Spice Route

New Teaching Methodologies

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As educational reforms take place, new teaching methodologies are coming to the forefront that is ensuring that learning becomes both effective and efficient. 

The most fundamental role of a teacher is to impart knowledge along with helping students in character development, social growth and ready him/her for the future challenges. Teaching is not a new buzzword we have been sharing knowledge since early days of human evolution. Only thing that is different now-a-days is that we do not need to teach our kids how to hunt or gather firewood, instead our knowledge management revolves arounds jobs of today’s world. Case based teaching (There are plenty of good Harvard, Ivey, Darden and IIM-A cases to choose from), Kinesthetic approaches such as Role Play, Management Games, etc., Simulations (These range from single session simulation to an entire Capstone course being delivered on Simulation), “Learning by Doing” or “Hands-on” courses (Students investing actual money in the market or conducting Market Research for a company for a fee), Immersion (International Immersion programs ranging from a week to an entire semester), “Inquiry based learning” (Developing a thesis based on secondary or field-based research) and Expeditionary Learning such as Outbound activities, social projects are becoming popular teaching methodologies.

New Vistas

For a long time, there has been a tendency to fit hundreds of students in a restricted environment and taught all of them exactly the same thing, even if they do not have any common interests. This was really a letdown because everybody is unique and deserves the best for himself/herself. Time is changing now and with the help of technology we can scale and reach the masses which was not possible a few decades ago. Now a professor sitting in New York can give live presentation to students in the New Delhi which is really amazing. An important thing to note is that teaching methodologies do not have to be dependent on gadgets as this is only an enabler helping teachers explain complex things to students in a way that were not possible before. Alok Katiyar, Founder, Madguy Labs says, “instructors are now including real world examples/experiences in teaching concepts. It helps a learner in visualising and has a totally different perspective towards things. It will be a very crucial aspect we will see across all domains in near future. Teaching with Visual, Audio, and Kinesthetic (VAK) is in. There are three main types of learners – Visual, Audio, and Kinesthetic. To really master effective teaching now teachers focus on which type of students they have. Visual is all about seeing the material, audio is about hearing the material and kinesthetic is feeling the material. A great learning environment is when the student sees, hears, and feels the material themselves. We are one step closer to audio and video with but are still lacking in kinesthetics.”

Learning Approaches

Since the beginning of 21st century, significant changes have been made in didactics and teaching methodologies in the development of nation and worldwide education. Aiding technology in classrooms loosens the resource constraints of traditional programs—time, human capital, and space. “Schools and colleges are adopting new teaching methodologies in order to make learning more interactive and enjoyable. Various methods are being tried and tested in schools and colleges to strike a balance between quality education and a child’s overall wellbeing,” says Dr. Sridhar G, Founder, Deeksha. Online Assessments including online test preparation tools are widely used now-a-days. It helps in both saving time and giving a better report of the student’s performance. The area where we need more improvement is quality of assignments as well as deep insights on analysis reports. That way we can really improve the learning outcomes. Learner centered approaches to teaching and learning makes students an important stakeholder in the learning process. “This creates a positive interdependence between Instructor and students and among students themselves. Professional education requires students to go way beyond the ‘knowing’ to ‘doing’ and ‘being’ aspects.  The focus of these approaches is to help students learning themselves and thus empowering and inculcating self-learning habits. Both academic research and experiences of recruiters have shown that students who have undergone experiential approaches to learning are better ‘industry-ready’,” says Prof. Vishwanathan Iyer, Professor & Associate Dean Academics (Finance & Strategy) TAPMI.

Personalisation Matters

Teaching and learning processes have changed tremendously in the last couple of years. The biggest and most important factor in education is the way teachers respond to each and every student’s needs in terms of learning. Vamsi Krishna, CEO and Co-founder, Vedantu says, “we all know every child is different and has his / her own way of learning, so this makes the job of a teacher much more difficult in adapting to the individual needs of students. Hence the concept ‘one size fits all’ never works in education. With the advancement in AR and AI technologies, we have been able to solve this problem to a great extent by personalizing teaching methods suited to each and every child. At Vedantu, we are heavily focused on AI to bring personalization to content. Now, with the help of data we understand our students much better than we used to do in the offline medium. We try to customize the content as per the needs and progress of each individual. With this system in practice, Leaning Outcomes of each student is almost guaranteed.”

