The Zen of Digital Classrooms

The Zen Of A Digital Classroom

Children learn from the company they keep. ~ Frank Smith

How many students do you teach- Twenty five, maybe twenty? Let me pose it the other way around- How many students do really learn- Twenty-five, or is it fifteen, maybe ten?

We spend countless hours on students. Prepare lesson plans, design instruction, teach, grade, and carry interventions. Howbeit, many – miraculously – fail to succeed.

How does it happen? There are several factors at play here.

Research points that not all students learn the same way- learning styles matter.

Research also confirms, that schools mainly teach to a couple of learning styles. Those who do not do well in these styles resort to learn-it-myself approach. They use your notes, but learn via practice.


Why students fail?

It frequently happens that the best of intentions fail. Classes irrespective of the effort put-in fail to score in the EOY assessments. Last year, not more than 52 percent of New Jersey students could meet PARCC’s grade-level expectations.

There are many factors responsible for such dire results, like motivation, peer relationship, bad teachers, not asking questions, and so on…. They are not in the scope of this article; however, one is- communication.

Teachers teach; but students fail to learn. Why, and can it be prevented?


The Zen of a digital classroom

Children learn from the company they keep. ~Frank Smith

It’s been obvious since sometime – teachers have to expand their reach. We must adopt new ways to engage students. Look beyond your classroom. Nearly 96% of youngsters use social networking. About 78% of students own cell phones. There are ways, more effective than class room instruction, to engage students.

If you cannot increase the time of teaching, increase the time students get to learn.

Classroom lectures, tests and assignments have a limited reach. Many teachers complain that time isn’t enough to teach it all. Digital tools leave us with no excuses. About 78% of students own cell phones, and nearly 94% teachers use one too.

Digital classrooms succeed because their classrooms have no walls. Their lectures aren’t just 40 minutes long- They are available forever. They are online.

They use techniques of time-less communication. Cell phones and computers allow them to interact with their class without the constraint of time or location. Their students are connected with each other, have 24 X 7 access to study material, and can contact the teacher whenever they want. 24 hours and 365 days.

If you want to unlock the potential geniuses chattering over the back-benches, or snoring behind a book, else staring out the windows – digitize your classroom.

Do you know-

Nearly 85% of 12 to 17-year-olds send text messages, email, or post comments on social networking sites. At the same time, In high schools, 4 out of 10 students “never” or “hardly ever,” write a paper of three or more pages.

Why digital classrooms succeed?

Because they invite students to learn. Let me elaborate.

Not all students learn the same way. Some need to attend the class, or take notes. While others may need to read the book, or craft an assignment. Some students need to give a presentation, while others must discuss it. Some must write, while others may need to draw. [And some may need parental intervention too.]

Can a teacher teach the same lesson – to twenty students – in twenty different ways – in just forty minutes? It’s impossible.

However, if she creates a digital platform, where students can choose how, when and where they learn. Given that freedom, every student would have the zeal to learn. [Some may still require parental intervention.] In general, all she has to do is invite students to her lesson. It could be a video, an audio, or a virtual reality module. Doesn’t matter.

She can offer her students a choice. And, she can invite them to learn. When students initiate learning – and if they love the experience – they are bound to succeed.

Smashing the Berlin walls

In traditional classrooms, a standard lecture is about forty minutes long. In forty minutes, teachers must teach the concept, test the students, resolve their doubts, and give homework. It’s all teaching.

In a digitized classroom, learning gets a priority. Teachers and students talk without bounds of time or classroom. Concepts are taught and learned all year ‘round. Assessments are done when the student is ready.

Berlin had only one wall. But, a classroom has many

  1. Time

  2. Learning styles

  3. Student engagement

  4. Learning environment

  5. Classroom resources

And, so on…

Digital classrooms can demolish these walls.

Moreover, teachers get an opportunity to teacher beyond their own knowledge bank. That’s unique. However, it isn’t easy.

In our upcoming posts, we’ll discuss the tools used in a digital classroom; and how teachers can use them. I list a few here-

  1. Emails: Facilitate electronic communication with students and parents

  2. Class-websites: Online pages to digitize your classroom

  3. Online learning: Tools to personalize the practice

  4. Wiki: Web-pages to digitize projects

  5. Blogs: Web logs to encourage classroom discussions

  6. Social media: The new-age professional development tool

  7. Online publishing: Tools for sharing student work globally

Are you using technology in your classroom? If you are, do share your views with us. We’d love to know. Our readers would love to know too.

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