Technology has proven to be a catalyst for change in almost every industry in the last decade. In the Indian landscape, technology has provided ample opportunities for redefining how teacher training takes place in schools. Traditionally, learning for educators has been restricted to pre-service training that happens predominantly in formal educational setups. However, with the constant upgrading of content and pedagogical methods, it has become imperative for teachers to invest in in-service training as well. The National Education Policy identifies this as a priority too in its latest iteration.
Furthermore, NEP identifies the need for integration of technology in disseminating these learning experiences to educators. It also acknowledges the possibility of creating multi-disciplinary and interactive learning opportunities with the use of technology. To add to these benefits, one must also consider the importance of technology in the lives of the students. As we continue to empower learners who will be embedded in a fiercely technology-driven world, educators will also have to upskill themselves in using it in order to build fluency and transferability.
Using technology as an aide to deliver training aims to address the problems of accessibility, scalability and affordability. Content can be curated online and hosted on sites or learning management systems which are made accessible to teachers. If the teacher has access to an internet powered device, they can easily access training online from the comfort of their homes in any part of the country. In fact, the percolation of the internet has made it possible for us to avail professional training from around the world at the click of a button.
Considering that content has become widely available, lesser investment of academic and infrastructural resources can cast a wide net thus making teacher training initiatives scalable and cost effective. One such initiative by the government, DIKSHA, is aiming to train over 10 million teachers of India through a simple strategy – hosting content online.
Apart from making content available on the world wide web, technology can be leveraged in a multitude of ways for improving effectiveness in teacher training.
1) Access to Quality Resources and Expertise:
Instead of creating resources and hiring experts, schools can work towards gathering data on what are the needs of the teachers and the demands of the classroom. Based on the information, schools can identify priorities or goals for professional development that cater to their population.
Technology has opened up the access to a wealth of quality resources and expertise from across the globe. Online platforms, webinars, and educational websites enable educators to connect with fellow professionals, engage in discussions, and access a diverse range of teaching materials. Schools could work towards connecting their educators to such resources and follow it up with reflective conversations on contextualising the learning to their geographies.
2) Customised Learning and Flexibility
The vastness and diversity of India’s education system demand personalised and flexible PD opportunities. Schools can work towards creating digital workshops with the help of screen recorder tools. This will enable teachers to engage in self-paced learning. Additionally, schools can identify other external webinars, and virtual workshops that can suit the unique needs and interests of every educator, thus breaking away from the one size fits all mindset.
Every year, schools see an influx of new teachers who need foundational professional development. Meanwhile the more experienced teachers need something more specific to their challenges. Technology can allow for data-driven recommendations, suggesting PD resources and activities based on individual teacher profiles and professional goals. Schools can work towards creating a professional learning pathway which provides educators with a scope and sequence of learning. Online courses, webinars and internal training could be mapped to this pathway thus providing teachers with the opportunity to be self-directed in their learning.
3) Maximised Engagement
Leveraging technology and digital tools can significantly enhance engagement during teacher training programs. By incorporating digital tools effectively, trainers can create interactive and immersive experiences for adult learners.
Digital tools provide trainers with the ability to create interactive multimedia presentations and simulations. Platforms such as quizziz, kahoot and mentimeter allow for real time assessment of mastery on concepts in a quick manner while enabling the workshop presenter to identify misconceptions in order to course correct. Other interactive tools such as whiteboards, jamboard and padlet allow facilitators to engage participants in collaborative work which helps make learning visible effectively. These tools also allow for amplification of practices and strategies building a peer-to-peer learning network. Trainers can create online communities where teachers can exchange thoughts, ask questions, and share experiences. Through these platforms, trainers can also assign group projects, initiate debates, and facilitate peer feedback, promoting active participation and collective learning.
Furthermore, through multimedia presentations, trainers can demonstrate teaching techniques, showcase best practices, and engage teachers in reflective discussions. By integrating interactive multimedia and simulations, trainers can create dynamic and experiential learning opportunities that boost engagement and facilitate deeper understanding.
In teacher professional development, technology helps expand the reach of teachers to high quality learning. It pushes the onus of seeking out solutions to challenges in the classroom on the teacher. Most importantly, it reduces the pressure on schools to be the sole provider of learning. Technology connects educators to experts outside of the school, builds bridges between peers and gives them the freedom to direct their learning at a pace which is suitable for them.
(The author is Smriti Parikh, Head of Literacy, The Acres Foundation, and the views expressed in this article are his own)