School in Digital Age

We are in the 21st century and the requirement of skills in the workplace, the marketplace and the society at large is different from that of the preceding century. We cannot use the 20th century teaching mechanism and learning methods to teach the 21st century skills. This twenty-first century is the stage set for the digital age and to acquire digital skills as citizens we have to be digitally literates.

There is a clear need for digital literacy and digital citizenship is the logical outcome.

 

In the current education space there is a digital disconnect in the thought process between the educators and the learners.

 

It seems there is lack of proper understanding, focus and drive to get the gap bridged. This subtle fissure is emerging as the big digital divide in the education space. And it is not a good sign.

Therefore it is equally important to give safe limits for exploring digital resources through implementing responsible digital usage guidelines and empowered digital usage policies and procedures. These policies and guidelines should define the boundaries of safe play in the digital world and implications of accessing data, using information to controlling devices to connecting to social media and publishing content.

The divide is between the digital immigrants and the digital natives. This very decade is in the crossroad of that transition where the digital immigrants are still setting the policies and teaching the digital natives the basics of technology wherein the digital natives are born with the certificate of advance course in digital technology. Life in 21st century cannot move without the fuel of digital engine, and to keep the engine fired up, the digital literacy is a must.

Unfortunately the formal education system in school has lagged behind in the adoption of digital technology into its ecosystem. Students are learning more about the technology from their informal education system outside the school.

“Digital technology has become all-pervasive and omnipresent.”

Smart phones have become our extended fingers and extended ears, our fingers are almost always there on the screen typing with break neck speed on the WhatsApp messengers and ironically the Bluetooth is there to keep us connected with our hands free mobile.

 

There is an intriguing paradox between the formal and informal methods of learning in our school system.

 

There is an intriguing paradox between the formal and informal methods of learning in our school system. Click To Tweet

 

The informal system is increasingly playing a significant role in the education space and we can’t ignore any further and we need think and design how both the formal and informal can be synergized for a seamlessly learning environment and better learning outcomes.

In an increasingly digitized world where more and more physical lives are being transformed and transported into non-physical lives and the world is fast migrating into the digital environment, the students horizon of thinking and learning can no more be rooted and confined to the physical enclaves. The physical learning process is gradually getting supplemented with the digital modes of learning. The physical storage space is getting rapidly replaced with cloud storage space.

 

The teaching and learning space is shifting towards a more paperless place and minimizing the usage of paper is a sign of good citizenship whether one is digital or not.

 

The phrase “Digital Divide” which was coined in mid 1990’s when only few who had the opportunity to use computers and access internet and the majority had no computers or had no connection to web. Things have changed and have changed dramatically in the last quarter of a century and things in 21st century are about the digital equity not about the digital divide any more, technology is accessible everywhere and the cost of computers to digital devices have fallen rather sharply and is affordable and available for most of us to use and only few people are left out of the digital connect.

The equation has reversed and we are proudly talking of the equity and not the divide in the digital space. There is digital inclusion. The barriers are being bridged by the wireless network that have mushroomed all across the globe and have made the world a digitally connected universe.

As mobiles have become more and more prevalent we must discover creative ways to make it effective to leverage mobile tools in the school. Mobiles have changed the movement of technology and these are literally bridging the physical gaps and making geography irrelevant.

 

It has become a child’s play and students are carrying more technology in their pocket and bringing more technology in their thinking into school than the educator can imagine.

 

It has become a child’s play and students are carrying more technology in their pocket and bringing more technology in their thinking into school than the educator can imagine. Click To Tweet

 

Imagination needs a redefinition.

Mobile technology cannot be kept away from the students when they are literally living their after school hours in the mobile world. The usage can be moderated but it cannot be limited and it cannot be limited any further.

Educators have understood that newly generated and differently presented content are readily accessible by technology. Educators can use these innovative technology and creative content they can to design a more vibrant environment to transform the mundane relationship between the teacher and the student to a motivating affiliation. It is definitely enhancing the engagement of learner in the teaching towards higher order thinking and building critical analysis skills.

School need to embrace technologies that promote a culture of participatory and collaborative approaches to learning. Educators need to allow learners to effectively practice learning inside and outside the classroom as creators and also a consumer of knowledge.

 

Educator need to give networking opportunities for the teachers and students to connect and collaborate locally and globally.

 

Educators know that student write better when they have a real audience and an engaging audience to read and give feedback to their work. Earlier it was a challenge but today with help of digital technology it has given a big opportunity for students to connect and easily share their work to the global audience. Though blogging is still at its infancy in school but anecdotal evidence shows that student’s interest and the quality of writing improves when the work gets published online and there is an extension to the topic through commenting and conversations with readers.

School should recognize the critical factor in integrating technology into the school curriculum. It should give enough space to teachers for professional development through a culture of continuous growth and adequate scope to support and harness the power of innovation in technology developing newer methods and practices of learning.

The challenge that is in our current methods and means of teaching and the learning process is complex and this cannot be addressed with just the traditional means without the adequate use of digital technology.

The paradox is in managing the challenge and leveraging the opportunity.

The paradox is in managing a complex problem through a simple solution.

The paradox is in connecting the disconnected minds.

 

“The learners are digital natives.”

“The instructors are digital immigrants.”

 

The digital immigrants are teaching the digital natives on technology and how to use technology…the fundamental paradox.

 

The digital immigrants are teaching the digital natives on technology and how to use technology…the fundamental paradox. Click To Tweet

 

Digital Technology is fundamentally disrupting the conventions in the education ecosystem. Unfortunately, we are desperately and perhaps deliberately holding onto to the old habits and resisting from moving away from the stranglehold of age-old practices.

We are talking about the habits of teaching by teachers and the practices of learning by learners.

It is time to quickly migrate to a completely new set of convention.

 

The need for change in the fundamentals of learning, there is an imperative need to embrace newer ways of learning and innovative methods of teaching, redefining our scope of engagement with education ecosystem.

 


Nihar Pradhan

Educational Technologist

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Nihar R PradhanDigitaldigital citizenship,Digital Divide,Digital Immigrants,digital literacy,Digital Natives,Digital Technology,School System,School Teaching,Student LearningWe are in the 21st century and the requirement of skills in the workplace, the marketplace and the society at large is different from that of the preceding century. We cannot use the 20th century teaching mechanism and learning methods to teach the 21st century skills. This twenty-first century...Break the barriers and Make a difference...