Thursday, April 26, 2012

Teaching Beyond the Walls and the Boundaries of a Traditional Classroom

The first image that comes to our mind when we think of a classroom is a room with benches and a blackboard, in charge of a teacher who comes and start babbling the new lesson, without bothering how many students are actually listening. This is the traditional classroom where students are passive listeners and are treated as mere subjects. But with the changing time, the classroom has also become a little interesting with advent of modern aids to make it interactive and practical. Still we find that there is a scope of improvement in our modern classrooms also, as the interest element is still missing. How to encourage more and more students to participate in the classroom activities?
The world has become a small place with the advent of hi-tech tools which have made life very easy and removed the geographical distances between people. The widely accepted technology of video conferencing is doing wonders in the field of education by giving ample opportunities to the students to choose from. Getting access of the best schools and colleges has become easier which are trying to lure a large number of students through the virtual class concept. The traditional mould of classroom teaching has changed into a much advanced stage of education, where a student can learn his favorite subject, sitting in his home.
The deserving students who can't reach their favorite schools and colleges due to geographical restraints can now get the best of faculty by registering to the virtual classroom, which is not restricted to the four walls of the school. Learning through video conferencing system is as effective as any real classroom learning, where each student gets the teacher's attention and a chance to get involved in all the classroom activities. The face to face interaction with the teacher boosts the confidence in the students who are learning through these interactive modes. They get their share of assignments which help in assessing their performance in the class.
Teaching through interactive tools is more interesting, as it gives the chance to the teacher to explore the subject more deeply and discuss the lesson plan with subject experts on a video chat before delivering the same to the students. And teaching students from around the world gives immense pleasure and a sense of achievement to the teacher whose only job is to give the best. The traditional classroom teaching has its own constraints which don't give the freedom to experiment with the subject. So adopting a practical approach of teaching beyond the classroom will give hands on experience to the students, who learn more by observation.
The students can have a real experience of the place when they are actually there to witness all with the help of video conferencing. As a teacher you don't have to explain the details of a particular site if they are able to see it in real. The excursions and field trips for the virtual classes can become a fun activity for the students who won't miss the four walls of the traditional classroom and will eventually fall in love with virtual teaching method.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Achieve Excellence With Student Management Systems

Educational institutions have gradually been convinced of the vast potential that student management systems can provide. Far from just being a voluntary training supplement, modern student management system packages are capable of providing efficient learning methods and resources designed to facilitate both faculty members as well as students. University administrators seeking cost-effective as well as basic tolls will likely find open-source CMS applications appealing, while more advanced faculty members are more willing to purchase customised CMS programs designed to handle more tasks compared to their freeware counterparts. No matter which of these services you prefer to use, they are both developed in order to track up-to-date information relating to students from a particular academy, the data being fed into the system are subsequently being monitored and can easily be modified in order to lessen the workload of a sizeable percentage of administrative tasks.
These customised CMS platforms likewise simplifies the organisational aspects involved with complex training courses, and more importantly, aid in streamlining registration as well as notification procedures, which is evidently a convenient feature for faculty staff members that have to deal with enrolment proceedings in addition to announcing important academic events. Productivity is particularly guaranteed to increase after CMS software has been implemented, automatically dealing with somewhat confusing attributes of the university's learning system. Furthermore, professional administrators are free to deal with other functions that cannot manually be dealt with by student management systems and conveniently monitor all pressing matters regarding inventories, course developments, payroll distribution, student relations into a single, easy to understand interface. The database has also been optimised to check in on students, keep administrators as well as educators well-informed about registration proceedings, neglected payment responsibilities, and academic performance and is moreover built to accept programmed improvements to deal with these matters accordingly.
The interactive aspect of the application is likewise being enhanced with each passing update. As of right now, modern learning management systems are able to track the general progress of students and observing if they are reacting to the lessons as well as training modules effectively or not. The resultant data taken from these observations are then analysed even further, culminating by eliminating particularly ineffective and useless training methods while at the same time introducing potentially successful learning programs. These features become even more important for educators who are seeking innovative teaching supplements in order to adapt to their respective fields. Students are able to benefit immensely from these management systems too. Depending on how you've set up your CMS software. Authorised students can easily view their grades and other additional information after they've been registered any properly recognised by the program. All of the authorised students are furthermore encouraged to engage in activities and conversations as well as voice out opinions and complaints to be submitted to the CMS software, which is consequently read by faculty staff and administrators.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Finding Our Passion

"Today is life - the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto."
- Dale Carnegie
Have you ever heard someone say (or maybe you've said it yourself) that their son or daughter, or nephew or niece, is away at university or college trying to find themselves? They're maybe in their first or second year, or beyond that, and they're unsure as to what career or life path they should be following. I guess if we haven't been through that situation ourselves, surely we know someone who has been, or is currently faced with that apparent dilemma.
A couple of weeks ago I borrowed a book on teaching from the teachers' library here in Alberta. It's called The Fourth Way: The Inspiring Future for Educational Change, by Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley. Towards the end of the book, the authors mentioned that they are professors at Boston College. In order to reiterate their point about teachers needing to grab hold to the positive changes sweeping the pedagogical landscape, the authors made reference to an interesting occurrence at Boston College. Every year this Jesuit run school has an opening lecture for its undergraduate students. As part of that lecture, the undergraduates are challenged to engage with three questions they should contemplate during their stay at school. Those questions are:
• Do you have a passion?
• Are you good at it, or can you become so?
• Does it serve a compelling social need?
The students are then told that if their answer to all three questions is "Yes", then they will experience absolute joy.
If a young person you know (or maybe it's you) is at a crossroads vis-à-vis life direction, don't you think those are powerful questions to ask that person (or yourself)? I think the three questions strike at the core of what it means to be an on-purpose person.
Isn't finding our life passion the "raison d'être" for our life? Although, wait now. What if your son or daughter or nephew or niece (or maybe it's you) says they haven't found their passion? Hence, that's the dilemma they're in.
Here's my response. "Okay, Bill, or Mary, or (fill in the name), think about this. Take a look around you. Who do you see that needs help? What do you see that needs improvement? What skill do you have, if further developed or refined, could make a profound difference? How could your talent, or talents, improve the well being of those in need? How could your energy and enthusiasm serve a compelling social need?"
I think in our heart of hearts we all want to make a meaningful contribution. All of us long for the self-satisfaction, the "joie de vivre" that comes from using the gifts God gave us to help others. Just imagine the ripple effect created in our communities, and in our world, if more people (young and not as young) made a pact with themselves to truly embody the message in those three questions.
The Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, once said: "We all carry the seeds of greatness within us, but we need an image as a point of focus in order that they may sprout." I believe that image, or point of focus, is our passion.