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TECHNOLOGY OVERCOMING THE KILOMETERS: DIGITAL SCHOOLS

WHAT ARE DIGITAL SCHOOLS?

In an increasingly digital world, technology serves as an incredibly powerful tool to educate and shape young minds. Digital schooling serves to instruct students through multimedia (ie. video, graphics, and audio) rather than using the traditional face to face modality. Despite not having brick and mortar schools, teachers have still been able to teach children everything from their ABCs to the different parts of a sunflower. 

TRADITIONAL SCHOOLS VS. DIGITAL SCHOOLS

The main difference between learning in a traditional classroom setting and distance learning is the physical presence of the teacher. While teachers may be speaking to a camera and working with your children from behind a screen, their passion to promote education is equal to that of a teacher in front of a chalkboard. Instructors who teach digital courses have the same teaching credibility and experience in designing curriculum as a traditional instructor, and they have the same love for their students. Teachers are required to attend workshops and training sessions related to instructional technology, so the actual content and way your student is being taught is in no way limited by online schooling. The curriculum is actually assisted by the online software that is used, as graphics and animation are innovative ways to make learning exciting and fun. 

TRADITIONAL SCHOOLS VS. DIGITAL SCHOOLS

POTENTIAL DISADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL SCHOOLS

Some argue that the limited interaction with teachers may pose a challenge in the development of student’s behavioral and social skills. Since teachers are not physically present, it is argued that they will not be able to exercise discipline and maintain a peaceful classroom environment. Another potential disadvantage includes the lack of a strong teacher-student bond, which is critical to have to improve a student’s attitude about classwork and academics in general. If students do not feel like they have a trusted adult to confide in, they may not feel comfortable in a classroom environment and may not feel like they’re being paid attention to as an individual. 

ADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL SCHOOLS

However, while teachers may not be physically present they are given the ability to communicate with students through online software and the Internet, and can thus still be invested in their student’s lives. The main advantage of online schooling is the availability of teachers, which can help establish trust between teacher and student. While in a traditional setting distance may be an issue, online schooling erases that problem, as students and teachers are able to interact through video-chatting software, such as WebEx or Skype. Shy children may even feel more comfortable with their teachers, as digital schooling removes the awkwardness of face to face communication. 

Advantages of Digital School

In addition to the support offered online by the instructor, students can also develop behavioral and social skills through interaction with their classmates at distance schooling facilities and interaction with the other supervisors physically present. For example, each digital school built under JAAGO in Bangladesh has a group of children attending online lectures. Through daily classroom activity involving small group discussions and activity-based learning, students are able to understand the importance of collaboration and friendship. Moreover, supervisors present in digital schooling facilities can help the instructor manage the classroom and identify individual learning needs.

The individual academic and social growth of each student is also organized through electronic progress reports and records, making it easier for the curriculum to be changed for the needs of each student. It is crucial to note that the implementation of digital schooling does not erase the personal attention an instructor can offer to each individual student, as children can also engage in online one on one conferences with their teacher. These online conferences may actually help students open up more about their academic and social needs, as they are less intimidating than face to face meetings. 

JAAGO’S IMPLEMENTATION OF DISTANCE LEARNING

Here at JAAGO, we’ve used technology to overcome the distance separating our students and teachers. Children in Bandhabar and other parts of the village have the opportunity to speak and interact with teachers hundreds of kilometers away in Dhaka, all through a hooked-up camera and television screen. 

While digital schooling may not include a physically present teacher, it is critical to making our vision to educate the underprivileged a reality. JAAGO started with a small classroom of 17 students and has now been able to reach 3500 children through 12 schools, with 9 of them being digital schools. In the future, we hope to help touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of other children through online applications and video conferences with our incredibly passionate teachers.  

It is imperative to emphasize that the call to educate our children is not restricted to the capital. Over 31 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, with a good chunk of this percentage living in the village. Their status and the distance they are from our teachers should not deny them the right to a good future. Digital schooling has helped us outreach a hand to children all over Bangladesh, and it will continue to help JAAGO give children the tools to unlock their potential and chase their dreams.