Edexperts : Interview with Clive Rogers
We are very thrilled to have Mr. Clive Rogers, an international educationist talk to us in our first interview under the ‘Edexperts’ series . Through this series, early childhood development and education professionals will share their expertise and valuable opinions with all our readers!
Mr. Clive Rogers has had experience in both public and private schools in the UK and has led several British and International schools in the Caribbean, Europe, Middle East, and Asia. As an educationist and a leader with 36 years of teaching experience in a variety of educational systems, he says that his enthusiasm and passion for teaching is as powerful as it was when he started way back in 1976. He thoroughly enjoys the challenges and satisfactions of establishing new schools in different countries and cultures.
Currently, Mr. Rogers is the Founding Director of the Mount Litera International School in Mumbai where he is guiding the school through its startup stage.
In this interview, Mr. Rogers has shared some extremely insightful advice, cutting-edge pedagogical practices and observations about the constantly changing nature of the education sector. He also shares his opinion on using integrated technology for education, role of teachers and schools in improving learning outcomes and much more!
What is the role of movement based games & game based learning in the future of mainstream education?
At the early years and primary level; listening skills, ability to follow directions and the ability to make decisions are paramount in the development of children. All of these factors are also very critical in the way we approach learning. Schools need to adopt an inquiry-based program. The program should help children understand simple rules, simple guidelines and help them make an informed decision using the knowledge they have. An interactive game should be educational, practical and tap into the three ways that children learn, kinesthetically, auditory and obviously, visual. Nayi Disha’s program can do all three.
Most children have two abilities and I think, tapping into those areas of learning is very critical. In early years, I see it as a form of understanding through visual and auditory means, gaining rewards for successful completion or understanding of a topic or question and having fun!
Children love fun. Children love to be active. Children love to have rewards. Nayi Disha’s program stimulates them on three levels. A mixture of teacher led and a student-led activity is needed. Traditionally, the problem is that most schools only deliver teacher-led activities as opposed to student-led activities. I think that’s a shame. Your program itself can help understand that the teacher is a facilitator, whereas the program takes over the role of instilling motivation, integration, knowledge in the process and understanding every voice. Children are exposed to a lot of media, exciting things and glimpses when it comes to their learning. The problem is that we in traditional Indian schools do not replicate that in our institutions. Does a school have elements like visual stimulus and activities that are interesting, and yet at the same time help the children acquire skills? I think your program does that. Therefore, it is able to reach children. Maybe, not at all levels but it does cover the three levels of learning styles and that is fun.This underpins learning very quickly. As a teacher, you could do assessments right away. For example, you can understand from the child’s hand movement, if, they got something right. Was there a blockage there? If yes, what was it? Was it language-related or just visual?
As an educator, what are the online and offline resources you would recommend for teachers looking to adopt out of the box techniques / cutting edge pedagogical practices in the class?
Digital learning now is fully embraced in education. It has become an integral part of education. I think ‘HOW’ schools and teachers use it, is probably extremely important. As an educator, I feel it is absolutely an essential tool. There are many programs out there. For example, Cat assessment online. The reason that a lot of programs are online these days is because it becomes more efficient or interesting to deliver them, rather than face to face or through a human being. Children, now are far more motivated from media than they are with a teacher. The teacher is a facilitator.We should embrace and integrate digital learning. Nayi Disha’s program does that.It helps children, especially, at an early age, when we are building on their fundamentals and understanding. It is crucial in the development of children.
From a developmentally appropriate standpoint, what are some key attributes which one must look for in any early childhood technology learning aid ?
Simplicity of use. Appropriate language should be used for a particular age-range. It should be very reward and success based, in terms of if a child does something right , he/she should be rewarded back and receive acknowledgement too. It must be teacher-friendly and easily accessible. A teacher should be able to organize it easily. A teacher cannot spend half an hour getting ready. It has to be very functional, very quick and integrated within the school smoothly. Nayi Disha provides that. I would look for these elements for a school to use them. A learning aid should be a fantastic resource. We have smart boards in our schools, but they will be soon replaced with interactive TVs, mobile facilities where applets will be used. What better way to integrate the system into mobile-led learning? Learning does not only have to take place in a classroom. It should be able to take place elsewhere too. You can only do that if you have a facility or a program, which you can take with you, along with its hardware.
