What are teaching aids
Before we proceed further in discussion on our subject of teaching aids whether traditional or modern we should first find out a simple definition for the layman to understand as to what teaching aids are. So, in a very simplistic manner, we can define teaching aids as tools which the teachers or tutors or whoever is involved in the field of teaching including laboratory assistants in the science labs of schools to help the learners in a way that can make them easily understand and comprehend what is taught to them. The teaching aids can improve the reading, writing and speaking skills of the students. In an easy illustrative way, the teaching aids can reinforce whatever the ideas, facts or skills have already been learnt by the students. The user friendly and interactive teaching aids help to remove the anxiety, fear, boredom or any other complex feeling which the students may develop while learning their subjects of study. Modern teaching aids are very helpful in this respect because they use the play way method and make teaching like playing some games especially in the case of very young learners. The use of graphics, audio and visuals in the modern training aids makes them very impressive as they leave an imagery of the lessons in the minds of the students.
What are traditional teaching aids
Let us first discuss some important teaching aids and methods of teaching which we had been using and are still using in many of our schools. The usual traditional teaching aids are blackboards, textbooks, charts, pictures, posters, maps, atlases, globes, flash cards, flip cards, worksheets, science lab apparatus and materials, models, crossword puzzles, quizzes, story telling, dramatization, one act plays, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, reference books, learning toys and abacus. Let us learn about these teaching aids one by one.
Blackboards and chalks
• Blackboard is one of the very old and most used teaching aids in the schools along with the text books. Recently blackboards have been changed to green boards, but the basic function of the board remains the same by whatever colour one may name it. Even the material used for making the blackboards is changed from the ordinary wood to the most sophisticated plastic, fibre and glass materials of today. In some classrooms, the blackboards are permanently made of cement and mortar. But the functions of all these are the same. The blackboard has been the most handy and useful tool of a teacher in the classroom. The teacher has to take a white chalk to describe the things on the blackboard or for writing the notes of lesson on it for the children to copy. Coloured pieces of chalk are also used to emphasize upon the important parts of the lesson. While making selection of teachers, the selectors expect from the probable teachers to make maximum use of the blackboard which they call blackboard work or B/B work.
• The prescribed texts books of studies for particular classes in a school have been the other very useful tool in the hands of the teacher for centuries whereby a teacher uses the text book to read and explain to the students everything contained in the text book lessons. The teacher asks the students to mark or underline important ideas appearing in the lessons and the difficult words or the concepts which the students may fail to grasp easily. While using the textbook, sometimes the teachers move away from the subject to tell the students anecdotes, stories or personal experiences concerned with the topic in the textbook that is being taught to the students.
Charts, pictures and posters
• For easy understanding of the lessons, the teachers use teaching aids like the charts, pictures and posters which they display in the walls of the classrooms.
• These not only decorate the walls of the classrooms but also are important tool for teaching in the classrooms.
• Colourful charts in the classrooms attract the students to get attracted to the classrooms.
Maps, Atlases and globes
• The lessons in geography becomes realistic when the teachers use wall maps, atlases and globes to make the student understand and know various geographical concepts and to know the locations of various places in the world.
• Teaching of geography in the classrooms will be meaningless without the use of these teaching aids.
• Visit to historical places near the school is live experience for the children to learn and these also serve as natural teaching aids.
Flashcards, flip cards and worksheets
• Flash cards and flip cards are another useful teaching aid used especially in small classes to teach vocabulary and important concepts.
• Worksheets are an important aid to the students to work out the exercises given in these worksheets.
Scientific apparatus, materials and models used in classrooms and science labs
• No science lesson can said to be complete unless the children are shown the practical examples by conducting the science experiments in the lab or class.
• Models of parts of the human body and many other models depicting the replica of the things taught in the class are very important teaching aids.
• Clay models are very prominently seen in the schools.
• Visit to science museums, planetariums; zoological parks and places of scientific importance will serve as very good teaching aids to the students.
• Leaves, twigs, flowers, seeds etc of plants when shown to the children either from the school garden or a nearby park will add to the botanical knowledge of the students and are living teaching aids from the beginning.
Crossword puzzles, quizzes and story telling etc.
