GEMS Legacy School (formerly known as The Kindergarten starters) has been digital since Ms. Asha Alexander took over as its Principal 11 years ago (2011). She is also the Executive Leader - Climate Change, at the school. As such going digital was a no brainer for her.
She explained, “When I took over the school 11 years ago, it was a traditional school and I wanted to shift to digital learning and change the way the children at our school learnt, so I took away the text books as a strategy to allow children and teachers to explore learning beyond what the textbooks had to offer.”
According to Alexander, digital learning meant changing the mindsets of teachers, parents and children. It is now the only Indian curriculum school without text books. Everything is digital. As parents and teachers bought into digital learning, the transition to online learning during the pandemic was seamless for GEMS Legacy teachers and students since they were already learning digitally.
GEMS Legacy is doing the same with Robotics now. Robotic literacy is of great importance not just to Ms. Alexander but to her staff and students. She added, “Robotic literacy is not being recognised by educators these days but it should be. Robotics is not just about teaching it separately. It should be an integral part of their learning at all levels because when these kids finish school, robots will be everywhere, in all industries and in all aspects. Our duty as educators is to equip our students with the skills that will enable them to meaningfully contribute to problem solving and logic in their future. Our students don’t just have robots in one class because we think they should start early - kids learn as they grow.”
GEMS Legacy strives to have robots (including several Nao from Softbank Robotics, represented in the Middle East by Jacky’s Business Solutions) at all levels. The school has encouraged and created coding and scratch learning around robotics and drones as part of their curriculum. The older students learn to code and program these robots and use them to teach the younger students. This makes it easier for them to learn as well as creates better engagement between teachers and students no matter what the lesson. It also teaches students logical and computational thinking.
As a school catering to the mid-market segment, the management has to prioritise its budgets and spending but Alexander, with the buy in from her management, prioritises technologies like AI, robotics and drones as a key investment for her teachers and students. “We need at least one robot for each class so that the kids develop problem solving abilities and critical thinking is introduced. AI and robotics is the future so we need to prioritise this now,” she added.
GEMS has an AI curriculum and are using the technologies that are age appropriate and recommended by the school’s technical team for each Grade. They also work with teachers and the vendors to ensure that they stay abreast with the latest technology tools to ensure they (the teachers) understand the usefulness of the robots and technology before leveraging them as part of their lessons to students.
Alexander concluded, “I hope to see more the schools and educators prioritise technology and give these students the skills and knowledge at the right time, to prepare them for the future.”