Salute to Teachers – The Architects of Tomorrow’s Digital India

The digital whiteboards have long replaced the squeaky blackboards, while emails and text messages are replacing messages pinned on the display boards in the corridors. Today, many schools have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, making notebooks redundant. The education pattern is itself changing from general rote learning for all to the ‘Discovery’ methods. Children are encouraged to participate in  group activities, brainstorming etc. to make learning easier, more interesting and long-lasting. As the academic system is being revolutionized by technology, the teachers, who have the task of making tech work in schools, are working hard to adapt to the changing scenario.

Technology offers an enormous range of possibilities within the confines of the same old classroom, and teachers now have greater access to reading material on the internet to do fact checks, organize presentations, get students to prepare slide shows or study at their own pace – something that was not possible even a decade ago, when I was a full-time teacher.

I feel so excited therefore when educationists talk about new strategies and concepts to enable wholesome learning and development. What’s more wonderful is that parents too, are getting to be a constant part of their child’s daily activities in schools, thanks to videos and emails. Further, the internet has made the world a global village and teachers are smartly making the most of it. Tweet chats and dedicated discussion platforms on education have allowed teachers to share findings and learn from each other. Such forums allow teachers to stay abreast of new digital learning tools and ensure that their students are making the most of what tech has to offer. After all, only an aware teacher can impart the right knowledge to our digital children.

Therefore, it’s a win-win situation for both teachers and students, leading to vastly improved academic environment and global outlook in students.

If anyone argues (and we used to write essays on this in school) would robots replace teachers in the near future or are teachers becoming irrelevant, then my answer is an emphatic “NO” and I will tell you why.

Why do students need human teachers in the digital age?

  • The human touch and attention
  • To instill the right values and cyber etiquette
  • To teach discipline and responsibility
  • Offer the right guidance on web surfing in the age of fake profiles and fake news
  • Guidance on searching for information online

It’s not an easy task. If you examine what being a teacher in the digital age entails, here are some of the skills they need to have.

Digital Age teachers should be able to:

  • Bring about required changes to move towards digitalization of education
  • Think critically or think out of the box and encourage this trait in children too
  • Stay updated with the latest tech developments and familiarize themselves with current trends to be able to establish classroom order
  • Help students select the right digital tools and use them responsibly
  • Teach kids to safeguard their devices and their online environment
  • Understand digital literacy and teach kids digital etiquette and digital hygiene
  • Use social media effectively to connect with other educationists, parents and children
  • Assist parents to become tech-savvy and cybersafety aware

Three things that every teacher needs to tackle in school:

  • Cyberbullying: Classroom bullying has gone online. It has become quite rampant- ranging from the harmless leg-pulling to serious threats and abuse. Teachers need to keep an eagle eye out for such activities, educate children on future consequences and organize peer support groups for victims of bullying so that children can learn how to deal with bullies.
  • Online dares and risky challenges: Teens especially are attracted by such competitive tasks where they can prove themselves and earn peer approval. Children need to be educated early on about the associated risks so that know where to draw the line.
  • Oversharing: Children need constant guidance on what and how much to share for they lack the foresight to think of future consequences.

Sanitization and security of the digital world of children are of paramount interest and teachers are best placed to guide them on this. This includes using only those devices that have running licensed security tools like McAfee Total Protection, using strong passphrases or better still, password managers, and being mindful of their digital actions.

Teachers are truly the nation builders; they are moulding the future digital age citizens with the right knowledge and guidance. It’s a tough task, but they do it with elegance and a smile. Wishing all you teachers a very Happy Teacher’s Day, may your tribe flourish.

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