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Teachers go virtual

What if your favourite Khan became a virtual teacher and students got to do expensive courses at a minimum cost from the comfort of their homes? Education would be far more interesting, interactive and holistic. That was the unanimous verdict of teachers, educationists and other participants at a seminar on Empowering School Education through Information and Communication Technology.

More than 100 educational institutions took part in the daylong affair presented by iLead, in association with The Telegraph, and The Teacher’s Center.

“The central government is encouraging educational institutions to be more tech- savvy. Technology improves the quality of education. Through Skype, some of the best teachers from all over the world can deliver guest lectures at your school. Besides, the Internet is a huge resource of valuable information. We need to encourage the use of technology further,” said Pradip Chopra, the chairman of iLead. He also addressed a session on online resources for offline courses.

From Khan Academy to Coursera, Chopra listed the advantages of various online courses and teaching tools.

“The teacher is slowly becoming just a facilitator in the classroom. Students can listen to some of the best lectures at home and come back to school to do related exercises. Most of these courses are application-oriented and very beneficial,” he said, adding how some of them are available in regional languages as well.

“Start a club in your school where students are encouraged to research online and look up such courses and lectures. Kids are more tech-savvy. It can lead to an enriching exchange of ideas,” was Chopra’s suggestion to the participating teachers.

Shah Rukh Khan in Swades and (below) Aamir Khan in Lagaan

The day saw specialists speaking on topics such as labs, how Teacher’s Center promotes ICT in schools, use of Skype in schools and how to make science lessons fun.

One of the most interesting sessions was on the use of films in teaching, conducted by Subha Das Mollick, a faculty at iLead.

She showed clips of SRK’s Swades and Aamir Khans’s Lagaan to illustrate how popular films can be used in a classroom to teach a particular topic. “Students immediately find a connect with popular films. They can be used to teach science, life skills, history and other subjects. Even backbenchers will participate then,” said Mollick as she screened a few scenes from Swades to show how kids can learn about hydro-electricity generation from the film.

Relevant parts of Lagaan were screened to illustrate how a lesson on wildlife conservation can be made interesting. “Select an appropriate film clip. Make it short. Then open up a related discussion. But make sure to point out the artistic liberty taken in the scenes, if any,” advised Mollick.

The seminar also had some guest speakers addressing the audience on Skype.

Ashley Braganza, a professor of Brunel University, the UK, spoke on ways to use technology effectively to develop learning and learning skills. “Schools are quicker in adopting technology than colleges and universities. Technology can be a powerful tool to encourage students to do more research. Now they need not always go to a library. Sourcing research matter has become easy. But we must be careful not to breed intellectual laziness in the process,” Braganza said.