Smarter In More Ways Than One
The five kinds of unusual students classroom technology empowers
Intelligence comes in many forms, and our schools must cater to them all. Here are the five different types of students educational technology is already helping:
Maharashtra’s education board recently received a lot of flak for wanting teachers to conduct remedial classes to help underperforming students, but not defining how these classes should be conducted.The aim of this initiative was to ensure that poor performance was not a reason to leave behind students and to give them focused attention to enable them to succeed. It is clear that terrible implementation led to the failure of a well-intentioned policy. Smaller groups receiving more focused attention are bound to perform better, but the paucity of time, resources, and finances often make this an impossible task. This paucity can be addressed via technology. Fedena allows teachers and students to create discussion groups, share individualised assignments, and track learning at an individual level, leading to more focused teaching.
Even in the most progressive countries, teachers have observed that women are often sidelined, spoken over, and ignored during classroom discussions. Considering how effective these discussions can be in understanding and ideating new concepts, the lack of space given to an entire gender can be exceedingly harmful to our young achievers. While the problem might not be eliminated entirely (after all, the “there are no girls on the internet” trope exists for a reason), platforms like Fedena are inherently structured in a way where silencing is not as easy, since discussions tend to be in smaller, more dedicated groups leading to more focused engagement.
Students in remote parts of India, are usually underfunded, under-resourced, and under-supported, leading to poorer performance compared to their urban counterparts. This creates a caste system in education – a field that is supposed to be the key to social mobility. Technology can often be an equalizer for students who don’t have access to the same resources their urban peers do. Virtual classrooms bring rural students closer to teachers who might be working out of a different part of the world, access to learning materials has been made easier than ever through deeper internet permeation in our villages, and platforms like Fedena allow for educators to remotely support and track students who might otherwise slip through the cracks.
Students with Special Needs
Special needs students are often divorced from the mainstream because traditional thinking leads us to believe that interaction with mainstream students is ineffective. However, research shows this is not the case. Interaction with mainstream students is helpful to students with developmental delays because they learn from their peers. It is not just they who benefit, however. Special needs students also make effective tutors– where they affect their mainstream tutees’ achievements and behaviors. Online platforms are one mode by which such interactions are facilitated. Environmental challenges that adversely affect special needs students who might suffer from sensory sensitivities are eliminated, it gives both mainstream and special needs students time and space to reflect on their thinking and responses to each other, and the ability to define focus and group size aids learning.
In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, New York Times bestselling author Susan Cain, asserts that our educational institutions are designed for extroverts. What happens to our quieter students then? Platforms that allow for more regulated opportunities to engage are a solution, and this is where education technology comes into play. Online discussions on Fedena can be broken down by group or subject, leading to engagement that is more focused on the topic, rather than the vagaries of social interaction. The distance and time offered might also encourage those who often don’t speak in the classroom to share their thoughts after some reflection.
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