• Crossword puzzles and other quizzes held in the school from time to time also serve as a sort of teaching aids.
• Learning games which the students play in the classrooms are also one of the teaching aids.
• Children may be asked to write stories from the pictures shown to them. They may also be given incomplete stories to complete.
Dramatization and plays
• Dramatization and one act plays enacted in the classrooms based on the subjects of study also serve as important teaching aids.
Dictionaries, Encyclopaedias and other reference books
• Dictionaries, encyclopaedias and other books of reference always come to the help of the teachers and the students when ever they want to find out the meaning of any word or an idea. Books containing facts of knowledge and important data books help the teachers and students to find them easily in these books.
Toys and other objects used as methods of teaching
• Toys are usually used in small classes for teaching the children the names of various fruits, vegetables, animals, birds, insects etc. Toy models of these objects are easily available in the market.
• Children in lower classes are also given some objects like marbles and beads to learn numbers.
• Toy clocks and watches are used in schools to teach children the concept of time.
Use abacus as a teaching aid
• The use of abacus in learning numbers and small mathematical operations has been in use since times immemorial.
Mathematics including geometry kits
• The geometry box containing compasses, protectors, ruler scales etc. is very important set of aids in the hands of students and teachers to learn geometrical concepts. The teachers will have the same instruments made in larges sizes to explain the sums in geometry to the students using chalk in stead of pencils which the students use.
What are modern teaching aids
After discussing the traditional teaching aids let us know about the modern teaching aids. The modern teaching aids include computers, internet surfing, laptops, electronic note books, e-readers, computer educational games, online dictionaries, online encyclopaedias, picture dictionaries, talking dictionaries, online tests, online e-books, audio – video teaching aids for learning various subjects including languages; PowerPoint slides and games; flash educational games; Lesson relayed on radio through satellites; lessons on TV relayed by certain TV channels; Educational CDs and DVDs, projectors; interactive white boards also called smart boards etc. Let us discuss some of the most important of the modern teaching aids.
Computer as a tool in modern teaching
• Computers have become of the most important learning aids of the modern times. Today's education is considered incomplete without computers. This is the basic machine on which all other electronic medias of learning depend. These can be bought in various forms like desktops, lap tops, notebooks and simply e-readers.
• Computers are used to play the computer based educational games which can now be played also through television screens.
• The computers have been playing an important tool for teaching from the last few years of the 20th century and since then it has brought about a revolution in the methods of teaching which our future teachers will be using.
• The computers make use of multimedia programme which include attractive colours, clear graphics, wonderful sounds, the fascinating animations and enjoyable videos discharging to the students the various elements of their subjects of study.
• Some critics of computers as a teaching aid may point out that the conventional methods of teaching in the hands of an enthusiastic, creative and industrious teacher could also do the job as well if not better than a computer. To such critics, I would say that the computers are not there to undermine the role of the efficient teachers. The computers are only a tool in the hands of a teacher to make the teacher's job easy and fast and make the teacher more efficient. A computer or any other teaching tool cannot work at its own, it definitely needs mediation from an enterprising teacher. No one would feel like to do away with the blackboard where it is necessary to use a blackboard or any other conventional tool.
• The computer has brought about a tremendous change the way the world looks at the teaching aids. With the advent of internet technology, the use of a computer as part of today's educational aids has become inevitable. Just think of a simple situation where you want to teach a student the word 'trumpet' used for the sound produced by an elephant and expect the student to describe the sound which the elephant makes. Obviously, you cannot bring the elephant to the classroom other than showing its picture. Even if you take the class to the zoo park where is the guarantee that the students can listen to the sound of an elephant trumpeting. But you can play the recorded sound of the elephant through a computer and can also show its picture or even live video of an elephant. For this purpose I have loaded the sound files of all animals, birds and insects to enable the children to hear the sounds of these living beings through computer in their classrooms. I have used the Microsoft PowerPoint application for doing the same along with the colourful pictures of these animals, birds and insects.
• You can make the young students practice their language lessons including regional languages through computers. I have practically done it for my computer virtually turning the computer lab as a language lab. You can see the image above where the students of a primary class are seriously engaged in learning Hindi through computers.
