“Our digital learning aids integrate a thematic learning-based curriculum”,By, Ms. Pooja Agarwal, Founder Director of NatureNurture Eduserv Pvt. Lt

  1. Tell us about your company and services you provide?

NatureNurture is an Educational Management organization that provides products, processes and services to institutions, learners and parents across the country. NatureNurture provides Turnkey Solutions for new and existing school projects by providing customized curriculums, teacher trainings and materials and resources in the form of books, software, educational aids and innovation lab. Our dedicated team of experts conducts a baseline assessment of the partner school and provides complete solutions in terms of aligning their learning outcomes, providing resource material, training programs, orientation sessions, workshops, educator manuals, software, theme mapping, mobile labs, best pedagogic practices, assessments and intervention.

  1. Why is child-centric education need of the hour?

Education is not just about putting information in; it is about drawing out from the learner the knowledge, skills and understanding that is lying dormant in her. Clearly then, education cannot be limited to the books and the curriculum. As Gandhi said education must involve the all-round drawing out of the best in the individual; body, mind and spirit.

In the changing world, where education is evolving at a great pace and so is technology, it is the need of the hour to re-examine our teaching and learning processes. Children need to acquire experiential learning with real life associations to be able to solve problems, forge constructive and meaningful relationships, think critically and creatively, make decisions and communicate effectively, etc. to be successful in life. This is only possible if the curriculum is planned around the children.

  1. How can digital learning platforms make curriculum more child-centric?

In the 21st century, child is the digital native, a teacher is the digital immigrant and it is the role of the educator to use the best of TLPs to make the child a digital citizen.

To prepare our children for life, we have to stop edifying knowledge. Instead, we have to teach them something unique, as information is easily available to  the child. The child needs to learn to be able to contextualise and assess the available information. All planning must be done keeping the child’s needs at its heart and with the awareness that the world around us is dynamic and always in a flux. Google predicts the world information bank doubles every 2 hours; we just cannot prepare our children to be ready for tomorrow by simply giving them new  information, we need to give them the ability to meaningfully internalise the information they gather.

We must consider that our lives are driven and directed by technology, therefore, to ensure that our children are 21st century ready, at the same time we should always realise that technology is only the means, and not an end in itself. We need to be teaching our children how to build relationships and how to approach life and work. We need to provide them opportunities to develop skills such as communication, decision making, value, believing, independent thinking, teamwork, care for others, leadership, creativity, research and problem solving – skills that will make them 21st century ready.

Digital learning platforms can sometimes bring an additional dimension to break the monotony of the classroom. Channelling this interest, digital learning can be used to take them through hands-on real-time experiences that will help them garner the right skillset needed for them to be successful in life.

  1. How can digital learning integrate various domains of skilled-based learning?

Our digital learning aids integrate a thematic learning-based curriculum that builds on a child’s existing knowledge by establishing a correlation amongst different domains of learning. It transports the child to a higher level of thinking & provides him/her with a plethora of opportunities to be meaningfully engaged in tandem with his/her interests and intelligence. This gives the child multiple ways of expressing oneself.

  1. How making curriculum child-friendly helps to shift the focus from tradition textbook oriented learning to new-age form of it?

Firstly by no means can we comment on the desirability of digital content over traditional books. That is a preference each child makes based on their own learning styles, which has prompted several western countries to move back to traditional textbooks.

Customizing content and learning materials as per every child’s capabilities can help make the learning process fun and interesting. Shifting the focus from just serving the basic purpose of being textbook centric, complete customized content solutions help prepare and groom your child for upcoming challenges in life and make them future-ready.

How learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment is different for each individual. A mismatch between an instructor’s style of teaching and a student’s method of learning can create potential learning obstacles within the classroom. Therefore, activities should use a variety of teaching modalities (the new age form of learning) to deliver instruction.

