Funny observation: the sudden snow made the lecture more interesting

I was in a class last Thursday. It was a pretty hectic day for me and the class was very technical. So, we were all sort of going through the motion of copying notes from the blackboard. You know, the blank look we have towards the blackboard, and often check the clock (when is it gonna end?) when we are completely disengaged in a class! Suddenly the alarm went off! This is my first experience of being present in the classroom at the time of declaration of an emergency alert. The funny thing is that the clock in the classroom stopped showing time after the alert. Anyway, back to the class, the teacher asked, what we all wanted to do, but it was surprising as how most of us including me did not want to end the class and leave. SO we carried on, and we felt different, people were asking questions, and were actively participating and the discussion was productive!!!! I thought to myself, wow, this is new…

My theory to explain this is : when we chose to carry on, we as learners made a “conscious decision” to be there and engage as opposed to a regular scenario when we come to class and often switch off our conscious self. We take the classroom environment, the lecture, the teachers voice, all for granted. May be next time I enter a classroom, I will remind me of my purpose! To engage! to listen and to speak up….I don’t know, may be the teacher also felt a fresh perspective….so it is good for the class!

 

So moral of the story: More snow needed to improve learner engagement 🙂 ( Please no! It is April and still snowing , what is wrong with the world?)

Edutainment: is it entertaining education or educational entertainment?

Let’s say we are sitting in a classroom. The teacher says if you all listen to the lecture carefully then he/she will tell a story in the end! Or, may be the teacher tells a story or says something entertaining every now and then to keep everyone engaged.  Let’s say this method works and results in more learner engagement overall. So it is a productive pedagogical technique to engage learners. However, I don’t like it. I have seen teachers discussing contemporary politics or movies just as a tool to get student’s attention. I think, as long as it is done in a proper context it is OK. For instance, if we are discussing inflation in current political scenario.

My concept of edutainment is different. I think of edutainment as a way to make the learning process fun. To make the learning experience more entertaining, not providing entertainment as and aid to deal with education. By giving the students case studies, project based studies, making it more interactive, increasing more hands on involvement, we can make the entire learning process more entertaining. But I am not going to sing and dance to get my student’s attention. Although, I am not too bad a singer 🙂

The usefulness of PBL in an web enabled environment

It is not an uncommon experience to loose focus and interest  in a lecture in a typical classroom setting even if the subject matter under consideration is very interesting. In science and technology, often a concept is best understood when seeing something happening and analyzing it. The great scientist and teacher of our time, Richard. P. Feynman said nature does not care what a physicist think. So the best way way to understand it is to poke  it , observe it and then draw meaningful conclusions. However such a learning process is complemented by lectures and guidance from the teacher. This is the way PBL works. To solve a problem, It is very important to identify the stuff that we know and the stuffs we don’t know.  Here comes the usefulness of internet. In today’s world, information is on the web. If we can identify what to know to bridge our knowledge gap for a certain problem, half the battle is won! Internet can help us do that. PBL would not have been such an effective tool without the internet. The access to the collective wisdom enables us to tackle problems directly and help innovative thinking.  Major universities like University of Leicester now incorporate PBL in their physics program which is very well received by the students.

 

However, for countries where internet access to all the students are not available, this approach will be a bit difficult to implement.

 

 

 

Inclusive pedagogy: reservation

When we are talking about inclusive pedagogy and its usefulness for an individual learner…..great! and its really useful in many ways. One aspect of inclusiveness in academic institutions is reservation based on cast or religion. This may not be an issue to be frowned upon in global context, but recently in India it has become a major source of controversy!

It is needless to mention there is already enough competition to get into top notch engineering or medical schools, add to that the “quota ” system which reserves upto 50% seats based on various casts. In the first place, reservation of seats for certain unprivileged section of the society is a really good example of an inclusive academic environment. However, having 50% of the total seats reserved is something else!! A large section of students who does not belong to so called unprivileged casts consider themselves “unprivileged” under this scenario.

A recent article depicts the situation quite well

http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/08/is-it-time-to-retire-indias-quota-system/

So, while we all embrace the benefits of an inclusive environment in academia, may be it is a good idea to just back up a little and ponder for a while about its adverse effects as well. Also, to what extent  such inclusiveness is implemented should also be examined.

 

 

 

Hello GEDI 2013

Hello everyone,

I am Souvik, welcome to my blog! I am a relatively baby blogger in the sense that I started blogging in the last semester during the course “Preparing For the Future Professoriate”  course. It has been an interesting journey since then. Hopefully I will explore my blogging self more during the course of this semester.

See you soon and take care everyone!