G. Balasubramanian is a doyen of school education in India. He has held several positions of leadership at CBSE, including Director Academics. He was the brain behind the introduction of several innovations at CBSE, which included frontline curriculum, Communicative Approach to Language Teaching, Information Technology, Alternatives to Homework, etc. He is also an author, poet and a sought-after speaker at educational conferences world over.
Over three decades and a half before, when computers made their inroads to schools, they were largely considered as ‘subjects of study’ and they were added as an additional subject to the curriculum. There existed a myth that computers were meant only for students who were good in mathematics and had a technological aptitude. The idea that computers were tools good enough to transact any type of learning and were platforms which could enhance and empower learning, open up possibilities for data analysis, promote analytical thinking and would relieve a number of routine jobs haunted my monotony remained unacceptable for a brief amount of time, due to lack of awareness and the fear of the unknown.
With Artificial Intelligence (AI) opening up its score in the pitches of the classrooms, such a myth is not likely to be there; yet it is quite possible that the human mind known for its pattern making, may still consider this as another piece of knowledge for transaction. It is quite important to demystify this idea among the schools and teachers right in the beginning.
With my minimal understanding of the kind of interventions AI appears to be making in the design of the curriculum and in content development, I do foresee the emerging need for adequate preparation to face the challenges of the classroom. Teachers might have to rewire their brain mechanisms that deal with classroom pedagogy and interactive presentations of the content.
Content designs may evolve in new avatars
Content designs on technological platforms may have some new features. With greater possibility of information synthesis, the presentation of contents could become more demonstrative, more functional and more investigative. ‘Design thinking’ experts may have a significant role to play in identifying learning problems, ideate new methods of communication and put the content to intrinsic tests for promoting curiosity and investigation by the learners.
These new interventions will not scale the difficulty levels in understanding but, would indeed provide challenges to the learners to perceive the information from different angles. Reach and operability of the content at the personal level by the learners would largely promote individualised learning.
Classrooms might become less homogeneous, but more engaging.
Classrooms cannot afford to have ‘mass drills’
With greater opportunities for personalised learning encouraging different perceptions to a problem or a concept, teachers cannot afford to have the ‘mass drill’ modes of information processing in classrooms. Teachers might have to address individual curiosities and challenges at the individual level through the platforms of technology. As ‘Artificial Intelligence’ interventions would cease to play their initial magic in a short term, the focus will shift to real learning through technology. Teachers might be called upon to review their content more intrinsically to offer the explanations with a greater exactitude and authenticity...
…to be continued.
This article was originally published in TheTeacher.in magazine in the month of August 2019.