Towards holistic and balanced growth of students

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Madhavi Alapati
Madhavi Alapati, Executive Director of Prachin Global Schools, Hyderabad

Smart school system is brilliant and should be adopted in schools for more effective teaching–learning process. If it is implemented in true letter and spirit it will make our educational system superior and our students best in class.

A narrow definition of a smart school is one which integrates the latest technologies in the organizational level and in teaching so as to optimize the learning process. The smart school ensures state-of-the-art infrastructure internet connectivity to all the classrooms, a digital library, inter-active audio visual facilities to the teachers and students and so on.

The school utilizes all the software at its disposal to derive the maximum efficiency in the administration as well as the learning process of the educand.

Unlike other types of schools, there is no undue apprehension of periodic tests and assessments which expose the children to unnecessary stress which could be detrimental to optimum performance of the students. Further, a virtual school can be created at home where parents, teachers and students communicate with each other through social networking – mobiles, tabs, e-mails etc. This will provide space for a child to respond with greater freedom and creativity in his comfort zone.

When all the dimensions are taken into consideration, no doubt, the smart schools create a huge impact in comparison with other types of schools in the present day scenario of education.

Madhavi Alapati, Executive Director of Prachin Global Schools, Hyderabad
Madhavi Alapati, Executive Director of Prachin Global Schools, Hyderabad

Further, the administrative system should effectively manage the resources and process required to support the teaching and learning functions. Greater efficiency is achieved through technology, in management of student affairs, facilities, resources both external and human, and financial management.

Books and pens have given way to touchscreen, be it at work or for leisure. Cumbersome paper work is reduced because the software helps to maintain all records thus giving a shot in the arm for efficiency.

Smart Schools facilitate education to reach out to students around the globe individually as well as developing online learning clusters.

Smart learning practices…

The objective of a smart school is to cater to the all-round development of the individual – intellectual, physical, emotional and social. It has to create the ambience to enhance individual skills, promote creativity and problem-solving skills, activate thinking skills, instill social responsibility, inculcate health consciousness, and maintain emotional balance so as to mould an integrated personality.

In order to involve all the stakeholders in this process, the use of technology is vital. The school has to empower the administrative system to communicate with all the stakeholders – administrative staff, teachers, students and parents, and pass on relevant information at the appropriate time for greater efficiency and increased learning outcomes. Thus the pooling of all external resources ultimately provides a comprehensive resource database which enables easy storage and retrieval of all student data as and when required, thus giving a thrust to smart learning processes catering to individual needs. Student-centric learning is the hallmark of this system. E-learning assists teachers and students. It is interactive and motivates students to participate with greater enthusiasm. The audio–video back-up sustains interest level. However a brand of web based learning and relevant teaching methods can be ideal to enhance learning outcomes.

Smart and effective learning model

The smart school creates the best learning ambience to ensure an upward graph in the children’s confidence level and as a consequence children become articulate, more aware of their surroundings, and get actively engaged with the world around them. The end result is that the academic and social potential tend to reach the zenith.

Unlike traditional schools in a smart school, the curriculum, the methodology, the assessment modules, and the academic activities are not rigid or stringent. The teachers and students can utilize a variety of multimedia tools which takes the students to much higher levels of learning experience.

Smart schools have a long term vision and hence it keeps up with the times using technologies in disseminating the up-to-date information in view of the fast changing world.

The students are enabled to respond effectively to the day-to-day challenges and opportunities that prop up due to the rapid changes.

Our education should re-affirm the commitment to uphold values of justice, truth, non- violence, respect for society and create a sense of duty.

Challenges teachers face…

The Smart school up-dates itself with new teaching – learning strategies providing technology which is cosmetically and technically advanced ensuring quality and variety so as to make the curriculum effective.

As a result, the biggest challenge that the teachers face is to keep oneself abreast with the changing scenario. The capacity of the instructors to switch over methodologies to the latest smart boards and technology based contents are huge challenges especially for those who have been in the comfort zone of the traditional system.

‘Orthodoxy’ which has deep roots in conventional methods always tend to justify the time tested strategies, partially because of the fear caused by the challenges that the uphill task of ‘Changeover’ brings with it, and sometimes genuinely the inability to cope up with the fast changing technologies every minute, every hour.

Customized teaching to suit individual skills of each student differentiates smart methods from existing methods which expects every student to fall in line, is often met with resistance because it needs more creativity, skill and patience. However if this transition is accepted with a positive attitude and implemented effectively the outcome itself is a great reward.

Empowering learners for learning beyond a routine curriculum

A smart school need not physically exist to be a school. Different from the four walled enclosure, one could host class rooms online supported by the various technology based learning systems.

The smart school curriculum is designed to ensure holistic and balanced growth in all facets of a person. There is no doubt that an integration of knowledge, skills, creativity, co – related values, suitable attitudes, and capacity building measures are essential to keep up with the times. The smart curriculum ensures quality learning, creating an ambience for self- paced learning, thus differentiating it from routine curricula.

The smart school pedagogy sets specific learning goals. It promotes creativity and experimentation, attempts smart teaching – learning strategies, encourages diversity to enhance personal skills, customizes inputs to match individual interests, capacities, needs and learning styles. The assessment patterns are designed with a goal to test whether the learner is equipped with this learning area and ready to move on to higher levels indicating progress. If the objectives are not met, the smart system, based on multiple intelligence theories, expects the strengths, weakness and needs to be diagnosed again so as to adapt to the individual learning styles further, so that no one is left behind. The curriculum seeks to raise achievement levels of all the students.

Smart school system is brilliant and should be adopted in schools for more effective teaching – learning process. There ought to be challenges at every step, but if it is implemented in true letter and spirit it will make our educational system and our students superior.

Madhavi Alapati is the Executive Director of Prachin Global Schools, Hyderabad. She is an ardent admirer of children and passionate about imparting qualitative and holistic education to every child in the school. The dream of identifying and nurturing the hidden talents of the students by providing world-class infrastructural facilities is unfolding day by day. The educational strategies backed up by the latest technology and committed staff is creating a smart learning atmosphere in the school, thus creating a positive impact in the region.