This blog will crisply focus on sharing with you what we feel about the core idea of learning – the idea of mastery and how digital tools like learning tablets can enable our children to adopt this.
Also, let us see how educational tablets can perhaps go on to become a very normal learning tool in the times of an on-going widespread pandemic.
Below we list down the benefits of having tablets in schools and at home:
Have you come across children who say that they find Math very difficult? Or a particular topic in Chemistry that is very difficult to understand? We usually brush these off saying that the kid is stupid or just doesn’t work hard and focus on his/her studies; but, there could be much more to it than it appears to be.
Are we educating enough?
Let us embark on a journey to explore this.
Our education system usually categorizes students by their age and then makes them learn concepts and subjects all at the same pace. The current generation has grown up like this.
Some practical situations to begin with:
For instance, we are in class 1 and the current topic which students are learning is addition of single digit numbers.
Teacher comes into the class, delivers a 30 minutes lecture on the topic and gives out some homework. Students go home, do their homework and next morning the teacher reviews the homework and moves onto the next topic. The cycle repeats for several weeks until it is exam time.
The results are announced. Few students get 95, few get 80, others are at 65 and some others are at 50. Our existing education system has identified the gaps in each child’s knowledge, which is indeed a great achievement. However, the problem starts when the whole class moves onto the next topic, probably to an even more advanced chapter or so, that only adds on to those gaps.
There could be an addition of 2 numbers today, followed by an addition of 3 in the next class and so on.
Don’t you think this is a bit scary and worrisome? The student who got 65 marks doesn’t know 35% of the foundational thing and yet has been moved to a stage where he/she is supposed to learn advanced topics. Unfortunately, this system continues for years until maybe the student is in an algebra class and hits the ceiling. The student suddenly starts fearing Math. This is happening not because algebra is difficult or the kid isn’t bright enough but the 35% of what he missed in his foundational years is showing up now. This is when the child starts to disengage and begins to get a feeling that Math might not really be his/her cup of tea.
To summarize, even though our existing education system is able to appropriately identify the learning gaps, there isn’t a process that lets you bridge those gaps. Even for the kid who scored 95%, there is 5% of something that he does not understand.
Imagine if we build our buildings like this. You hire a contractor and tell him that you have two weeks to dig and get the foundation ready. After two weeks, you visit the site and say, “ Well, yeah maybe this is 80% ready. But that’s okay, build the first floor.” And so the contractor starts building the first floor and you show up again after 2 weeks for inspection. You look around and figure out it is 75%. As usual you instruct the contractor to build the second floor, third floor and so on till when you build the fourth floor, the whole building collapses.
Now, if you evaluate the above like we typically evaluate our education system, you may say, “Maybe the contractor wasn’t good enough or maybe we should have done a deeper inspection”. What we don’t realise is that the process and foundation itself were weak and half-made.
It is here that ICT labs with educational tablets can play a vital role.
Mastery based learning
If you look at the way all of us have been learning, we fix the amount of time we are going to spend on learning a topic while expecting an outcome which is variable – different students getting different marks. However, the idea of mastery-based learning flips it completely. What we should rather keep variable is when and how long a student should work on a topic and keeping the fact fixed he/she actually masters the topic.
E-Learning Tablets give ample scope to do so. They often have topic-wise assessments with quick feedback. This helps both teachers and students to instantly analyse the gaps and work on it accordingly. Tablets generally have FCQs for every lesson that students can practice and achieve mastery on it. This way students start associating themselves better with subjects and show keen interest at whatever comes along.
For example, if a child is given a book and is given a stipulated time to complete a particular chapter, it becomes like an indirect compulsion for him/her. What if the child wants to practically do it or see it and then learn? Somehow, he does not have the medium to do so and halfheartedly learns the topic from the book. Will the learning stay with him/her for very long? Will he/she understand it conceptually right? We all know the answer; don’t we!!