• Computers bring to the students a world of entertainment along with learning by providing computer based educational games for learning various subjects through computers. Many websites on the internet provide these games free for the students and parents and a few also charge nominally for the educational games made available to their members.
• As a cheap alternative, the thin clients (TCs) are available today which can be attached to one or two servers through networking technology called LAN (Local Area Network). These thin clients with a basic requirement of a keyboard, mouse port and audio ports come at a very cheap price ranging between Rs.2000 – Rs.3000 per piece depending on the source we buy them from. So the schools need not to spend on CPUs and can thus save about Rs.10,000 – Rs. 12,000 on each system in the computer lab.
• Thin clients are very light in weight and can be fixed easily either on the wall or at the back of the computer monitor where come monitor manufacturers leave four holes for the screws to be fixed.
Role of PowerPoint slides and games in modern classrooms
• The PowerPoint presentations in the form of slides and PowerPoint games serve a very important role in the modern education. Any person with a basic knowledge of PowerPoint can learn to make slides and games on the relevant subjects of teaching with a very little training. If a teacher is really interested to learn and use this media to teach his or her students can do it in very short period of time.
• One can use the PowerPoint slides and games starting even from the students of Kindergarten onwards. Even the students who do not want to come to school as the ordinary teaching by the traditional methods seems boring them are attracted by the novel methods of teaching through the PowerPoint presentations.
• The entire lessons of the students can be incorporated in PowerPoint slides and then can be taught to them in the classrooms by interpolating sounds and animations in the text lessons making the lessons very interesting to the students. This can be done by having an LCD TV attached to a computer in the classroom. This works out to be much cheap and better than even the electronic smart white board. The added advantage is that the teachers can also use the ordinary blackboard in the class. There is no need to cover the wall with a fixed electronic white board which will also need an overhead projector to run it in addition to a computer. This also reduces the operating costs which are very heavy when we use the electronic boards.
• PowerPoint presentations are also advantageous than the electronic boards because the teachers can make the slides themselves according to their own specific requirements of the subject instead of using the globally made software which may not serve the specific needs of the teacher in the classroom. The students may also be involved in preparing these slides. They will learn most of their lessons when they practically make the slides themselves. In addition, the students will increase their speed of typing when they type their lessons for the PowerPoint slides. You can see screen shot of one of the PowerPoint presentation made by me. I have made thousands of them to teach my students.
• PowerPoint presentations also score a point over the Electronic white board in the sense that even a 3 year old can interact with the computer monitor screen playing PowerPoint games which he or she will not be able to do with an electronic white board fixed at a height in a classroom. I have even made a KBC like game for the Lower Kindergarten students to learn alphabets and other concepts of learning at this young level.
• The biggest advantage is that PowerPoint application comes free as a mart of the Microsoft Office suit and is available universally throughout the world.
Interactive electronic white board as a tool in modern teaching
• Interactive electronic white boards of today also known as smart boards are the latest tools in the methods of modern teaching. These need a computer, an overhead projector and preloaded educational software.
• These are very costly equipment and require a lot of investment and can be afforded by only by schools who charge a very high rate of fees from the students. For this reason, these have not become very popular with ordinary schools. It is not only the heavy initial investment if purchased outright which has to be kept in mind but also the day to day costs of running the equipment which should be thought of by the end users. These costs are the high power bills and the replacement of lamps of the projectors which should be given attention to while buying this costly equipment.
• Some companies supplying the white boards like the Educomp, Smart Boards etc. make offers to the institutions to pay on monthly basis for the equipment and also appoint the support staff for running the system. They charge the institutions monthly charges ranging from Rs.50 to Rs.100 per student dependent upon the school strength. Here also these companies do not apprise the schools about the hidden costs in the form of higher power bills and replacement of projector lamps which the schools have to incur.
• Of course, the electronic white board has many user friendly offering a lot of interaction to its user. It is a colourful tool in the hands of the teachers. Its inter-activity features are beyond description. But the biggest disadvantage of the electronic white board is that it has to be fixed on the wall and does not leave the place for use of your ordinary blackboard to be used in case of emergencies like the power failure. It is more so if the classroom does not happen to be very big. The projector and the computer has to be always on if you want to use the electronic board.
Overhead projectors and slide projectors, Projector screens, VCRs, VCPs, DVD players etc.
