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Tech in the hands of  great teachers is  transformational

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Aanchal Ghatak
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Vijisha Sahoo 550x300

Going forward, hybrid digital learning is here to stay and we are working on more innovative solutions to make sure learning remains seamless and a highly engaging experience for all, says Vijisha Sahoo - Director Tech & Innovation, SAI International Education Group.

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Have you settled back into the pre-Covid paradigm or is it fully hybrid?

The educational system shifted from bricks to click classrooms since the pandemic’s outbreak. Majority of the teaching learning processes entailed digital technologies to facilitate students’ learning. I firmly believe that educational technology, in today’s times, goes beyond K-12 classroom engagement tools, and plays an increasingly crucial role in the educational experience of young minds who are learning through online classes.

As an “educator” technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers is going to be transformational. So yes, we have settled in to the pre-Covid paradigm at school, which happens to also involve hybrid learning. Going forward, hybrid digital learning is here to stay and we are working on more innovative solutions to make sure learning remains seamless and a highly engaging experience for all.

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Proffering the best of both worlds, hybrid learning combines the best aspects of in-person experiential learning and online learning, allowing learners to benefit from technology that allows for instant doubt resolution in the physical dimension while supplementing regular lessons with digital resources.

Pre-pandemic, the school was equipped to host several mega online confluences providing online access to national and international networks of schools and students. SAI saw the pandemic as an opportunity to further amend its pre-existing technology-oriented education. Technology enabled flagship events took place virtually making sure an ideal learning experience was present all throughout the pandemic for all our students.

Now post-pandemic, we continue with the same pattern where we conduct set of prominent global events in a hybrid format irrespective, such as SAIMUN & International Youth Day. SAI Global Debate & e-Summer Fiesta are amongst the annual flagship events that are conducted in a complete online format. These events serve as global forums for students, providing ample exposure and encouraging multilateralism among them.

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What are the latest tech tools that you have implemented?

We have always been at the forefront of integrating technology into each of our processes at SAI International, and the transition to online education has been no exception. The pandemic caused significant disruption in the education sector, putting students’ futures in jeopardy, and bringing the world to a halt. Nonetheless, because SAI had a set framework that promoted hybrid learning in both online and offline modes, the transition from offline classroom environments to virtual online classes was seamless.

Digital technology and IT are effectively integrated in the curriculum at various levels to provide ample opportunities to learn and explore, offering a flexible, open learning environment that enables contextual, real-time, interactive, and personalized learning for the students. There are diverse online tools utilized in SAI International which includes:

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SAI Cloud, a virtual space where the school stores all its data and information.

SAI Cloud School 2.0 version aims at blended learning which is the future of education. It focuses on instilling the new millennium skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation during the most daunting phases of our lifetime only to ensure that our students receive the finest online education. A deeper echelon of learning, imparted by SAI Online classrooms with smaller segments of each class, which assured easy monitoring of each student by providing direct real time feedback, along with clarification of doubts in a structured manner within the classroom, and participation in different collaborative projects.

Moreover, with the introduction of objective and subjective assessment, we are able to measure the learning progress of each child.

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SAI Academic Management System (SAMS), a customized system software for parents developed by school to track students’ academic records and to automate the generation of report cards based on the skills and ability of each student. The software is programmed to calculate outputs in accordance with pre-defined formats. This system depicts a graphical representation of children’s achievements and individual goal setting for themselves. It aids in tracking each child’s progress in individual subjects and extracurricular activities through weekly, monthly, and summative assessments. The school uses standardised criteria to determine the merit of students in a systematic manner.

SAI Home School – This is a complete learning package that includes the subject, the teaching, the content, the practice, and the clarification of doubts. The SHS 3.0 has the most recent Light Board Technology, with all classes being recorded using the Light Boards for greater clarity, and the visual presentations assisting children in better understanding topics.

SAI Online our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is used to track each class and manage the functioning of the school digitally.

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These digital career planning tools offer an array of opportunities and create individualized plans to assist students align their strengths and interests to long-term goals, in their chosen path and keep them focused on their objective. It also builds in the required confidence to experiment and pursue new areas of interest, all within a safe environment.

Will you be changing the syllabus to reflect the post-Covid world?

No, we are following the same syllabus. However, the whole planning and objectives of education are being constantly reshuffled and reorganized due to the impacts of Covid-19. Teaching and learning methods have been made more flexible to cater to a more student-centric and project-based model of learning to suit the students learning under such unforeseen circumstances. Increasingly engaging students in hands-on learning within classroom activities post pandemic and making amends to further facilitate the concept of ‘learning by doing’ within the curriculum to go over various topics under the syllabus, has proven to be effective in terms of students actively embedding knowledge into their memories, instead of passively consuming the same.

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What is your policy on ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an Artificial Intelligence tool, the next big thing trending in the EdTech space right now, that provides quick, well-formulated answers to a variety of questions. This tool has a massive impact on education and research. We believe that keeping our students and teachers well-informed about the appropriate application of ChatGPT is critical.

Our teachers are given a free hand to research on various AI tools in terms of content based on specific learning objectives, such as lesson plans and assignments. Students can solely use it for their research and reference while studying to comprehend difficult ideas more clearly and raise their academic standing.

Having said that, it is imperative to pay attention to both sides of the coin. Students’ independent critical thinking and problem-solving abilities may suffer if they become overly dependent on ChatGPT. Students’ capacity to think creatively and independently may diminish over time.

Complex problems involving people may receive insensitive solutions because human emotions have no bearing on how ChatGPT functions. This might result in undermining empathy and stunt interpersonal skills in students. They may also lose motivation to learn on their own, reducing human intelligence over generations. Therefore, as an academic institution, we have developed compatible methods of applying this Open AI tool to assess students’ learning gaps and future potentials, whist also creating enough awareness amidst students through workshops, enlightening them about the right way to use ChatGPT as a reference and research tool.

It is essential for all stakeholders to decide on the proper application of technology in order to guarantee that it supports and promotes human learning, development, and growth. This is particularly valid in the context of education.

What more support do you want from the industry and government?

Being an urban school in India, our students get ample access and opportunities in terms of technology and education. Nevertheless, the rural students are deprived of connectivity and quality learning. The NEP 2020 focuses on accessibility of education to the remotest of areas as one of its prominent goals. Going further, the education system of India now needs:

• High speed internet access in the remotest of locations in India to provide better accessibility of information to students.

• Learners who are struggling with college and career planning can access high-quality online mentoring and advising programmes as mostly constraints related to resources or geography make face-to-face mentoring difficult to facilitate.

• Students in a remote geographic area studying local phenomena can collaborate better with peers doing similar work anywhere in the world using mobile data collection tools and online collaboration platforms.

• A school with effective connectivity but lacking robust science facilities can still provide its students with virtual chemistry, biology, anatomy, and physics labs, providing students with learning experiences comparable to peers with better resources.

• Students inclined towards creative writing, music, or media production can publish their work to a global audience regardless of where they attend school, increasing growth opportunities for all students while providing disadvantaged students with greater equity of access to high-quality learning materials, expertise, personalised learning, and tools for future education planning.

• Less experienced learners can access and participate in specialised communities of practise via technology-enabled learning environments, progressing to more complex activities and deeper participation as they gain the necessary experience to become expert members of the community.

Vijisha Sahoo

Director Tech & Innovation,

SAI International Education Group

aanchalg@cybermedia.co.in

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