Is it the end of a classroom as we know it?

The concept of individualized classroom learning is as old as ‘teaching’ itself. Teachers and schools have always focused on acknowledging the uniqueness of a child, helping them the best they can and pushing them towards their strengths. Upcoming EdTech start-ups in India such as Byju and Toppr have brought new paradigms to learning, trying to democratize our traditional classroom model. These mobile applications are fast gaining popularity among the new generation students and parents and if we critically examine the reasons, it all starts making a lot of sense.

In the past when we wanted to learn something new, we would enroll ourselves to a neighbourhood institute. Times have changed rather quick, with a plethora of information at our fingertips now. All we need is a working mobile or a tablet with a wifi connection and a quick inexpensive and convenient classroom is available to us ‘on-demand’ – anywhere and anytime.

Use of simplified videos and animations have helped refresh complex concepts in an enjoyable manner which also helps enhance retention from what one absorbs in a classroom. E-learning, being an individual medium, also inculcates a sense of responsibility where students are accountable to themselves. It also helps students learn at their own pace unlike a classroom where one might not be able to keep up with the pace of their peers. The option of exploring certain subjects in depth, in a manner that keeps their schedules flexible is a boon to students who take more interest in certain disciplines and look forward to a higher education.

However, all this does not mean that this fresh crop of technology can replace our classrooms and our teachers. While using technology is good, it can never be a whole meal. We the students, crave one-on-one interactions with teachers, which these platforms will never be able to provide. Further, there is a lot of value in a peer-to-peer learning ecosystem which cannot be recreated by any mobile app.

In an era where teenagers have enabling devices such as mobile phones and tablets, the risks can be serious if the parents do not monitor what they use it for. Lack of discipline and procrastination may push students to not use the opportunity well and spend their study time in less constructive activities such as entertainment and games. It reminds us of an important lesson that is often underplayed by the Byju’s and Toppr’s of the world – “Technology can be the best friend to classroom learning, only if we use it well!”

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Synopsis

Asmi Sethi is a Class 10 student of Utpal Shanghvi Global School, Mumbai. Alongside her keen interest in Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics; Asmi has also received training in vocal classical music, kathak and drawing. She has represented her school in various inter-school academic and literary competitions and looks forward to a higher education in medicine.

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