  1. A lot of people compare digital learning with e-learning can you highlight difference between the two?

Once we understand that both are sub-sets of overall curriculum, neither should be anything more than a means to facilitate overall learner achievement. Leaving the jargon for the techies, we as educationists view both resources as valuable for the child.

It is important to understand that both methods of learning are very successful these days and are widely being used to impart knowledge. The major highlight is that e-learning refers to learning that happen over internet. The educator and the learner do not have to physically present around each other. This type of learning is a further subset of digital learning. Digital learning is essentially any learning that uses technology as a means to it. Whether instructional material is being designed and illustrated using technology, or the learner and educator are connected using technology, even if the subject matter is technology-related – all of this and more falls under the purview of digital learning. In particular, integration of STEAM labs forms a vital part of modern understanding of digital learning in schools.

  1. How can parents contribute and make learning more child-centric form early childhood education? And how can new-age learning contribute towards it?

Parents are the most important stakeholder in the school ecosystem and our HomeSchoolConnect program is designed to best empower every single parent in our schools. An important aspect that has to be kept in mind is that children do not learn only in a school. The entire world is their school: marketplaces, hospitals, cafes, trains, airplanes, home –it is infused into the society. Everywhere children go, they learn.

Our understanding of an“educator” is not just a licensed professionals at school. Parents and grandparents along with every person that a child interacts with are his/her educators. Thus, a strong home – school connect is truly important.

A curriculum that is planned keeping in mind the changed perceptions and roles of the school and the educator along with the needs of the child will undoubtedly be a successful one. Transaction of the curriculum must be done through activities that focus on integration of curriculum domains and building skills of the children through play. Play, especially for the little ones, is a way of learning. Strangely, many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.

Parents need to understand this connection and bridge the gap to find the right balance between making a child learn through activities at home and in educational institutes. They can use interesting theme-based workbooks, role-play learning activities and various online learning solutions that are available at the tap of a finger. All these are closely integrated in our  HomeSchoolConnect program part of the overall learning program.

  1. What is the right age to introduce digital learning to a child?

Let me redirect you to the quote, “In the 21st century, child  is the digital native, teacher is the digital immigrant and it is the role of the educator to use the best of TLPs to make the child a digital citizen.”

Thus, the child’s schooling is incomplete without being inducted as a responsible digital citizen. With the right pedagogy, several of our schools introduce concepts of coding as early as Kindergarten (2+), but a word of caution needs to be issued as without the right pedagogy and approach, technology’s propensity to damage and distract is equally devious.

  1. What are the challenges you face as a company and how do you overcome them?

Getting the school owners and principals to understand the true dimensions of the curriculum and educating them that the understanding of curriculum simply cannot be limited to books and syllabus. Textbooks are not the curriculum, the child is the curriculum. And every effort of all the stakeholders have to be geared to facilitating the learner achievement. Most of our outreach challenges require educating the various stakeholders as to why the school needs a structured curriculum which gives equal importance to the educator, school management and parents by ensuring they all work in coherence for the learner’s achievement.

  1. Where do you see yourself in next few years?

Over the next years, my primary focus will be on elimination of non-educational middlemen from our supply chain in order to save cost and invest the resources thus saved on research and development of materials and educational aids, augmentation of educators, along with family and community engagement. I also want to focus on increasing my outreach, reaching out to and partnering with maximum schools, especially philanthropic organisations looking to expand further, to make education more relevant to learners. Another cherished vision is to provide training capsules to empower the educators, who currently lack relevant training and skills, to make use of flexible curricular materials and technology along with various instructional strategies to best meet the needs of their learners. Moreover, I want to offer to the parents the entire range of educational aids at very affordable prices, so that they too can transform their home into fun filled yet learning spaces for their children. Finally, I want to work closely with government schools by creating a diluted version of the program we sell to the market; I believe that every child deserves quality education. Possibilities for NatureNurture to contribute meaningfully to the society are immense with the right vision.

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