The following article was written for Oberoi International School’s 2015-16 yearbook with the purpose of shedding light on technology integration and the long term objectives of the integrators.
Technology at Oberoi International School
Every year it seems to be that the world around us is speeding up. As our society continues to advance at an ever increasing pace, it can be daunting to try and understand it all. Understanding is, of course, a crucial requirement if one hopes to teach the next generation of global citizens. For us, the team of primary technology integrators at Oberoi International School, we have realized that instead of trying to “understand” everything, we are more likely to remain updated and relevant to be able to “learn” alongside our students and staff.
With the world changing so rapidly, it is an extremely challenging endeavour to try and predict the personal and professional ecosystem that our students will one day be a part of. However, there is enormous value in these predictive exercises, and entities have emerged that seek to demystify or forecast the impact changes in technology will have on the generations to come. The World Economic Forum, which is a not-for-profit foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, serves as a forum for engaging the “foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas”, is one such entity. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has dubbed the next great global shift, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, which they claim will include “developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence, and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, and genetics and biotechnology”. This revolution will not only cause widespread changes to businesses but to labour markets and most importantly, to the skill sets required in order to prosper in this new world.
Take a look at the chart from the World Economic Forum which shows a comparison in the top 10 skills required by employers of their employees. Now, this is only showing the difference between the required skills in 2015 and 2020 – our first-grade students will be entering the workforce in the year 2031, or later, depending on the time their desired profession and the respective schooling prerequisites. Imagine how fundamentally different this list of skills will be then!
Now, while we aren’t exactly able to begin teaching our primary aged students how to develop biotechnology or create 10-year old geneticists, we can certainly begin by inspiring them to dream. This year, we purchased several new devices which have opened up creative pathways and inspired projects that otherwise would not have existed. Students were able to use a laser-cutter to create board games, keychains, name tags, puzzles, and blueprints; limited only by their imagination. With the 3D printer, students are able to finally translate their digital dreams into something physical – using this technology to solve real-world problems, create custom models or merchandise. With our lego robotics kits and programming software, students are able to digitally control objects that they once would have seen as only “toys”. With the Makey-Makey miniature circuit board kits, students could turn lifeless objects such as bananas, wood pedals, and laser-cut diagrams into interactive displays capable of interfacing with a computer to play sound and give key commands. Using the newly termed, “Mystery Skype”, students were given the opportunity to video conference with children and classrooms around the world, making connections and strengthening their international mindedness. During the global computer science week which took place in December, students across the grade levels participated in the “Hour of Code” event, wherein they were encouraged to spend at least one hour, learning how to program. While last year was the first time we participated as a school in the event, students had accumulated over 350 hours of programming by the end of the week. This year, that number rose to over 895 – which is an incredible improvement that reflects the desire and dedication of our parents, students, and teachers who recognize the importance of learning to code. One of the most transformative tools that were adopted this year was the e-portfolio platform, Seesaw, which was introduced for all students ranging from Nursery to Grade 4.
This tool has enabled parents to stay intimately connected to the learning that takes place in the classrooms of their children while simultaneously empowering students to continue their learning outside of school – whether by taking time to reflect on their work alongside family, or using their learning journal to take their learning further. The amount of content that has been added to these journals is incredible, with over 30,000 items added by 808 students in 44 classes by the second week of April. Items include videos, photos, presentations, screencasts, drawings, and more! With an average of 36 items per child, and with the year not yet over, it’s amazing to imagine what sort of digital portfolio our students will have amassed by the time they move into the middle years programme.
As we look forward, rest assured that we are going out of our way to find tools, devices, and gadgets that will push our students further. We boldly move ahead, learning how to use these innovative constructs hand-in-hand with the students, in the hope that we can remain as relevant as possible. In the words of Robert M. Hutchins, “The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” We were all young once, and whether by chance or through the fortune of having great teachers, we have remained life-long learners – let us hope that we can repay that favor to this young generation that relies on us for guidance. Let us hope that we can instill in them a desire to seek out answers, try new things, and remain unfazed by failure.