Best ways to use technology in a school

According to the United Nations, nearly half the world’s workforce may be jobless due to the COVID-19 crisis. According to AI expert Kai Fu Lee, automation may replace 40% of the world’s jobs in 15 years. 

Today most of the world’s knowledge is free, and in our handphone. On Aug 28, 2020 Elon Musk’s new company NeuralLink demonstrated neural interfaces in pigs. What this means is that while today the world’s knowledge is in our hands, in the near future it may be inside our brain!

What does all this mean for our children?

The big question to be asked is that given all these changes, of what use are textbooks? Why do we need to spend money to buy them at all? In the past schools had no option but to base teaching using these outdated textbooks however with the introduction of The New Education Policy (NEP 2020) things are set to change in a big way!

Students will learn from a variety of sources, most of them accessible via a variety of devices. Historically devices have been expensive however they are getting progressively cheaper. Schools can also democratise the use of devices. At Vega Schools we provide a variety of shared devices to the learners, and these are at no cost to the parents. Devices are shared based on priority and time-tabling. 

One of the reasons Vega Schools were selected by ‘We are Gurgaon’ as Gurgaon’s Best School is how we deploy technology. 

How do we deploy technology?

  • At Vega Schools we have replaced outdated textbooks with a variety of e-books, online research, experts accessed virtually and other online resources
  • We use technology in a way that it helps cut our teacher time – our Learning management system tracks academic progress as well as tracks their high order thinking skills
  • We also use technology to track and enable learning for learners with different speeds and abilities
  • A variety of shared devices that enable all our learners to access cutting edge knowledge at their fingertips

How much is too much and how little is too little?

Technology can fully replace some teachers who are mere providers of content. Hence teachers who lecture and teach to the textbook are fully replaceable. However technology cannot replace superstar teachers who coach learners on how to apply their learning to find new and better ways of doing things. We call them DOK-4 (Depth of knowledge level 4) teachers. DOK-4 is the competency that is at great premium in the real world. Individuals, professionals, entrepreneurs and companies that have found new and better ways of doing things are the most successful today. Those with these skills will continue to be successful tomorrow. 

At Vega Schools we use technology as an enabler – to make the teacher’s work easier, to free up the teacher’s time, to enable open-source knowledge, to track/record projects and to deliver assessments. We also use it to track and assess content learnt, curriculum covered as well as timeless skills developed. We use it as much as possible in order to enable our teachers to become more efficient. We use devices to help our learners compare, contrast, research, record and analyse. 

Technology should enable flipped classrooms and blended learning to deliver lectures and content. And it should completely replace traditional teachers who spend the majority of the teaching time delivering content – something a device can do easily. 

Technology cannot and should not replace a great teacher. Technology cannot impart the timeless skills – defined as all the skills machines do not possess. Machines have no willpower and cannot teach it to others. They cannot create and invent. They cannot motivate. They certainly cannot teach us how to get along with others (Machines cannot do most of the DOK 4 activities!). Most importantly, machines cannot learn to be kind. And they cannot teach kindness. All these things cannot be replaced by technology and require great teachers who are inspiration figures, mentors, guides and facilitators of deep learning. 

How can parents help children in the changing learning landscape?

By ensuring their children’s learning is designed around DOK-4. This can be achieved by combining superstar teachers with sensible use of technology. The schools whose teaching is based on DOK-4 will be the best schools in Gurgaon, and in India. These are schools that will create children of a new world!