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10 April 2008

TECHNOLOGY AND TEACHERS

Living in the garden city of Bangalore, the ITcapital of India, I see a newfound broadmindedness among people of all ages, particularly the older generation towards the Gen X. They share a vision for the future being more virtual in all major aspects. Better prospects for the young means earlier introduction to palmtops,laptops and such other gadgets. It is now a common sight to see mothers working from home on the computer, with their little ones in their lap. Introduction of computers in all schools and being taught how to use them has made every child much more aware and confident.

But, what of the older generation? No, I am not referring to their parents. Some of course, use the computer for just checking their email, some use only for chatting and still others, only at work. Parents that are software engineers,of course,are always busy online, much to the disappointment of their children,especially,when they work from home even on holidays.

By older generation, I meant grandparents. I met a lady who celebrated her 60th birthday recently and was gifted a laptop by her siblings. She was particularly excited as she could now not only converse with her son and his family abroad, but could also see her little granddaughter using the web cam. She was so excited at the prospect of learning to use and gain more knowledge over the internet and keeping abreast of several of her pet topics. Online, I have come across a lady who is more than 86 and has her own channel on youtube, a couple of elderly gentlemen in their 90's who blog and host a radio station, some are into podcasting. You name it, they are into it. Researchers admit that those that are elderly can remain young and healthy, with an active mind, if they play games against themselves or the computer on the net, and also play word games like scrabble and crossword on the net. The number of elderly people online is definitely on the rise. Retired people find a usefulness in blogging about various topics, and earn out of it too. Some contribute meaningfully to the discussions on Skypecasts.

What of the teachers in schools? Do they use the computers and the internet as much as their counterparts in other parts of the world? Some teachers are very adept at the use of the computers and use PowerPoint presentations to supplement their classroom teaching. Very few, use Excel for teaching or for representing students marks. The most commonly used is Word for Question paper,etc. Still others use only the email, to send mails to their students regarding projects, or last minute notes and diagrams. Many, many teachers just shy away from the use of computers and internet.Technology confuses them, or rather, it is a mental block that needs to be addressed. Schools should take time in familiarising such teachers with ways and means to utilise computers and the internet not just to aid their classroom teaching, but also to help them finish their additional duties such as tallying of marks faster and more accurately. After all, teachers are their employees who in turn, will be more efficient in churning out quality pupils who are ready to take on the world. Such schools should take a cue from certain international schools where the teacher is provided with a laptop and always online to answer queries from their students, parents and the management, 24x7. It certainly would be a pleasure to see more of Indian teachers blogging and editing the wikis.


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