International schools do have a lower student-teacher ratio. If you have a forty to one student-teacher ratio in a class, it presents quite a few challenges for the teachers. Digital learning is able to manipulate that to a positive learning experience, simply because it captivates a bigger audience. It helps teachers to become good organizers. That’s why, I would definitely embrace ICT.
What are the tech-aids that you use in your school?
Smart boards, Applets for learning, smart board programs that are interactive. I will be using digital badges as well. When a student performs on something and acquires a skill and success, they will gain a digital badge. This will then be recorded into a digital form. This will carry with them right throughout the school year. We will also use Apple TVs. For evidence and peer assessments, we use the video capacity of the iPads. I am very keen for our students to use and have a mixture of windows based operations, which are functional in the ICT programs. We are also developing Apple as a support mechanism for our school. We want to bring in digital ways of supporting the parents, basically for improving communication. Having an online system for reporting any sort of communication is vital as well.
We look at a lot of online assessments done through data. The reason they are online because it prevents human error. The feedback is more accurate. It’s instant and is able to give you a wider perspective for students than it is in assessments and learning styles than done by a human. It takes on the norm. CAT test is an example, where a child will set over three hours, do an assessment and is instantly given feedback. The information that you get on the pupil is a lot, which you can share with the child and parents. That is effective use of technology. Schools should use the information to increase a student’s performance in school, improve teaching ability and deliver programs. Are schools delivering programs correctly? Data can tell you more about that. Collection of data and analyzing the same can be done through technology. It is also real time and one does not have to wait for three weeks to get the reports. It is more efficient. In terms of work place, it increases productivity and efficiency of teachers. Teachers should be enabling sessions and teaching rather than writing all the time. It helps the teachers to make judgments, which are based on information that is correct, accurate and diverse.
How easy or difficult do the teachers find it to use technology?
Most people these days know how to operate a smart phone. Technology is one thing and training is another. They both go hand in hand. If you want a teacher to be efficient, work productively, more knowledgeable or creative, then you must provide training for them in all the applications that you want to install in school. They become more proficient, risk-takers and creative with the amount of knowledge that is given to them. My teachers can never stop training . You will find that if you do train the teachers, some of them will excel at that and become trainers themselves.
I think Schools have the responsibility to train teachers in using technology in the schools. Most teachers in my point of view, who have come here are potty trained when it comes to technology. It is something that probably is not looked at in universities and colleges as a tool for teaching, but it should be there. In this digital age, they need that as a skill. A lot more technological tools are being used in education now, and yet, you will find that the training of the teachers does not facilitate the use of ICT in teaching. It should be a part of the program. If you are a trained teacher, using technology should be an element of the course. Teachers should be equipped to use technology when in an university. At the moment, a lot is left on the schools. Schools are expected to provide that training, as and when it seems fit to introduce technology in the system.
Can you share some instances of impact of technology on children and teachers?
I give my teachers a lot of interactive websites that they can use on the smartboard. It makes a big difference in the ability to deliver, make lessons interesting for the students and at the same time, underpin skills and concepts. Also, one of the problems that a teacher faces today is the lack of information and where to get that. I think that is another area where as a school; we will be very proactive with. Providing them with resources like quality teaching websites and sites that share practices from other teachers is essential. Good practices in technology and bringing them to the forefront are paramount. I would also like to create smart tables that are interactive. I would like teachers to create their own applications and then put them out. Minecraft can be used as a very interesting educational tool if guided in the right way. After all, it is like digital building as in Lego and also, more practical. I would certainly be introducing that as a form of learning for students. I want to create a digital experience for children where they are not just limited by certain programs but also where they can learn through play and activity, which is structured and backed by a safe environment. Technology is here to stay. I think that although it will never replace a teacher, it will work side by side with the teacher in ensuring that schools create the best opportunities for the children to learn.
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