Things I shared at TECH 2018 at UNSECO MGIEP

            

It was wonderful sharing with audience at TECH (Transforming Education Conference for Humanity) 2018 at UNSECO MGIEP on 17 November 2018. This blog is just to share a gist of what I presented at the conference. I hope you enjoy reading it.

I think creation is an important aspect of transformation. However, in our education system as Sir Ken Robinson said that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it.

Besides creativity, ASER data is telling a lot about the huge academic gap kids have in India. One of the many reason is the current pedagogy we have in class which is more about “the teachers” prepare and transmit information to learners and “the learners” role is to receive, store, and put down the information in examination paper. This helps students in classroom to clear the examination but doesn’t empower them to critique and create to be conscious and responsible towards self and society.

I am sure we all have seen classrooms lagging behind the grade level. Generally what you would see in the classroom is read aloud of texts, assignments, discussions, assessments, activities to understand content and may be teacher showing videos/presentation about a content to help kids understand.

I think that are three main challenges with current pedagogy,

1) Teacher Led

Firstly, the classrooms are mostly teacher led where students would mostly be doing things what teacher have instructed which never let them take initiatives to learn and come with ideas.

2) Passive Engagement

Second was passive engagement where kids are receiving information and storing it without engaging, thinking, interacting and reflecting about the information.

3) Lack of Opportunities to Create and Showcase

Thirdly, there are rarely opportunities for them to create something out of the information received and showcase to people around and have feedback which is a good transformative experience.

It’s good that we have realized that we need pedagogy to provide transformational experience by letting kids to think, critique and create their knowledge, belief and vision.

Digital Technologies seems a good tool to have transformational pedagogies in classroom as it allows, scale, personalization, speed, increase engagement visualization, imagination and ability to create things. However, we are still looking forward to know,

  • What does it look like?
  • How does it will increase the learning outcome of the main stream subjects?
  • How does it help to building creativity, critical and systematic thinking skills?

19th century was more about electricity which changed the way we lived. Now, it’s the computers that are significantly revolutionizing the things around. We can see it is transforming agriculture, energy, shopping medicine and many more things by allowing us to create technologies increasing our effectiveness and efficiency. One of the fundamental things in creating these technologies is making computer understand that what it is supposed to do to complete a task. And this is called computer coding. Using the ability of computers to do task at very high speeds and with their decision making abilities we are able to do things easily which were earlier not possible or difficult for humans.

For me, coding is a tool which lets you think and create magic. Thus, I believe that coding has a lot in transformative pedagogy.

I was introduced to Scratch in second year of my teaching career. Scratch is a programming language which is block based which means that you can just drag, drop and snip the blocks to write your program to create things. I prefer Scratch to bring coding in classroom because,

  • It’s easy to use, no need to remember syntax
  • It allows you to brig relevance and context as you can include your surroundings in your creation.
  • And it allows you to see things as you are building which brings immediate gratification which is wanted a lot by today’s generation.

I have seen that coding games and animations on Scratch can be a good resource to introduce objectives or let student practice certain learning outcomes. I have seen that it helps kids visualize, build curiosity, engage different types of learners and help them remember things. This leads to better understanding and sustainable learning with excitement increasing the learning outcome.

Few of the benefits of coding games and animation to introduce learning objective in class for teachers are,

1) It saves time as you don’t have to research on Google to find games or animations to engage students.

2) Moreover, you are able to create things specific to the need of classroom in a way that it supports  teaching style of teacher.

3) Also, its free, perpetual and a great resource for school.

Kids also code and start creating things they want to make which could be about self, things learnt in classroom or something they would have seen in their community and sat after school in computer labs thinking, discussing and coding projects. And when their project is finished they would present in front of all class. Here, the role of teacher is redefined as they now have to engage in discussions asking questions to help them simplify things and connect them with resources

The shifts which I have seen in classroom with coding are,

1) Kids are taking Ownership

From a teacher led classroom where they followed instructions, kids are taking ownership as they come with ideas to create, have discussions, code, fail, try again and keep on doing it.

2) Consumer to Creator

Kids were now not only consuming the technology but they are thinking and using information to create things which are not only restricted to class but also about the things from the community.

3) Kids realize their growth

Kids showcase things created with peers, let them use it, have feedback on it. This allows them to see and feel joy that how their skills are being used. This builds confidence and allows them to do more.

I have seen that teachers spent a lot of energy in mastering the content and transmitting it to kids, which they record, play during exam and erase. I have done this too. But I think now is the time when  we need a systemic change which empowers teacher to facilitate experience for kids to explore, think, question, critique, learn and create their knowledge belief and values and I think coding can be a good tool for it!

Irfan Lalani

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