This column is authored by Gopalkrishnan Iyer, Strategist at hedgehog lab
Quite often as an educator and a technology enthusiast, I am asked about the possibilities of learning inside the classrooms. In my view, learning opportunities have certainly widened in the last decade. This has been possible due to the availability of knowledge and information through some amazing tools; such as apps, the Wikipedia – voice recognised intelligent platforms like Siri, Google now and Cortana. All of these tools, to some extent designed to enhance learning and teaching inside and outside classrooms. These tools make the process of learning interactive, immersive, and engaging. This certainly has encouraged students to grasp the concepts better and motivated them to perform well. The teaching community is impacted as well, teachers are able to work with more intuitive content, engage students better, assess students and obtain spontaneous feedbacks after their sessions.
Apps, today, have become one of the successful tools that are capable of engaging, encouraging and motivating students to participate more frequently during classroom interactions. Educationists, teachers, often struggle to achieve this integration. In this blog I intend to provide some solutions:
The aim of an effective teaching focuses on the aspects – ‘why’ and ‘how’ and not essentially on ‘what’. An educational app, coupled with a teacher’s instruction has the capability to ignite a student’s imagination and trigger curiosity. Effective engagement can also be triggered with the help of provocative questions, which apps can pose after the teaching sessions. Questions through apps can induce students to find answers, enabling them to strengthen their concepts. The whole cycle of effective engagement – can contribute to cement student learning. Effective engagement levels with an app can also be judged if the app lets students to experiment and encourages them to do things that the have never done before.
Most classroom interactions focus on instruction rather than interaction. Interaction is smooth when the subject matter is effectively communicated. Prior to engaging an app, it is best to avoid any assumptions as to what the students already know, the danger here being losing those students who might not have the necessary skills. The key to effective instruction is to start with simple foundation, then proceed towards building a strong conceptual clarity and finally helping a student to retain the concepts for a lifetime. Hence, a good classroom app will align with student’s learning goals by building their skills and competencies and by offering personalised adaptive features that are based on a student’s skill level.
Apps can assist teachers to keep students motivated and engaged. To achieve this, learning goals need to be integrated with gaming strategies to raise motivational level amongst students. Motivation can be raised, if the apps and lesson plans are able to bridge the learning gaps from the real world, to the four walls of the classroom. The aim should be to surpass the potential for distraction by raising the motivational experience for students.
Learners across classrooms come with different skill levels. The challenge for the teacher is to communicate and assist students, to those with special learning needs. Apps would assist teachers to involve students possessing a range of skills. Take, for instance, personalisation of the user interface – this can help to customise and simplify the concepts, enabling students to understand complex concepts with much ease.
Educators need to keep the learning goals in mind prior to the deployment of apps. App store from Apple provides a variety of options. To foster creativity educators can take the assistance of apps like iMovie, GarageBand, and iPhoto. Productivity apps like pages, numbers and Keynote can skill students with word processing, number knowledge and creating presentations. Several third party apps like Desk, Sketchbook and Scribble Press can enable students to reflect, think and communicate fluently. In my view the era of apps has just begun.