While the primary functions of the teacher as an educator, mentor, and emotionally intelligent person remains, teachers should be well equipped to meet the challenges and aspirations of a digital student.
There are about 1 crore teachers in India with 70% of them working in government schools. As per government data, the Pupil-Teacher Ratio at the national level for primary schools is 23:1, for upper primary schools is 25:1 and for Secondary level is 26:1. On the face of it, we seem to have addressed the issue of access to education – including school infrastructure and availability of teachers resulting in improvement in enrolments. However, annual surveys on state of education highlight the gap in grade level performance of students.
The role of a teacher in improving education outcomes cannot be stressed enough. The National Education Policy of 2020 states that the teacher must be at the centre of fundamental reforms in the education system. A report by McKinsey noted that globally teachers spent less than 50% of their working hours in direct interaction with students.
In the Indian Context, a study by NEUPA found that only 19.1 percent of a teacher’s annual school hours are spent on teaching activities. Of the remaining 81 percent, 42.6 percent of the teacher’s time is spent in non-teaching activities, 31.8 percent in non-teaching school-related activities and 6.5 percent on other department activities.
COVID19 and the resulting shutting down of schools necessitated a fresh approach to teaching. . Video conferencing solutions like Zoom, Google Meet etc, became the norm during the pandemic year. However, this had its own set of challenges – the most common being the inability of the teacher to clarify the doubts of students through these classes. Other challenges in online teaching include not able to explain concepts clearly, and not being able to monitor the understanding of students in an online classroom.
Need for an Intelligent Teaching Assistant: The role of teaching assistant is not new. several professors, especially from the international higher education space, often engage one or more teaching assistant(s) to take care of the non-teaching aspects so they can focus more on core activities of teaching, conceptual discussions, and student interaction. This is where technology, especially AI, can play a vital role. AI can automate the non-teaching activities of the teacher like preparation, understanding learners’ levels, and assignments. Most of the current edtech applications focus on the student. They leave the teacher out of the system – excluding an important stakeholder in the student learning process. As a result of this, despite numerous edtech applications being available for the student, their effect is still questionable. As the McKinsey report points out – “Integrating effective software that links to student-learning goals within the curriculum – and training teachers on how to adapt to it – is difficult.”
The role of an intelligent teaching assistant finds a mention in the NEP 2020. It explicitly mentions having AI-based software, used by students, to help track growth through their school years based on learning data and interactive questionnaires for parents, students, and teachers. The objective of the application is to provide all stakeholders with valuable information on the learners’ strengths, areas of interest, and needed areas of focus, and to thereby help them make optimal career choices.
Geneo@School is developed on the same lines – to be an intelligent partner in the digital transformation of teachers and their teaching methodology. Geneo@School will help the teacher to be more efficient. . The offering consists of Geneo@Home for the students with a provision of a Learning Management System for the teachers. Using Geneo@School, teachers can use inbuilt tools including digitized textbooks to teach effectively. They can send targeted learning material to the students individually, create and schedule assignments that are auto evaluated. Teachers are provided with a dashboard that gives them an insight not only into the learning levels but also the preferred learning experiences of individual students. This approach of creating a learner’s digital record also helps when a new teacher is assigned to a class.
Geneo@Home has inbuilt teacher training modules focusing on the need of teachers to adapt to a blended learning environment. The training modules cover perspectives on teaching, learning theories for creating effective 21st-century learning ecosystems; learning design principles for online teaching to effectively motivate students and enhance their learning progressions, and using various tools available for an online teaching environment.