Why We Need to Engage Learners Through Technology

From the time we realised that Covid-19 was to be here with us longer than any other pandemic in recent times, there have been some changes in the way we engage with learners. The disruption brought about by Covid-19 is only an eye opener to those in the education sector. Most, if not all the tools schools used to engage the learners have been around way before Covid-19 came. Meanwhile, it is important to note that engaging learners through technology not just as a result of Covid-19 but a necessity for 21st Century teaching and learning.

The major goal of engaging learners through technology should actually be to prepare them to be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in a globally connected society. The learner therefore needs various avenues through which help them acquire skills and expertise that will enable them meaningful connections with the world around them.

How technology enabled learning helps learners

Traditionally, most of the learning has been in the walls of the classroom. But with technology enabled learning, a learner can access resources from around the world and from a wide pool of teachers. It cold be that the learner missed some concepts while at school and therefore For example, how would access to internet help a learner?

  • A learner who seeks to be helped in understanding complex mathematics concepts can seek the services of an online coach at their convenience, say in the evening or over the weekend. A perfect example of this is senior1.org an online learning platform where learners can book a teacher to help them with their studies.
  • With online collaboration platforms, students don’t need to be under the same roof with a teacher in order to learn. They may not even be available at the same time but able to work on a group project at their time of convince.
  • In the real world, not all schools have the same robust facilities, say science labs. With internet available, a school that may not have some facilities can offer its students a rich virtual experience in chemistry or biology practicals from another school with these facilities.
  • There are students who have creative writing, music or any other performing arts. These can be helped in that they can can publish their work to a broad global audience regardless of which school they go to. Senior1.org once again has tried to achieve this by encouraging it’s senior one learners to practice their writing skills by contributing articles to the student blog. Yvette Lucy one of the learners wrote an essay on her Covid-19 experience which can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

What we need to learn as teachers

To remain relevant in our careers, we should learn to weave 21st century competencies throughout the teaching and learning experience environment. The development of critical thinking, complex problem solving and collaboration skills should not be left to our learners but also for ourselves. Teachers should also learn to add multimedia communication into the teaching of traditional subjects. 

The good news is that some schools have realized the need and are helping their teachers acquire these skills early enough. I was privileged to facilitate a teachers’ EdTech workshop with Ogwal Isaac at Tijaar Community School Nkondo Kakumiro District were teachers were taken through the basics of delivering in a blended and hybrid classroom environment.

The Government of Uganda is also championing this cause by organising several school leaders’ workshops to help them fit in a fast changing teaching and learning environment. I happened to facilitate at an UCC funded ICT workshop for headteachers from the districts of Mpigi, Gomba and Butambala which was hosted by St. Maria Goretti SS Katende.

All these are indications that the future of our classrooms is in tech and a teacher who hasn’t realised this may wake up when it is too late to catch up.