Meeta Sengupta presented a vision for the future of education that moved away from the restrictive assumptions of the classroom and opened up the teaching landscape for digital pedagogies.
Education has been led by tech solutions rather than being teacher led, which has caused the current crisis where schools and teachers have to catch up. This is the time for good digital pedagogies to emerge, and for them to evolve. In the crisis, two good things happened-schools and teachers proved that they could change, and change fast. Within a week all of them who could afford it, were online in different ways. The second good thing to happen was that teachers knew that they had to listen and learn – and they received feedback from students, peers, students and improved their teaching day after day. This continuous improvement cycle will help digital pedagogies evolve.
Teachers need to continue to do better, because for the first time the students are not bound by the four walls of the classroom, and if the teaching is not engaging, they have the freedom to walk away and seek knowledge elsewhere. Teachers now must learn to teach to the free – and using a medium that makes us all equal. The old powergames and bullying of the classroom do not work here – and genuine professionalism must evolve. It is true that in giving up personal contact, they have lost many of their tools of engaging the student, or judging student understanding. Even when we move to hybrid patterns of learning, we will have to learn how to teach with less information – and more impact. The first step to that is to give up old assumptions that only served administrators – for example the idea of the 40×40 classroom – there is no reason for a class to go on for 40 minutes, and lectures certainly will not work. 40 minutes of synchronous learning is too much, and needs to be broken up into smaller chunks. 40 students per class is also not necessary any longer – Knowledge sessions or videos could be seen by a 1000, and activity sessions may work best in groups of 6 or 10. Do not try to replicate the classroom, change your assumptions for better teaching.
Meeta Sengupta asked teachers to abandon 3Cs – the fixation on the Classroom, the obsession with Content (Content is a means to practicing learning skills), and Certification (marks and rote learning reduce the student to a photocopier). Instead, replace them with these new 3Cs for digital learning: Connect, Care and Community. These will bring peer learning loops, engaged learning and the multiplier effect to the teacher’s efforts.
Finally, M Sengupta suggested 5 Rs that should form the checklist for designing any learning for the future: students need to be taught to build Resilience, Reliability, Responsibility, Relationships, and Risk Taking. Particularly the last, which has been cut out of the present education system and leaves our students unable to handle the world.