• Slide projectors have a limited utility where you can play small slides on the projector screens but the pictures are still pictures and not the moving pictures. However, it is a useful and cheap teaching aid as compared to digital electronic projectors.
• Video cassette recorders and video cassette players were quite popular a few years back. Then came the Compact Disk (CD) players but they also have been overtaken now by the digital video disk (DVD) players incorporating a lot of features available in the digital technologies. But all these need extra screens like that of the television or the overhead projector screens to function. In addition one has to buy the educational DVDs from the market to play in them. DVD players are quite cheap but the television sets and overhead projectors required to play them are quite costly.
• Digital overhead projectors are very costly. They are only used to project the light on the screen. The lamps of the projectors which need to be replaced after running for several hundred hours are very costly again. One needs other equipment like the computers and other media players mentioned above to be used with them to run the computer applications and videos on them. They have a limitation of projection length. Either they have to be placed in the centre of the class and thus occupy a space in the middle of the classroom. This is because the effective projection length of an ordinary projector is only about 10 feet. So they need an extra fitting for them to be hung from the ceiling at an extra cost. In addition, they will need the projector screens to be hung on the wall. This again comes as an accessory to be bought in addition to the cost of the projector. The cost starts from Rs.2000 onwards depending on the quality and size of the screen.
• Another disadvantage of the overhead projector is that an electronic projector consumes a lot of electricity and thus the schools have to bear the increased power bills. No overhead projector will consume less than 300 watts per hour of electricity. They become useless in case of power cuts which are very common in India and the schools have to buy powerful inverters or UPS equipment to run these when the electricity fails.
Online dictionaries, encyclopaedias, picture dictionaries, talking dictionaries, online tests
• The boom of learning opportunities through internet has spread like a wild fire among the youth of today. Many students are becoming internet savvy. This is because the internet offers a multitude of opportunities through thousands of websites to the young learners. There are free online dictionaries, free online encyclopaedias, picture and talking dictionaries.
• Many websites offer online tests for practice to the students. There are a lot of learning videos available on several websites.
• The websites like the India Study Channel offers the students the opportunity to learn and earn. The website Study Village offers the younger children to learn various aspects of knowledge. There are websites like the Enchanted Learning which dedicate their content only for the young learners.
• There are internet sites which can make the students good story writers and painters by offering them free online training. One can learn almost everything on every subject through lakhs of videos available on the YouTube free of charge.
Educational CDs and DVDs, Televisions
• These days thousands of CDs and DVDs with educative content are available in the market at very cheap rates.
• One can get these multimedia gadgets almost on every subject ranging from simple nursery rhymes to very complex lessons for higher classes.
• These are very useful but you always need a working CD or DVD drive on your computer. Moreover, these multimedia discs take some time for initiation to come on the screen and thus waste time. Instead the data recorded in the computer's hard disk can be played fast.
• Educational content is also available nowadays on televisions which is relayed to home by Direct to Home (DTS) services like the Dish TV, Big TV, Tata Sky, Airtel, Sun TV and there are many others throughout the country. The programme called "Topper" is becoming quite popular among the students.
• Teaching became as important as tools of teaching in the past that you could not think of classroom without a teacher standing at the blackboard with chalk in hand, drawing diagrams and pictures or writing the lesson notes on the blackboard which the students busily copied in their notebooks. Though the same methods are continuing in most of the Indian schools, but many schools have changed to the modern methods of teachings as explained above. The best is to make use of both the traditional as well as the modern methods of teaching. Teachers of today have to keep abreast of the modern technology available for teaching and use each and every opportunity to get their classrooms equipped with the same. The teachers of today will need to change their teaching strategies according to the need of the hour. They have to be selective in choosing teaching aids relevant to the lessons and subjects they teach. "Guru-Shishya parampara" also should be maintained along with the modern ways of teaching.
Yes sir, you are correct about the teaching aids in class rooms. During my study in schools (in 1965's), Models of eye,brain,heart,ear have been brought to the class room and asked the students to dissemble and assemble. A good Approach!
Well written article with brief contribution in the concerned topic..
What should be the characteristics of a good chart to use in classroom?
I require a chart display board where 8-10 charts can be hanged and can be displayed one by one.