It’s wonderful to see the immense amount of innovation happening in the Indian education sector, both in the world of education technology – with 4,000 education technology companies active in India – and in general pedagogical practice, with thousands of hardworking teachers experimenting with new practices every day. Innovative educators are the best educators, constantly striving to improve classroom practices in such a way that unleashes the full potential of their students. Education innovation, however, must be approached in such a way that it has an effective and lasting impact on teaching practice and student outcomes. One cannot help but observe the number of innovations that do not reach their full effect due to a failure to acknowledge three critical criteria.
Technology must be viewed as a tool for teaching, not as a replacement for a teacher
Education technology must be viewed for what it is: a tool that educators can use to support their students to achieve better learning outcomes, which is only useful insofar as it complements a skilled teacher. Technology can never substitute for the essential role of a teacher, and we see very few students demonstrating significant improvement without effective human intervention. Education innovators face the risk of overemphasizing the role of education technology, in which it is mistakenly seen to have the ability to directly fix learning outcomes. While technology can help teachers improve their teaching in myriad ways – by generating data to help them pinpoint differentiated learning levels within a class, by providing quality content that can enhance a lesson, by reducing their administrative burden to open up more time for planning lessons and improving teaching skills, or by acting as a medium through which new pedagogical practices such as flipped learning can be experimented with – it can never replace the teacher’s human touch that motivates a child to put in the effort required to improve his or her learning outcomes. Education technology is a means to the greater ends of enhanced pedagogy, empowered teachers, and improved learning outcomes, not an end in itself – and educational leaders must recognize this.
Technology cannot be effective without adequate training and support
Secondly, a discerning educational innovator wishing to enhance pedagogy through
technology must carefully sift through the incredible variety of products that exist in the market to select the most appropriate ones, and must deploy them effectively. Failure to take care in this regard means that the same tool which has the potential to be of great use to teachers may also become a burden upon them. For instance, interactive white boards can be an incredibly powerful piece of classroom equipment if implemented with the correct approach, but can end up as a dangerously expensive and inconvenient white elephant if not. If their deployment is accompanied by adequate teacher training conducted in a manner that demonstrates their helpfulness for classroom practice, together with robust hardware support through which the inevitable technical failures can receive consistently rapid resolution, then they have the potential to be a success that enhances classroom teaching. Without this, however, the same classroom hardware will leave teachers frustrated and wishing that they still had a regular non-digital whiteboard, due to lack of knowledge of how to utilise them effectively and frequent technical difficulties that will render them unusable. Similarly, a well-chosen school ERP system implemented in the right way can significantly reduce teachers’ non-academic workload, but if the system is not effective then getting teachers to migrate from manual to digital administrative systems may turn into a time-consuming burden and source of resentment.
A Culture of Innovation
Thirdly, an educational institution wishing to implement educational innovations must work towards ensuring that the organisation’s culture is one that is open to change and development of teaching practice. This kind of culture can partly be facilitated through well-designed accountability systems – such as teachers’ promotion being linked with their active participation in training programmes combined with evidence of enacting the learning from those programmes in their classrooms – but such systems are insufficient on their own. Even more important than a structural shift from the top-down would be the culture change that
occurs at the grassroots level. An institution must create space, time, and incentives for teachers to collaborate, learn from one another, plan, and enjoy remaining continuously engaged with a discourse on teaching and learning, so that their passion about making a difference to children’s lives is ignited and they find themselves constantly on the lookout for new ways of enhancing their teaching for the benefit of their students. When all these factors are fully taken into consideration, educational innovations have the potential to be a success by empowering teachers to improve their students’ learning outcomes.
About our guest author-
Mr Roshan Gandhi, Director of Strategy has joined City Montessori School - Lucknow in 2016. He has infused a new zest in the technological development and process automation to ensure that the work is streamlined. With the help of technology, new strategies and policies are placed under his able guidance. With a degree from Oxford University and great family legacy he is set to ensure CMS reaches new heights. City Montessori School, also known as CMS, is among the oldest and most prestigious schools in Lucknow. Throughout its 60 year history, the school has gained many laurels from a number of organizations across the globe. CMS. CMS- City Montessori School is the world's largest city-school with 18 campuses in the city of Lucknow.