Tech Talk

A key enabler in new age teaching methods is technology and a simulated classroom environment is now a reality. “This is where VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) shine. Now, it is possible to create a complete simulation of a classroom where a student is not even present with fella classmates. This is great where infrastructure is not present for full size class rooms.,” says Katiyar. In order to supplement classroom teaching, leading educationists are advocating experiential learning and Information and Communication technology (ICT) enabled learning in recent times. Experiential learning stresses on the concept of learning-by-doing. While a physical laboratory would be the preferred choice, schools are employing virtual laboratories as a cost effective means for imparting experiential learning. “On the other hand, ICT enabled learning uses information and communication technology to support and enhance learning outcomes. Although both these approaches do not require constant attention from the teacher, they kindle inquisitiveness of the learners and hence assure better learning outcomes,” says Dr. N. V. Raghavendra, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Head, IQAC, The National Institute of Engineering. Moving forward, learning methodologies are technology driven and there will be a demand for educational experts who can integrate seamlessly conventional classroom teaching and technology enabled learning. Advances in technology have propelled the education space and one can find teaching in higher education getting increasingly tech savvy.  “Usage of high-tech simulations, gamification of content, flipped classrooms, delivering content through MOOC platforms (Coursera, EdX, etc.), usage of G-Suite for collaborative learning and the like are some of the new trends in teaching methodologies. At the heart of these technology adoption is the belief that learners take ownership of their own learning and that learning is no longer confined to knowledge of concepts,” adds Iyer. In current scenario, technology is inevitably a part of our daily life and the best way to cope up is to use it wisely. In a digital world, children are more comfortable with gadgets and can relate to the information much better. “Audio-visual supplements help students develop their imagination ability and cognitive thinking whilst making the class interactive. Similarly, peer teaching and role play are being followed in majority of schools due to the interaction that ensues in the classroom. Also, teachers can get a constructive feedback about each student’s performance in such an environment,” avers Dr. Sridhar.

Role Play

Across the top Business Schools, more and more participant centered teaching and learning methods are being practiced. For professional courses, experiential learning is the key. Many schools prefer role plays for teaching literature, history or current events. The idea is not to just narrate what a king did rather it is to make students to perform these roles. It helps in strengthening the concepts based learning and lowers the social stigma. Experiential learning may be imparted through focused laboratories, computer based simulated experiments, workshops, case studies, games, cultural exchanges and so on. They provide opportunity for the learner to reflect on real life problems and the right approach to solve them. “ICT based learning will free the learner from the physical constraints of the classroom and provides access to knowledge in a seamless manner. Handheld computers or tablets can open up the ocean of knowledge to the learner as and when he is inclined to learn. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are gaining popularity all over the world and days are not far off when bulk of the education takes place through this mode,” says Raghavendra. Experiential learning is a comprehensive teaching method where students are taught in an outside setting through hands-on experience. Experiential Learning includes service-learning projects, internships, field trips and field research. This method gives students the opportunity to learn from real life experiences and apply concepts in real life. “Gamification has also been a teaching strategy in classrooms for decades. Teachers have always used games to keep students engaged in learning process, ensure healthy competitiveness among students. This method has also helped teachers understand every student’s pace and cater to his/her needs. Using games in classrooms can also harness the competitive nature of students. Story-telling is another method in which teachers present lessons in the form of stories. Students can relate and understand the concepts better when taught in the form of a story-line. Teachers can attain students’ attention and make the class/lecture efficient,” says Dr. Sridhar.

Trend Check

Games are not only for fun and time pass but today it is a great enabler and helps in building problems solving aptitude. Gamification of concepts is teaching with help of puzzles and games where students learn without even realizing it. Flipped classrooms approach is one of the new trends, which delves on the concept of blended learning. “In this approach, the teacher shares instruction material beforehand, so that the student comes prepared for the class. The instruction content comprises e-books, journal articles, lecture videos and so on. The classroom is flipped to a discussion platform, where the teacher encourages discussion on a specific topic, thereby encouraging participative learning,” says Raghavendra. Jaya George, Education Director, Education and Programs, Christel House India adds, “Christel House aims to empower its students, to be at par with current standards, by using innovative methods to facilitate and further enhance, their grasping and retention capabilities. A “flipped classroom” is a great way to promote independent work the students to read up on the lesson before class, collect key learning’s, doubts and  important points, to be discussed in class, with the teacher as a mere facilitator. Other methods include working through case studies, real life problems and using a variety of online tools as well.”

Making the Difference

These methodologies help a teacher play a catalytically amplify the learning process. The teacher helps the student to make connections, provides timely and useful feedback and ensures that pace and quality of work is maintained. Since most of these strategies involve active learning, the students will remember the learning and long term memory skills are improved. “General skills of time and work management, collaboration, teamwork and research and reflection are improved. These are skills that will help a Christel House student stand out in their future workplaces. Besides new methodologies, we think it’s key to mentor students through a series of meaningful conversations with the student, along with constructive feedback. Meaningful professional development for staff, can assist teachers unleash the students’ true potential,” avers George. Education is at the cusp of change and the time to make that change is now. Educational institutions are naturally leading from the front to ensure that they are able to use new teaching methodologies to make the most for their students.

This story first appeared in Spice Route Magazine’s May 2019 issue here:

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