When an organization has a flat structure, it is usually characterized by its open and networked ways of communication.
Technology enables this network of communication. A school is an organization too and technology affects its structure and processes.
Structures are what predispose you to act in a certain way – it confines you to act within that constraint. It is a static view. Types of structure are physical, social, and cultural structures. E.g. of a structure being that one cannot address the teacher by name.
Process is the view of the flow. An example of a process is how teaching and learning takes place in a school i.e. hidden curriculum.
Structures are how things are organized.
Process is how things happen.
There are 3 ways in which ICT can assist and shape schooling – virtual schooling, de-schooling, and re-schooling.
In virtual schooling – the original structure and processes is retained and you use ICT to deliver and enable it. E.g. distance education, Rohit Pande's Classteacher.com.
Along with serving the needs of education, virtual schooling also aims to use digital technology to provide ongoing institutional support. But with teachers barely coming to school and 1 in 5 children dropping out - onsite support is needed more than virtual.
Virtual schooling is also what is said to increase ‘market efficiency’ by providing competition. What it undeniably does is increase the content available for teachers. Virtual schooling is said to provide choice a d flexibility to each learner.
What is important to remember that virtual schooling comes with the preset notion that the parents have time to give, are interested in homeschooling, have the resources, and are literate enough to facilitate virtual schooling. And if that isn’t there then there is no point in extolling the virtues of virtual schooling.
Technology lead de-schooling talks about completely abandoning the idea of schools. It has its roots in 70’s left of center, Ivan Illich. Although when he spoke about de-schooling his intentions were different. He questioned the idea of a school and believed that schools were making a hierarchical learning community and stating it as normal.
This idea of de-schooling was taken up and lead by ICT. It built on the notion that the community will step up.
So, when it comes to ICT in education, left of center you have anarchist Illich with his de-schooling and on the right of center you have Tooley and Sugata Mitra, with their Hole in the Wall and pod schools - who believe that the market and the government should get out of welfare. Both views are operationally similar but one must dig deeper to understand why they are different. ICT may or may not fundamentally improve dissatisfaction with current schooling.
Digital schooling is an alternative to traditional schooling. With the SSA encouraging free and compulsory education, the RTE putting a 25% reservation in place and having no drop out till the 8th- efforts are being made to get children into school and making them stay there and then to have de-schooling as a concept that is extolled goes against the existing effort. De-schooling will work in a community where each individual and family is passionate and educated or has the wherewithal to provide education in a radical way - but expecting every community to be like this will take time. To have tech bypass traditional education - there must be some education to speak of - this works in an environment where homeschooling is seen to have a noted rise in learning outcomes. But in environments where it doesn’t – de-schooling seems a little hard to visualize realistically.
In re-schooling, the physical space remains and the structure and processes are redone. Teachers become facilitators and learning becomes project based and student driven. The physical space of the school is reconfigured for digital learning. Technology can fundamentally disrupt the way we school children.
This kind of schooling welcomes technology based peer assessment and using of ICT to collaborate and produce work. This leads to collaboration that happens through a shared understanding and sense of inquiry within a classroom.
It is important to introduce anything new in the existing physical space of the school – any new change must be done slowly for it to not be a disruption. This means keeping the physical structure of the school intact.
The institutional push factor of the failure of current schools and the pull factor of technology combines to drive the need to redefine schooling through ICT.
Re-schooling begins when one realizes that digital technology is a part of the classwork instead of an afterthought which only happens with a deeper understanding of technology. The SAMR model talks about an intersection between how you are using ICT and how is it changing how you were doing earlier. The steps taken must be progressively better. Transformation happens through modification and redesigning, and redefinition of new tasks. This can be further adapted to suit each child’s needs. These arguments for personalized schooling have its roots in re-schooling. A good example of using tools to personalize schooling is Activity Based Learning.
In re-schooling although existing structures and processes are redone – the teacher is not eliminated. More than often what is seen is whether we are using ICT to replace teachers because the tool is efficient or whether we want to deal with the lack of efficiency of the teacher.
If in ABL – the teacher can move to a facilitator, ICT can engage the same.
Re-schooling may not be an alternative to schooling but it does lend a sense of flexibility. When the individual needs drive the learning – digital technology provides the means. With ABL, it was a form of re-schooling which just goes to show that if ABL can show results, ICT used in the same way can too. Tech based education supports informal learning as well as self-assessment. Re-schooling is more about collaboration and co – creating of knowledge in the same space as the school. So just like web 2.0 – re-schooling aims to create Schools 2.0.
Re-schooling also has roots in Augmentation which helps in enhancing past tasks and providing information on how to improve it further. But in the Indian context when schooling is not completely accessible and each child might have different first languages –when the importance should first be on schooling g- is it too soon to ask for a ‘transformation’ when it comes to SAMR?
ICT is a service that is used for the objective and not the other way around, the tail doesn’t wag the dog, technology was not designed for education and technology should not dictate education. To use any new tool in a classroom, it must have a socially grounded perspective i.e. even the ICT tools used should be personalized according to the method of instruction and the languages that the class is comfortable with. There is a need for the textbook to be in a specific language looking at the fact that an entire state follows the curriculum but with ICT being an assistive tool – it can be customized in any language possible to ensure maximum retention in the children. Andrew Churches further developed and refined Blooms Taxonomy to create Blooms Digital Taxonomy – it talks about elements such as Remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. A class can use personalized ICT to move up this taxonomy. By using the method of re-schooling – the physical structure remains the same.
It is importance to be realistic about faults and somewhat idealistic about the virtues. The expectations of any facilitator of ICT must realize that the success of the tool will always be in different degrees.
The tools we use are only assisting the teacher and do not replace the teacher. It should be used to assist the teacher in teaching and should not be something to replace the textbook with. It is important to realize that along with the use of ICT - one must provide support in the form of structure and processes. It cannot be used independently. Therefore, the presence of the physical structure in re-schooling helps.
Which is why in the Indian context – re-schooling fits the best.