Smart School – A myth or reality?

Aditi Basu Roy
Ex-Principal, Sardar Patel School, Noida

We have all been talking about the merits of smart schools and how schools should work towards making their schools smart. But is it really happening so?

Aditi Basu Roy
Aditi Basu Roy

Smart schools enabled with advanced ICT, classrooms decor with curtains or blinds, smart interactive boards, lovely multimedia projectors and intelligent computers are must for modern urban education, especially in high-end private school sector. It is a gimmick used for school marketing. Many schools have display boards announcing their Smart classrooms at a conspicuous position outside the school which is a tall tale in most of the cases. Except for very few schools, mostly affiliated with foreign boards, smart class is a co-curricular activity carried out inefficiently once a week or may be once a month so that the school can charge an amount from students under that head.

There is usually a LMS (Learning Management System) provider who gives everything: the projector, the smart board, computer, unauthentic content and animation, frequent technical troubles and occasional headaches. If you Google “Smart Class”, you may find hundreds of companies offering it and self-proclaiming to be the best in the market.

In Indian schools, teachers find it daunting to juggle among the textbook, students’ engagement, homework, assessment, management’s expectations and parents’ expectations. Smart class is an added bugbear. Most of the teachers are not ICT trained at all or are semi- trained to carry out smart classes productively; there is no freedom of delivery of lessons or selecting different pedagogical styles; the teacher is confined by the LMS. Middle-end schools, low-end schools and government aided schools cannot afford the smart class due to the high cost involved!

There is no doubt that our respectable Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji’s dream to make a smart India has increased the involvement of technologies in school education also. But, as of now, smart school is only a reality if teachers are smart enough to learn and blend different pedagogical styles both technological and conventional to maximize the learning outcome of students; for rest smart school is still a myth.

Aditi Basu Roy, Ex-Principal, Sardar Patel School, Noida, has worked with S. Chand group in “e-class”, a World Bank project for Uttarakhand government schools as a pedagogy and subject matter expert in e-learning.

Smart educator: need of the day!

Vandana Saxena
Principal, Tribune Model School, Chandigarh

It is rightly said that a picture speaks more than a thousand words; with the use of a smart board the teaching learning experience can easily touch the amazing world of visuals and innovation can be experienced as real. But, technology is only a tool; we need smart educators to make our schools really ‘smart.’

Vandana Saxena
Vandana Saxena

A smart class has become a value addition in schools for marketing. Used colloquially, the term ‘Smart’ is to attract parents to ‘Smart Schools’ where all classrooms are equipped with a white board and a projector promising the magic of learning with technology and to justify the higher fee structure or a steep fee hike.

The hidden agenda unknown to many is that this gadget just like any other can only be ‘Smart’ if used by a ‘Smart Educator’: the one who has sound knowledge of the subject, is trained in skills for effective use of technology and has a passion to transact knowledge to the 21st century learner in an engaging and a meaningful way. It is rightly said that a picture speaks more than a thousand words; with the use of a smart board the teaching learning experience can easily touch the amazing world of visuals and innovation can be experienced as real.

While on the one hand, we work to create a strong foundation through the traditional and conventional methods, but on the other hand, the modern and scientific methods have to be blended in, but with an awareness of the purpose of the use just as an aid or tool. For example, we understand that search engines are for seeding, spreading and sharing knowledge for those who seek. For that, the seeker has to know his/her mind. Though with the beginning of the new era, the millennial needs to be empowered with the use of technology for a multidimensional teaching-learning experience, the foundation of learning comes from tradition. Remember, technology is only a tool, not the visionary.

Vandana Saxena is Principal at Tribune Model School, Chandigarh.