This article is a component of a questionnaire that was framed as a part of Digital Education Program which is being executed at a renowned university in the world with the objective to create the awareness about digital education and its impact in 21st century. Being an educational leader and a digital citizen, I consider it my prime responsibility to aware the reader about the challenges and opportunities for leaders and educators in rural areas and in low budget schools. Hence, below is the conversation with the eminent educationists who leads the group of schools in rural areas and have delved deeper into the successful incorporation of technology in schools located in countryside. All the questions were drafted keeping the ISTE standards in mind and have undergone multiple refinements by the professors of the university.
Standard 7a –Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities.
Interviewer -1. What values are the most important in this school to encourage teachers to incorporate technology while forming the character of the students considering diversity in account? why
Principal – Well, as our school is progressing towards achieving the target of quality education, hence, learning with fun is given utmost importance. We aim to provide the joyous and positive learning environment to every child enrolled in our school. As far as diversity is concerned, group discussions and activities bring all the communities together in the classroom which has given us tremendous positive results when conducted in the classroom. In relation to technology, various discussion forms have helped us to know our students better and to bring something in the premises that facilitate the learning. This value is constant in our institution because it is considered as a norm while being admitted here and one must be open to every culture, race and community while filling the employment or the admission form for this school.
Standard 7b -Partner with educators, leaders, students, and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology.
Interviewer- What kind of platforms are used to maintain healthy balance between using technology and passing information to students in school premises? Are majority of schools open to multi-cultural interactions professionally especially with educators from low budget schools or from rural areas?
Principal- Indeed, irrespective of the location, every school has students with special needs and struggle to study with normal students. Likewise, in our school, many digital tools are being used to assess the mental health of the child that keep the educators and guardians informed about the mental state of the ward. As far as teacher training is concerned, educational technologists are appointed in every school that takes care of Learning Management System. However, this is true it takes a long to reach the updated technological methodologies to reach here and it is even more challenging to install the top-notch system in low band width areas. Digitally, we are open to interactions where educator learn about new programs and events to let their students participate and endeavour to be at par with metropolitan educators. Our teachers enthusiastically share their findings at national and international levels and maintain professional relationships at global level.
Standard 7c: Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions.
Interviewer- What are the assumptions kept when it comes to interacting with classrooms in countryside? Is it challenging in terms of time zones and language barriers?
Principal- The first and the foremost is connectivity issue that is the kind of challenge where you can hardly do anything over it except preparing everyone to deal gracefully with the repercussions. During virtual classrooms, it took us long to see 100 percent presence in the class when every child was not accessible to sound internet connection and In low budget school where equipping every child with a tablet is a long sighted dream, it left us helpless until we came with certain solutions like recording the classes and provided asynchronous mode of teaching and learning. In terms of global connectivity, least priority is given to schools in rural districts and educator do burn the midnight oil to find a veteran who is keen on seeing children studying in rural or non -profit schools.
Standard 7d: Empower educators, leaders, and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect.
Interviewer- How many virtual communities outreach programs or trainings have been done for educators to determine their safety during the COVID-19 pandemic? Are there some perks or benefits given to the teachers who are continuously upgrading themselves?
Principal- Well, this is enlightening. Certainly, many of our educators have presented the best instructional strategies at various educational platforms and have been awarded with Microsoft Trainers and Google Certified Educators. Appreciation awards have been given to them to recognize their potential. The school management is also working on framing programs where opportunities can be provided to teachers to work incorporation with leadership roles and better opportunities can be provided to them.
ISTE Standard 7: Digital Citizen Advocate
a. Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities.
b. Partner with educators, leaders, students, and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology.
c. Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions.
d. Empower educators, leaders, and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect. (ISTE, n.d.).