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Changing Role Of The Teacher In An Online Learning Environment

While the primary functions of the teacher as an educator, mentor and emotionally intelligent person remains, teachers should be well equipped to meet the challenges and aspirations of a digital student.

Changing Role Of The Teacher In An Online Learning Environment
Changing Role Of The Teacher In An Online Learning Environment
outlookindia.com
2021-02-13T12:34:22+05:30

There are about 1 crore teachers in India with 70% of them working in government schools. As per government data, the Pupil Teacher Ratio at national level for primary schools is 23:1, for upper primary schools is 25:1 and for Secondary level is 26:1. On the face of it, we seem to have addressed the issue of access to education – including school infrastructure and  availability of teachers resulting in improvement in  enrolments. However, annual surveys on state of education highlight the gap in grade level performance of  students.

The role of a teacher in improving education outcomes cannot be stressed enough. The National Education Policy of 2020 states that the teacher must be at the centre of  fundamental reforms in the education system.  A report by McKinsey noted that globally teachers spent less than 50% of their working hours in direct interaction with students.[1]

In the Indian Context, a study by NEUPA found that only 19.1 per cent of a teacher’s annual school hours are  spent on teaching activities. Of the remaining 81 percent, 42.6 percent of the teacher’s time is spent in non-teaching  activities, 31.8 percent in non-teaching school-related activities and 6.5 per cent on other department activities. [2]

COVID19 and the resulting shutting down of schools necessitated a fresh approach to teaching. . Video conferencing solutions like Zoom, Google Meet etc, became the norm during the pandemic year. However, this had its own set of challenges – the most common being the inability of the teacher  to clarify the doubts of students through these classes. Other challenges in online teaching include not able to explain concepts clearly, and not being able to monitor the understanding of students in an online classroom.

Need for an Intelligent Teaching Assistant: The role of teaching assistant is not new. several professors, especially from the international higher education space, often engage one or more teaching assistant(s) to take care of the non-teaching aspects so they can  focus more on core activities of teaching, conceptual discussions and student interaction. This is where technology, especially AI, can play a vital role. AI can automate the non-teaching activities of the teacher like preparation, understanding learners levels and assignments.  Most of the current edtech applications focus on the student. They leave the teacher out of the system – excluding an important stakeholder in the student learning process. As a result of this, despite numerous edtech applications being available for the student, their effect is still questionable. As the McKinsey report points out – “Integrating effective software that links to student-learning goals within the curriculum - and training teachers on how to adapt to it - is difficult.”

The role of an intelligent teaching assistant finds a mention in the NEP 2020. It explicitly mentions  having an AI-based software, used by students, to help track growth through their school years based on learning data and interactive questionnaires for parents, students, and teachers. The objective of the application is to provide all stakeholders with valuable information on the learners’ strengths, areas of interest, and needed areas of focus, and to thereby help them make optimal career choices.

Geneo@School is developed on the same lines – to be an intelligent partner in the digital transformation of  teachers and  their teaching methodology.. Geneo@School will help  the teacher to be more efficient. . The offering consists of Geneo@Home for the students with a provision  of a Learning Management System for the teachers. Using Geneo@School, teachers can use inbuilt tools including digitized textbook to teach effectively. They can send targeted learning material to the students individually, create and schedule assignments which are auto evaluated. Teachers are provided with a dashboard which gives them an insight not only into the learning levels, but also the preferred learning experiences of individual students.  This approach of creating a learners digital record also helps when a new teacher is assigned to a class.

Geneo@Home has inbuilt teacher training modules focusing on the need of teachers to adapt to a blended learning environment. The training modules covers perspectives on teaching, learning theories for creating effective 21st century learning ecosystems; learning design principles for online teaching to effectively motivate students and enhance their learning progressions and using various tools available for an online teaching environment.


[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/how-artificial-intelligence-will-impact-k-12-teachers

[2] 'Involvement of Teachers in Non-teaching Activities and its Effect on Education', NEUPA, 2018

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