Towards more effective teaching and learning through individual customization


Education in schools and colleges does not mean mere teaching and producing results in terms of all pass students in public examinations. The concept of customization is relevant in education as well. This is an urgent priority. Some nuances of individual customization possible are sought to be discussed in this article.

Introduction

How about allowing any student to study an additional Indian language by recruiting a teacher who knows to read and write and speak in it? If the school can conduct some online classes for any interested student through the teacher, and there are just six students in the eighth standard, but still the classes go on, the good word will spread and the school will gain a lot in terms of reputation.

A similar attempt can also be made in colleges by first creating the infrastructure and then offering the choices to the students. For example, some Arts and Science colleges in Tamil Nadu are already offering job-oriented courses in SAP and even machine learning. This is exactly what should happen. Furthermore, to fund the extra expenditure, all efforts can be made to tap Alumni resources and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of corporate organizations. Since the cause is a very noble cause, funds will positively start following.

Individual customization is the name of the game. The choice should be left to the students. Whatever shape the New Education Policy takes is unclear at this stage and since Education is a concurrent subject, the State Governments are bound to go their own way and not obey all the directions from the Government of India.

Be that as it may, individual customization, as a method of teaching and learning can be effectively implemented by and through a) Localized and customized training in life skills b) Enabling access to IT courses c) Communicating benefits to parents d) Forging links with industry for relevant courses and e) Individual counselling and direction as a routine.

Localized and customized training in life skills

There is one YouTube video in Tamil, that is viral now. Two college-going children are actively engaged in farming and learning from their parents the nuances of farming with great interest. IOf course, the interest is sustained because only online classes are being conducted in most colleges. In several pockets of India, there is a big churning and the organic farming movement is on in a big way. The trick is to make deeper and deeper in-roads in imparting such life skills to students in rural areas. There will obviously be some resistance from the students. And even parents. However, when they are fed with success stories of several hundreds of entrepreneurs who were former IT professionals, now gainfully employed in agriculture, with a big focus on organic farming, all things will fall in place. However, there should not be any compulsion. If the college is able to impart some knowledge and motivate some students through a certificate course in organic farming, there will be takers. This is exactly how the customization should be done.

In fact, this sort of customization follows from the need for creativity and innovation in teaching methods. This has been dealt with in the article Understadning why the lecture method is now becoming outdated. Readers are advised to read this article in conjunction with the under article under reference, to get a comprehensive picture of the dynamic changes that can be and should be introduced in the teaching methods.

Enabling access to IT courses

We really do not have any choice here. Information Technology and its utility through the smartphone become evident to any child even before he or she is just three years old. What is now important is to start to expose to computer basics right in the sixth standard and take it forward. By the student reaches the ninth standard, through a process of socialization with significant others like cousin brothers who might be working in the IT industry, it is quite likely that the student will be able to zero in on his passion. If he would want to become an IT professional, the best thing that the school can do is to get the particular student to have exposure to all the careers available in India and abroad. There could be more than ten such individuals in each class. The best that the school should do is to nurture his or her ambition and do the required hand-holding through competent teachers. In the ninth standard, the student needs more career counselling and if more than three teachers can be trained in the nuances of basic counselling skills and the career paths, the student is very much likely to go ahead in getting his passion in place. Customization will be complete when each student who is serious about an IT career will be able to relate to the various career choices available.

Similarly, it is also essential to enable those whose ambitions are different, to understand the basics of how IT plays a vital role in the medical field as well. He or she should be gradually taught more relevant inputs in the tenth standard and at the plus one and two levels as well. Such knowledge will form the foundation of a spark in the student who will be motivated to acquire more advanced knowledge.

Communicating benefits to students

Consider a certificate course in Cloud Computing being offered by a self-financing college at Rs 8000/-. Obviously, the money has to come from the parents. The only suitable line of action in this situation is to constantly communicate the utility of such courses to all parents, to get their buy-in.

It should also be noted that the benefits of such courses will prepare the individual student to take on further challenges in his or her IT career. The colleges need to compulsorily take the path of customization in the context of emerging fields like Artificial intelligence. This is one imperative that no one can ignore anymore. As far as IT applications are concerned, there is no doubt that IT will be the future in every walk of life like never before.

Forging links with industry for relevant courses

Coimbatore city, for example, is home to a good Foundry industry that supplies a good deal of auto-components to auto majors. The scope for Diploma and even Degree courses in Foundry technology is very high. Similarly, there are a number of engineering colleges already offering Textile Technology in and around Coimbatore and the neighbouring Tiruppur, which is a big textile hub.

There is a case for introducing job-oriented courses in a variety of fields like industrial chemistry, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and so on; of course, the industry should have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the local colleges and the industrial experts should also be part of the teaching process; furthermore, there is always a case for quality internships and the entire orientation should be on providing jobs to those who undergo such courses.

Individual counselling and direction as a routine

This is a big imperative. The individualized and customized type of learning cannot be implemented if the students are not properly guided and motivated. Furthermore, every student should be able to feel the impact of the hand-holding efforts of teachers at every stage. What is most important and significant is the fact that while the nitty-gritty of the entire process will vary from situation to situation, the essential counselling and direction is something that cannot be compromised.

One can always learn from experience. The trick is to start the process somewhere and keep it going for a very long period of time.

Conclusion

The entire teaching process has to be totally revamped to reflect the movement towards constructive outcomes, like never before. When educational institutions go through the steps outlined above, there is bound to be good results.


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