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Audio-visual teaching methods need evaluation

Audio-visual teaching methods need evaluation
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Digi-classes, computer-assisted learning, audio-visual lessons, computer labs and language labs, multimedia in classrooms are all here to stay and...

Digi-classes, computer-assisted learning, audio-visual lessons, computer labs and language labs, multimedia in classrooms are all here to stay and grow. Research confirms that while involving students in one-to-one teaching or in the learning process through tasks and seminars is of a higher order, the impact of audio-visuals is higher than the conventional lecture mode or the chalk and talk method. It makes learning more interesting while providing teachers with better tools. We have witnessed this revolution, how technology and its right use at the right time with quality content to support and enhance the aims of classroom teaching have enhanced the cognition, retention, participation, recapitulation and reproduction abilities of learners. Many unaided schools now use their digi-classrooms as a bait to attract and fleece parents who are eager for quality education, though the digi-content is rarely put to maximum use as the teachers in many institutions lack the skill, orientation and will to utilize it.
No wonder then that the situation of audio-visual support for students in government schools, colleges and especially those from rural or tribal belts is quite disturbing with the administration spending quite large sums year after year on the preparation and airing of the content with less than 10% benefit at the end, largely defeating the purpose. Obviously the gap between the lacunae in the process of delivery from one side and reception from the other has not been either noticed or taken seriously by the superiors; added to this, what is recorded at random for formal feedback is too vague, flowery or appeasing and noncommittal, helping the authorities continue in their complacence. Consequently, the investment and time as well as the efforts of the government are going waste. It is very satisfying to see the schedule of tele-lessons being planned, recorded and telecast through MANA TV, SAPNET, for colleges or higher education, for intermediate board exam goers, for development of interview skills, personality development and communication skills through special programmes addressing the tertiary learners. It is heartening to view the curriculum-based lessons from all subjects for the high-school goers as well as the primary sections in addition to the orientation and guidance being provided to teachers of our state. Many experts, individuals as well as organisations from all over our State are involved in the planning and presentation for the benefit of all the learners, and especially for those who are in remote areas and short of infrastructure facilities and faculty. Similarly, the SSA has designed many audio lessons; the 'Meena' radio programme appreciated by UNICEF brings many relevant social and gender issues for discussion and awareness to the youngsters, and the Rajiv Vidya Mission has audio lessons for all the classes. But is this effort truly reaching out? Are the tribal children at least in the Grukulam schools (APTWREIS) able to hear/view and benefit? The ambitious Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) programme is plagued with problems like poor transmission of radio signals and defunct status of radio sets in several schools. I present here what I know from the Gurukulams' experience with MANA TV lessons and it can give us an idea of what could be the condition in other government schools and colleges, probably even to a greater degree on the minus side. Of the 80 residential Gurukulams, only 44 are provided with the TV set and equipment. Their junior colleges do not have this facility at all. Initially the government spent money to set up the equipment, which costs around Rs. 10,000; assigned the responsibility of maintenance to an organization, and gave an honorarium to the in-charge of the school to monitor and maintain the set, inform teachers and see that the programme is viewed. But now the schools are expected to purchase the equipment and hardly anyone is enthusiastic to invest. The efficiency of the sets set up is poor and the transmission is often interrupted as in many places most of the sets are dysfunctional. The antenna gets disturbed for natural reasons, animals and birds hopping on to them in the tribal locales, rains and hails, etc, and there is no means of getting it set right. There is no additional incentive to the in-charges of these sets which can motivate them. Poor infrastructure like lack of a separate room where the set can be fixed, the need to shift it to the different classes makes it too cumbersome for any. Coming to the quality and relevance of the content in these programmes, the faculty members of all subjects feel that the MANA TV lessons are good, presented with power points, showing experiments which are sometimes difficult to show in the classrooms. They feel the same cannot be said about the audio lessons being aired. But they are disappointed as only 10% roughly� seems to be the benefit from all the programmes. Sometimes the schedule is not uploaded into the website in time for the few enthusiastic teachers to show it when broadcast. Next, the timings do not set into the school and college academic timetables; often teachers are reluctant to sacrifice their teaching time to benefit the students in some other subject. Further, the programmes lose their impact and relevance unless shown at the right time in the child's learning schedule. The programme fails when shown in the fixed slots as either the teacher may not have started the lesson in his regular class, or may have finished it some time back and then the students find a revision of it at that time to be pointless. In an academic year, in the 30 to 35 slots allotted for each subject, the expert presenters do not cover all the aspects in detail. Many of the lessons are not interactive and, therefore, the students' attention gets diluted unless the transmission is good, the topic interesting and linked with their classroom topic of that week, with something to complement what they are learning through the other available resources. Another discordant note worth noting is that the government Model schools now have English as the medium of instruction to promote rural talented children while the TV and radio programmes being aired are only in Telugu and, therefore, are not of much use here. It would be useful if the topics were done in both media simultaneously. It is the right time to take this suggestion now that the State has revised and modified its curriculum on the CBSE lines and most of the lessons to be broadcast also need to be framed anew. As an easy and feasible practical way out of this sad scenario, and to optimize the benefits, almost all the teachers have expressed some affordable solutions. A TV set with a DVD player facility would be useful for this purpose and under-audio visual education many schools are already equipped with a TV set. If CDs and DVDs of the lessons are provided to all schools, it would be highly beneficial and apt for the following reasons. It is more economical than setting new antennas and sets for direct telecast of the SAPNET programmes, operating a TV would be more user friendly, lessons can be shown as and when the concerned subject teachers deal with the topics and, therefore, include it into the interactive classroom environment, the lessons could be shown even when any of the teachers are otherwise engaged (which is very common with all the additional duties being entrusted to teachers from time to time) or when a revision of the lessons in brief is essential like say before any test or examination, and for self-learning too. At least in the coming academic year, let our officials take an objective and critical feedback, listen to the teachers' needs, provide the government schools with CDs and DVDs of all the useful audio visual lessons, broadcast the lessons in both media for school children, provide the basic, functional infrastructure facilities to all the schools and colleges and help our disadvantaged learners from the multimedia teaching venture.
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