Madhulika Sagaram President, Adhya Educational Society

‘How not to learn’

Technology, if inappropriately used leads to exposure to unlimited content

Madhu pic

Madhulika Sagaram M.S., PhD, Environmental Plant Science M.S. Human Resource Development emphasis Curriculum& Instruction,Social and Leadership Development

As an educator, I meet children of all ages and often with a gadget in their hand. Seldom do parents understand the implications of how their child engages and interacts with the gadget. Learning is a continuous process; children learn from every sound, visual, touch, and texture in their surrounding environment.

While technology has been a primer in changing how we function as a society, its effectiveness is limited to magnifying human capacity. While the role of technology has often been glorified to replace the teachers and the human connection, education is not an exception to the functionality of technology. Technology only magnifies human pedagogical capacities, it cannot replace human intervention or the human connect. Just like technology can amplify and magnify human capability it can also augment human shortcomings. This is very true when teachers and parents are not adequately trained to use technology appropriately. While every aspect of our life is being touched by technological advancements, the debate around technology in education has reached a point where people are for or against it. There is a need to refocus our attention and move away from polarisation towards a meaningful dialogue towards using it appropriately in classrooms and life situations involving children. Below are a few examples of parents’ assumptions and the reality of the situation.

Children have a natural ability and inclination to learn, play and grow. At the same time, they also have a propensity to get distracted. It is very important to balance the desirable aspects of technology with undesirable aspects and use technology to augment learning

–“My child learns through his gadget, he knows all the alphabets, names and capitals of countries and he is only 2 and a half” Myth:Remembering information is learning Reality: Remembering information without any interpretation, understanding and comprehension does not amount to learning. Too much information without experience leads to a false sense of knowing and a loss of zeal in the world around them. –“My 6 year old is learning alphabets, numbers, and words… from the gadget. I want to get her games that will help her learn all subjects separately” Myth:Learning disconnected subjects put into boxes enhances the child’s ability to learn. Reality: Life cannot be understood by breaking it into pieces. All disciplines are extensions of each other with interconnections woven into the fabric of learning. These interconnections is what make learning applicable in daily life. Disconnected learning fragments the child’s ability to comprehend and make meaning of learning and life.

–“I do not need books or a teacher for my child, she learns through her gadget. She is playing on the gadget most of the time, I want her to learn only through the gadget” Myth: A gadget improves learning, it makes the child focused Reality: A child’s identity develops through what holds their imagination and experience. Technology is a tool that augments human capability, it cannot replace human capability. The moving and shifting imagery in a gadget might impact the ability of the child to develop attention and listening skills. –“My child memorises everything from the gadget, she is always with the gadget” Myth: Memorisation of content is learning Reality: Memorisation of content amounts to repetition not learning. Memory is not limited to the brain, entire human body carries memory. It is essential that the child is engaged in embodied learning involving all senses, movement of limbs and body as a whole without which the total capacity of their learning ability will not be reached. The balance between the desirable and the undesirable propensities varies from child to child. In general, the undesirable propensities including distraction and attention deficit win over when adult supervision and human interaction are replaced with a gadget. Technology in the current scenario has become an important source of entertainment.

Many a time, technology in education also becomes a source for entertainment. While, technology can also support learning, it is quite attractive to choose entertainment over learning. Then learning becomes entertainment, a source to remain occupied rather than engage in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, engagement and experience. Schools and teachers along with parents should be equipped, aware and comprehend the damage that can happen to a child’s learning ability and personality if appropriate guidance is not provided in the use of technology.