between the teachers and the taught. The learners are able to view the teachers with the help of a web camera. Questions are asked through text chat and the teacher answers them, extends discussion and gives examples. Hence we are blending both traditional and non traditional forms of teaching and learning. This is a very interesting experiment that we are conducting and there are 48 learners all over the country.
Text chat can also be profitably used for interaction in pedagogy. I think this is a very important technological improvisation in teaching and learning. The web is becoming a technological tool for teaching, and the sooner we understand its import the better it will be for both conventional and non conventional learning such as Distance Education.
Even the FM Stations which have broader band with can be used to impart instruction. The FM Channels have stronger outreach and in fact can be a catalyst in promoting education free of cost. The Indira Gandhi National Open University has its radio stations all over the country known as Gyan Vani and these radio stations are playing a very significant role in disseminating knowledge and playing the catalytic role of technological enhanced pedagogy. In fact, since mobile phones are also integrated with the internet the same processes may be adopted through mobile phones and telephony not only to impart instruction but also to send student alerts which the Indira Gandhi National University does such as reminding students of the last date for submitting re-registration forms or examination forms.
Technological enhanced teaching can be impersonal but it also can be personal if the teacher is in direct contact with the students through chat or emails. In fact, it can be a wonderful and creative extension of the conventional classroom, at all levels of education: school, college and university. It is high time that we think of the computer, the internet and the mobile as a means to higher ends rather than an end. The latter if construed can lead to abuse of technology leading in fact to cyber crime and things like stalking, or for that matter pornography.
The Times of India for example has a spiritual website by the name of Speaking Tree. In fact, teachers should be motivators in guiding students to such sites and making use of them creatively.
I remember six to eight years back there was a site which I can't relocate now: talkingcommunities.com which enabled anyone to upload lectures, involve themselves in classroom teaching using the multitasking device of the moodle, podcasting and computer broadcasting. In fact, also skype can be used for lecturing in a one to many situation which I experimented with students in East Carolina University.
This article is meant to be a pointer to both teachers and students alike to use technology freely but creatively.
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Ananya S Guha
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