In this context, learning tablets bring in just the right amount of fun that is required. With several multimedia videos, these tabs explain various topics in a much innovative and fun way. Since every kid has a different learning pattern, teaching too should be imparted in a manner that it caters to the needs of the child. Educational Tablets with its illustrative video lessons keeps a child engaged and encourages to bridge his learning gap all on his own.
Referring to a practical instance, suppose a student is still a bit unsure if he understood a particular chapter even after the teacher has finished teaching it. What should he/she do? Leave that chapter unlearned and move on to the next one? Or should he sit back, find a quiet time, do some self-study to understand it fully? Yes, of course that is what he/she should be doing!
This is only possible if there are educational tablets in school which he/she can take home and learn at his/own comfort, time and pace. Imagine if there is no such tool, the child’s learning gaps will keep increasing making him non-confident and unsure of his knowledge.
Learning Tablets are also flexible if we talk about the present times when schools and coaching institutes are hardly going to open up any time sooner. In such times, these education tabs can be very useful because of its offline content. How? Let’s discuss it in the following section.
Role of educational tablets during Covid-19 Pandemic – Learning at home becomes easy
Educational Tablets contain offline content which most of times require no internet. As a result students can easily study and complete their syllabus even during such critical times. As talked about in the previous paragraphs, these tablets have assessments with prompt feedback which are stored offline on a central dashboard. Teachers can review them and accordingly assign tasks, thus providing personalized guidance even at homes. Home-learning is made super-easy and enjoyable with these electronic wonders! Did you see how beautifully learning tablets can cover and bridge historical gaps. In fact, it does not allow any scope of gaps to appear in the first place.
Hence, students, parents and teachers have no worries about children being left behind and the tension as to how they will be able to cope up with such a huge interval.
Learning tablets lets each child choose their own pace, place and style of learning. With the availability of student wise reports, teachers and parents can guide their children with additional tasks and feedback, which is extremely personalized. This plays positively to a child’s psychology and because a child can choose when to study, it also gives ample time to master a topic.
A learning tablet going directly into the hands of a child creates a very personalized learning space around him/her. The device does not judge you with whatever you are doing on the device.
At iDream Education, one way in which we encourage children to build on their foundational gaps is by opening up the content of all grades to all the children. Our learning platform guides students to explore content from lower grades depending on their learning levels. Moreover, the child can also choose to study from various categories of content based on their interest. And since the device is monitored either by the parent or the teacher in school, they can guide each child to follow a “mastery” based approach to learning.
In rural India and in government schools where a lot of our work happens, historical learning gaps are one of the biggest challenges waiting to be solved. ASER reports every year highlight this gap. But with educational tablets and adaptive apps and learning platforms, we can clearly see signs of transformation.
Like for example, take a look at the story of Vikas.
Vikas was a drug addict living on the streets of Mumbai. He was rescued by an NGO who helped him with rehabilitation. While the NGO wanted to enroll Vikas in a formal school, since his teen years, he was way behind in his learning compared to his age. Vikas is now using educational tablets to happily cover his historical learning gaps. Here’s a short video where he talks about his experience:
Best part being that the NGO has adopted a mastery based approach to learning. They are in no hurry to put Vikas in school. Rather are allowing him all the time to help build his previous learning gaps and happily enjoy the learning process.
If we can adopt a mastery-based approach to learning in our schools and at home, there can be multiple advantages that can be derived. First and foremost; our students would actually get to master every topic. Secondly, when they realize that there are some gaps in their learning, they know that they are not being tagged as a “C” grader or a kid who gets 50% marks. Rather what it would mean to them is that they just need to keep working on the problem till they master it. It also teaches them the value of perseverance and builds a mindset towards consistency.
Educational tablets as we have seen above can certainly help our schools and students adopt the mastery-based approach to learning.
How would you want your children to learn? Would you want them to have tools that can help them build their foundational gaps in knowledge? Do you know of any instance where mastery based approach was adopted and what results did you observe? Please share your questions, thoughts and comments below.
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