"Implementing Technology In A School Is A Catalyst To Learning": Canadian International School

In an interview with BW Education, Shweta Sastri, Executive Director Canadian International School talks about whether integrating technology in classrooms improves learning and how.

What is the urgency of integrating technology in classrooms and everyday curriculum?

Paradigm shifts across industries are making it harder for students to remain competitive. It is the role of an educator in today’s scenario not only to educate but to envision the challenges that students might face a decade from now, and prepare them for the same. The answer lies in not making students toil harder, but empower them to learn smarter. Such smart learning can only be accrued by integrating technology in our classrooms. Technology has become instrumental in the workforce and every industry, learning how to use to the technology and internet in more ways than quick Google Search is an indispensable necessity. Students are expected to have cross disciplinary skills and technology literacy is integral to these competencies, whether it comes to students having to maneuver social media landscape someday or personalizing customer service through machine learning.

What is digital citizenship and why is it integral to schools today?

Digital citizenship is going to become crucial aspect of educational curriculum as it provides a safe opportunity for students to question, discuss and consider safe and appropriate use of technology. While at Canadian International School there are firewalls, internet networks at home and outside, often don’t have this. Digital Citizenship is about providing the students with the tools and knowledge to make the right decisions. Parents and schools cannot control how students partake in social media, and educating students on why and how to create a positive Digital Footprint that you are proud of hence is essential to any educational curriculum.

Does integrating technology in schools improve learning? Could you share some  tangible examples.

Technology is being used in the classrooms to effectively to improve performance . Implementing technology in a school is essentially a catalyst to learning, but the effective use of technology in the classrooms requires a cultural shift from "teaching" to "learning". Being India’s first Apple Distinguished School, we have leveraged iTunes courses to successfully transition to a curriculum that is not focused on consuming knowledge, but creating it. We have experienced performance gains of 50-60 percent across multiple subjects for classrooms using Apple products. For example, through Apple’s online programs teachers are able to teach concepts that are differentiated to each individual’s ability. In our secondary school, all courses are created and then taught via iTunesU. CIS students may move at their own pace through daily tasks in many classes. Not only does integrating technology work with individuals pace of working but also provides a platform for creativity. For example in an English class where depression was a topic, students used multimedia tools and made a video for fellow students to help spread awareness on the topic. Being India’s first Apple’s Distinguished school provides us access to an open network where we continue to innovate and implement the latest advancements in education.

What does the future have in store in terms of technology integration?

Increasingly, technology will play a fundamental role in every aspect of a school curriculum, from how parents are connected with school management to how curriculums are designed. An essential aspect of integrating technology will also be creation as opposed to just consumption of knowledge. For instance Canadian International school opened a Maker Space officially in August 2016, providing a place for students to explore construction, robotics, and media creation. Students and teachers use this space to create green-screen movies, to engage students in procedural writing, and to add creative elements to their teaching and learning activities.

What is the impact on culture as we know it by integrating technology in classrooms?

Most faculty conduct a teacher-centered classroom; therefore, successful use of technology, whether it be in cyberspace or a traditional setting, will require behavior modification from faculty, or a shift from "teaching" to "learning." In 2012, the role of Tech Integrationist was added to the Canadian International School and the merging to pedagogy and technology became ingrained in the educational experience of CIS. The Tech Integrationist role has evolved significantly and each year a different focus has been used to guide planning, training, and content creation with teachers. iPad Boot Camps, Tech Shares, Parent Workshops, and the creation of the CIS technology curriculum is led by the technology integrationist.

The culture will also transform going beyond teaching technology skills to include teaching faculty to understand the learning styles of the students and personalize learning, to enhance learning outcomes.

What is Apple’s role in schools?

While researching which product to bring into the school, Board Executive Director, Ms. Shweta Sastri, attended an Apple Leadership Tour event. She saw the power of the iPad and the decision was made soon thereafter, to work towards becoming an Apple Distinguished School . Apple is tapping into the pedagogical expertise of traditional publishers to transform digital assets into effective teaching and learning materials. Its impressive and intuitive functionality has potential to move the world closer to realizing the digital transformation of teaching and learning. In addition the network of Apple Distinguished Schools, provides a community to innovate and learn from schools all over the world.

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