Bornali Nath Dowerah (email@example.com)
Since last March 2020, the entire human race has been struggling between the entrapment of health and advanced technology. Two-and-a-half decades earlier, the lives of children and teenagers were vastly different than today's kids. What was ubiquitous was the television screen. Interestingly, this 'idiot-box' also was a source of connecting families together — whether it was Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana, Sports, or the popular Chitrahaar. What has massively changed since then with special reference to 2020 are — the children immersing in electronic devices. Screen timings occupy the spaces of outdoor activities, reading books, social interaction, physical exercises. Researchers from Alliance for Childhood (2004), Maryland state lucidly how crucial it is for children and teenagers to interact socially face-to-face with people and the rest of the natural environment. Today what is mostly lacked in children and adolescents are problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills during a crisis. The probable reasons may be regarded as the availability of various options in few clicks, the luxury of technology, the virtual world as a displacement of the natural environment and undoubtedly, the convenience of daily life through electronic devices and communications. What has been missing from the life of the young generation is real-life experiences. Spending more time on the screen has robbed of the sense of bonding not only with one's own family but nature and self as well. Sharing happy family pictures on social networking websites do not always signify happiness in the real sense. But the problem is how many of us realize that? How can children and youths be prompted the distinction between real and realistic representation?
Now the debate is — who is responsible? The apt response would certainly be in the counter-question — who is not responsible? What has been the purpose? Truly, the reason may have been for some kind of greater goodness and advancement of the society. It is evident, so far, that every innovation has been incorporated for the cause of optimistic contemplation and the far-sightedness of leaders. The aftermath of the pandemic has leveraged the dimensions of health consciousness among the human species more than in the earlier decades. One of the vulnerable species has been youth and children due to the closure of educational institutions. But does that mean that they should be bereft of their life-learning lessons? Every parent is a teacher to their wards. The responsibility doubles when it comes to parents also performing as teachers professionally.
Considering the classroom environment in 2021, it has become essential to engage students with activities that rejuvenate their psychological insights through their creative and critical imagination. To facilitate a learning environment at a virtual platform, the role of teachers is equally crucial as it is in the face-to-face classroom. Monitoring students do not mean that their freedom is confiscated. Many schools ask their students to keep the video camera on and attend classes. The problem here can be located in the case of students with a low-income or economic background and having almost no internet-access facilities. Another connected challenge is that students living in interior areas lag to secure opportunities as the pupils from urban areas. Faculties are therefore required to take charge of the facilitators for students in need. Due to such challenges, inclusivity and involvement of students have become prerequisites.
While developing materials for students the preparedness of the digital classroom by the teacher makes learning convenient and time-saving. In this technical era, it also becomes pertinent that trainers channelize their knowledge to teach at least one new productive use of technology for students to explore. This is mainly called technology literacy. Just indoctrinating academic wisdom does not comply with learning solely. Besides, instructing to improvise judicial use of technology may also form a part of the curriculum. However, the individual interest of the trainer or teacher may vary. In this matter, institutional responsibility becomes crucial for facilitating staff members with up-to-date technological support. In urban institutions, there might not be a gargantuan issue but in rural sectors, no guaranteed tech facility support system could be induced unless the infrastructure is worked upon.
This era has awakened the need to re-invent the teaching-learning process. Solely depending on digital learning cannot be sufficient for students to boost learning, and develop environment consciousness, social interaction and skill development. Kinesthetic learning can be incorporated under special instructions to students. Due to this, education requires a blended mode of learning that involves both online and physical chalk-talk connections.
Getting accustomed to the virtual classroom can be quite challenging initially as it is more about adapting to the new normal. However, tech literacy is equally relevant for students as it is for teachers. After the institutions and schools reopen in the coming days' tech literacy will gain more prominence than it is currently impacting upon. Bearing this in mind, institutional authorities are mostly required to ensure that the faculties receive adequate training to balance both digital and physical mode delivery of classes. However, this venture requires collaborative endeavours with digital experts such that the faculties can prepare content for the students seamlessly. In this process, innovative methods may be adopted that boost interaction, teamwork and synergy among the students and instructors.
With the availability of digital tools and valuable resources, the teaching-learning environment has made situations quite interesting. Observing the tech-tonic transition from the beginning of the twenty-first century till this day what hasn't changed is the role of the teaching fraternity. This reminds me of Charles Darwin (1859) stating "…the species that survives is the one that adapts to change". Change is the only phenomenon that demands such an adaptation. Prof SK Das (2020) from IIT Ropar talked to Business World Education, "In a world where the information is just a click away, the role of the educator should gradually move from being a knowledge provider to being a facilitator." Indeed, teaching has shifted and teachers have too.