The tablets vs textbooks debate in Gurgaon schools

Nov 2013 Source: Times of India

In Gurgaons schools, tablets are the new textbooks and browsing has replaced the act of 'flipping through pages'. While some moms think this new audio-visual tech-savvy style of teaching is paisa vasool, and will ensure that their child gets a more holistic learning experience, other mothers want the good ol' days back, when kids would work on their handwriting, without getting distracted by that Facebook tab.

According to Arvind K Chalsani, principal, senior school, Pathways World, "Primary school students are given iPads by the school to encourage their research skills at an early stage during their IT classes. Students in middle school, starting from grade 6, are encouraged to carry laptops, while it's mandatory for senior school Grade 11 and 12 students to carry laptops."

Mats Rosen, head of school, Kunskapsskolan, added, "The textbooks that have been used for several years are now outdated, and if changes are to be made, they take years to incorporate. When I was a teacher, there were times I felt that I could explain a particular topic by use of diagrams and illustrations and that would engage them as well as keep them interested in the subject, this can be done by means of digital books."

Shalini Nambiar, director, Excelsior American School, says, "There is a generation gap between the teachers as well as students, and the teaching methodolgies need to change. My teachers are doing exactly this. Sharing of notes through emails instead of taking an hour to copy and wasting time."

Why schools need textbooks

Priya Jain*, 38, who works as a graphic designer, tells us why she wants her two-year-old to go to a school where he can learn from textbooks:

Books are books - they have a different touch and feel to them. Laptops/tablets can't replace textbooks.

While at school, so many times we just copied the text from the books into our notebooks, it was practice for better handwriting as well as the speed that is required during exams.

While the kid is studying, he/she has so many tabs open, including Facebook and YouTube, which distract him from focusing on learning. In class, while the teacher is teaching, the kids can easily watch a movie with headphones on. Someone has to always keep a watch over the children.

When the Wi-Fi conks off, the child can't study because there are no books.

Instead of reading, kids click on the audio button and the computer reads out the information in every subject. Books, on the other hand, instill patience, going page by page.

I remember we drew diagrams, illustrations, etc for Biology, Chemistry and other subjects. I think my child should learn that as well.

Why schools need laptops/tabs/ipads

Kanupriya Chaddha*, 37, who works as a volunteer with a hospital and whose son studies in class IV of an international school, tells us why new- age learning through laptops, iPads and tablets is important:

Books are outdated and the web has updated information for Gen Z kids about everything that has happened till date. It's simply smarter learning.

It takes several years to rectify even a small error in textbooks, but it can be done much faster on online pages.

Forgetting a textbook at home doesn't deter students from learning from web-based information, and it is a holistic approach to learning

Data in the form of chapters with audio as well as video helps kids to understand a subject much better.

Mathematics has become fun for kids because they learn the subject through online games.

Parents learn to be tech-savvy along with their child, while trying to catch up with their homework, etc.

Even though teachers are not authors, sometimes they do have expertise on a particular topic, and can add/edit information in a chapter, and make it easily understandable.

They are exposed to the web anyway, thanks to smartphones and other gadgets, why not utilize it for learning? 

Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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