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Classrooms need a makeover

  • Published at 07:54 pm March 22nd, 2018
  • Last updated at 11:19 am March 23rd, 2018
Classrooms need a makeover
It’s no secret that most classrooms scare students. It is no secret either that with the boom in population and rapid developments in our social dynamics, the traditional classroom is failing students’ requirements in quality education. Because there is very little productive interaction and motivation students study only to pass, not to learn. Which means that enjoying the learning process has become something of a myth. As an education enthusiast, I often try to promote the idea that education is universal, and that quality education should be available for everyone regardless of class, gender, or any other backgrounds. Yet, it is sad to see that today’s classrooms are packed with students who have to hustle through sluggish traffic jam, hot and full of sweat to sit for classes where they find very little energy or interest to invest in. A waste of time Most of the class-time is spent on checking attendance, and, rather than spending it on constructive activities, it is spent more on who is paying attention and who isn’t. Profiling students is hard, evaluating them is harder. Classes are now jam-packed to fit into the schedules of poorly-designed shifts, and as teachers hurry with their lectures, students fail to keep track and get bored to sleep, causing annoyance for both the educators and learners. There is hardly encouragement, or research-based education at the school level, where innovation is not appreciated, exploration is limited within textbooks, and participation is rarely contested productively. Given these conditions, teachers hardly get time for making bonds with their students. Then there’s the printing, photocopying, manual annotating, and then typing it into the computer, which most university and college students have to face painstakingly. In every class, every student has to buy his or her own copy of a textbook while teachers have to manage the distribution of printers, photocopiers, and scanners -- along with computers -- which are are needed for traditional curriculums. But this could change.
Classes are now jam-packed to fit into the schedules of poorly-designed shifts, and as teachers hurry with their lectures, students fail to keep track and get bored to sleep, causing annoyance for both the educators and learners
Transformation through technology Technology has come a long way, and so could the teaching system. The internet is becoming affordable and cross-platform applications provide lots of flexibility when accessing online services. Educators have many free tools at their fingertips which they can avail to transform their classroom into veritable places of thinking, learning, and exploring the vast world of academic disciplines. Take Google Classroom, for instance, which is a cloud-based free service for both educators and learners. This amazing service is designed to work just like a classroom, but only better because it can also be used to host remote classes. For example, Google Classroom offers integration with other free Google services, such as YouTube, Google Calendar, and Google Drive. You can set assignments for your students, initiate a discussion, announce quizzes, mark and evaluate each student individually, etc without needing to share the same physical space. Furthermore, you can assess the class better with the sizeable amount of data available to track the progress of the class and provide advice and counselling in private. There’s also a to-do list feature which you can make use of to keep track of your own teaching assignments. How does this service work? Simply log in to your Google account and then sign up for it. If you are a teacher, you can start your own classes using your account, you can create a curriculum, upload content through a classroom drive folder, divide the curriculum into topics, and even pin upcoming events such as assignments or exam week. Discussion is better where you have more control over unwanted elements diverting the route of discussion. Best of all, you can collaborate with others and “co-teach” with fellow educators. If you are into flipped classes, there is an opportunity to upload your own educational videos and also add others’ lectures and animated contents. Many educators use this service, and others such as Moodle, to encourage students to find out their own study content on the internet, learn, and come back to classes and discuss what they have learned. This takes off a lot of the pressure from the teachers. At the same time, students feel empowered to take control of their own learning progress and preferences. Moreover, it also helps them understand the internet, the state of online reality, and automatically contributes to their ICT competencies. Finally, such a system helps students find their own voice and autonomy in their learning. Many may argue that, given that such services are free, how will institutions and teachers earn a living. This question is up in the air, but it is open to innovative integrations with the physical classroom. But the simplicity of the idea remains: Education should be accessible to all. The cheaper the cost and the better the quality, the more people will benefit from the system. After all, a well-educated nation is in the interests of everyone. Muhammad Mustafa Monowar is Assistant Manager at Bangladesh-China Power Company Pvt Ltd.
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