Classes in the digital age
The children have a completely different understanding of digitalisation and we must adapt to that, we have to modernize the teaching process
Geography teacher, Mahir Mališević, uses geographic information systems (GIS), available applications and online tools in his classes that allow him to bring old maps to life. He has to be resourceful in order to make his classes as interesting as possible. He exhibited his work at the presentation of good practices in digital education at the Conference “Call to Action to ReImagine Education!”, and the participants were thrilled when he presented his augmented reality sandbox.
“Boxes like this one are used in classrooms abroad, and I’ve made this one using my own funds. I’ve put it together using a projector I bought at a market, which I’ve hooked to lawnmower handles and connected to a computer with the right app. It’s a very useful tool in geography classes, offering enormous possibilities, and the students find it interesting and enjoy using it and visualizing everything that they can see on a map. The information they absorb in this way and through other applications remain as permanent and functional knowledge”, Mahir explained.
Plane quartz sand in a box was transformed into a living map in an instant, and moving the sand changed the colours in the terrains, hills, valleys or bodies of water, and the audience gathered around the box, waiting for their turn to change the terrain, create a lake, sea or a river.
“Our school is in a small town, and I try in every way to boost our children’s confidence, to introduce as many tools and innovations as possible in order to prepare them for secondary schools in bigger towns that most of them will go to. Using the available digital tools is inevitable, because today we have a generation that has a different understanding of digitalisation and we have to adapt to them”, he said in his presentation, underlining the need to modernise the teaching process:
“The children have to know the basics, of course; however, today we are teaching them about compasses and maps but have any of you, coming from other towns, reached this hall today using a compass and a map or did you use Google Maps? Not only are we not teaching the kids about the future, we’re not even teaching them the present. Unfortunately, we spend most of the time teaching them about the past, and this has to change. The kids should know what a compass and a map are, and what they are used for, but they also have to know about Google Maps, GoogleEarth, AccuWeather”, he said, adding that most of the useful applications are free of charge and easily available:
“Unfortunately, the teachers are often not familiar with these applications themselves, and many of them lack the basic resources or have poor internet connection at school. However, there are many instances where you can achieve a lot using little equipment. The kids have mobile phones in their hands, and there are teams of experts on one hand who are working hard to come up with as much content as possible to keep them engaged, and on the other we have the teacher who comes to the class barehanded with the task of getting their attention and getting them interested in a lesson”.
Language and literature class led by Nermina Alihodžić from the Tenth elementary school in Ilidža was also interesting and dynamic, as well as informatics class led by Anes Hadžiomerović from the Second Gymnasium from Mostar.
Professor Alihodžić presented a summary of several online language and literature classes focusing on group work. In the form of a mini-competition – concentration game in wordwall.net, the attendees were given the opportunity to develop teaching materials such as quizzes and games in a simple way, and also play two games in groups – match-up and puzzle.
„By using the digital tools that were presented here we can achieve many of the learning outcomes such as encourage critical thinking in students. In all of this, we have to bear in mind the magic phrase, which is “the right amount”. We must never use a tool for tool’s sake but we must use the tools to motivate the students and encourage their critical thinking and problem solving in everyday life”, said professor Alihodžić, who also used her class to introduce the interactive blackboard padlet.com, as well as the reading and understanding of a literary text using YouTube video. Split into groups, the participants made sketches of several scenes from the presented literary text and transposed it later on into an online platform storyjumper.com – to create a digital picture book. All the interactive exercises presented in this workshop were also made available for download using QR codes.
At the beginning of the informatics class, and as an intro to robotics, Anes Hadžiomerović presented weather CubeSet nanosatellite which, with four different robots, won the first place for BiH team at the international robotics competition FGC 2021. Presentation of an Arduino set was especially interesting, and the participants had the opportunity to learn and have fun in an exercise to develop and program a traffic lights simulator.
„In order to successfully build robots, children should have the knowledge in several STEM areas, and Arduino is an excellent foundation for working with other robotic components. I’m very happy with the interest that the students have shown at today’s presentation. I hope this is a new step towards modernizing curricula in the education systems“, said Anes, whose satisfaction was shared by other participants:
„This is my first encounter with this set, I’ve never had this kind of an informatics class before. If I had had this kind of elementary and secondary education, I’m sure my career choices would’ve been different“, stated Gorana Knežević from the Agency for Statistics of BiH after attending the informatics class.
On 30 November and 1 December 2022, Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH, UNICEF and UNESCO in Bosnia and Herzegovina organized a conference in Sarajevo “Call to Action to ReImagine education! - Partnerships for Assuring Quality Digital Learning for All”, which gathered over 100 participants from the fields of education, technology and telecommunications.