According to reports, less than 50 per cent of teacher trainees in India are comfortable with word processors, graphic software, blogs, social media and mobile learning applications
The prospect of an unpredictable world driven by hi-tech innovations can be daunting for millennials. So, imagine how difficult it is for teachers who have grown up with the barest of technology solutions! The 2017–18 NCERT report on education in India says that less than 50 per cent of teacher trainees are comfortable with word processors, graphic software, blogs, social media and mobile learning applications. If this is the situation with teacher trainees, it is clear that experienced teachers are even less equipped to deal with the demands of the changing scenario in education.
Who is the 21st-century teacher?
One of the current aims of the edtech sector is to help teachers to deal with the changing standards of their role in the learning ecosystem. The Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE) has spelt out the essential teacher standards which specify seven different roles: Learner, Leader, Citizen, Collaborator, Designer, Facilitator and Analyst. These roles have been outlined to help the modern teacher use technology effectively and prepare their students for a highly advanced world.
Edtech steps for the professional development of teachers
In a nutshell, teachers have to continuously upgrade their skills, facilitate the meeting of learning goals, promote collaboration and community-building skills, and analyse teaching-learning performance, all with the help of technology. This can be achieved in the following manner:
1) By taking part in the digital age learning culture
2) By excelling in professional practice
3) By establishing an infrastructure that is conducive to technology-assisted learning.
Taking part in the digital age learning culture: The first step towards achieving this is to go in for professional development programmes on blended learning techniques and engage in building up an ethos of technology and learning.
Excelling in professional practice: Excellence in new-age teaching practices can only be attained by implementing them in the day-to-day classroom scenario. For instance, technology-assisted learning techniques such as flipped learning can yield good results if teachers set the practice of classroom discussion based on prior readings, instead of traditional one-way lectures.
Establishing an infrastructure conducive to technology-assisted learning: The school administrator’s role is imperative in ensuring the right kind of technological infrastructure that can be put to optimum use by teachers to inculcate appropriate skills in students.
Edtech programmes for teachers
A teacher’s abilities are at the heart of revolutionising education with technology. The edtech sector is coming up with various ways of developing teachers’ capabilities in implementing technologies in classroom programmes and massive open online courses (MOOCs). These provide answers to the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of implementing technology in the classroom that is the functionality of technology and the use of technology to meet specific pedagogical goals.
Further, online communities are also being created where teachers can interact and collaborate with their peers and experts in the field to gain more knowledge on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for pedagogy building. Such communities not only help teachers share their views and gain feedback but also allow them to learn from the experiences of their peers.
National efforts on mitigating skill gaps in teachers
The Digital India scheme was launched by the Government of India with the aim of bringing digital infrastructure to every nook and corner of the country. The government intends to build one lakh digital villages with internet connections and digital devices in the next few years so that the education sector is especially benefited from this.
According to the new National Education Policy drafted earlier this year, the Government of India intends to bring teacher training to the forefront of developmental concerns in the education sector. There has been a lot of emphasis on upskilling of teachers via tech-integrated training programmes, regular refresher courses, workshops and fellowship programmes. A huge repository of e-learning material for professional development, with subject-level pedagogical instructions, is available on SWAYAM, a free online platform initiated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Premier institutes of India such as IIT Bombay and IIT Kanpur have developed MOOCs to help teachers improve their IT skills and integrate technology with day-to-day pedagogy. EdTech companies in the private sector are also coordinating with these bodies to provide teacher-upskilling programmes. Hopefully, such programmes can fulfil the vision of the successful use of ICT in schools.
This article is written by Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO & Co-Founder, Next Education.