During 2012-2013, IT for Change's work in education had three focus areas – (1) intensive work with teacher communities in small geographies through 'Kalike-ICT integration in high schools' project, Yadgir, and 'Teachers Communities of Learning' project, Bangalore; and (2) extensive work with the Karnataka public education system through the 'Subject Teacher Forum' and the 'Karnataka Open Educational Resources'(KOER) projects; and (3) informing policy and discourse with the learnings from the first two.
We also advised United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on 'Information Communication Technology (ICT) integration for e Learning, Distance Learning and Knowledge Sharing', as a part of helping them in developing the e-governance part of their programming period of 2013-18. Advocacy for public software was an integral part of all our work and we worked with the education community to advocate with the Rajasthan Governments on its laptop distribution scheme as well as with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) on their adoption of proprietary software in their programmes, apart from organising workshops to build capacities of academic institutions and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to adopt and integrate public software in their work.
- 1 Working with Schools
- 2 Working with the public school system
- 3 Rethinking ICT in Education
- 4 Promoting Public Software in Society
Working with Schools
Towards building a rigorous understanding of how ICTs can support teacher professional development, we are working on two projects in schools; the “Teachers Communities of Learning” (TCOL) in South 3 block in Bangalore Urban district and the Kalike programme in Yadgir block. These projects enable us to bring in our research and theoretical perspectives into interactions with teachers in schools. The nature of engagement is quite intensive and regular and allows us to evolve practical strategies to support the integration of ICTs into education.
Our project in Yadgir, which aims at working on ICT integration in teacher professional development, classroom processes and education leadership and management in all high schools of Yadgir block, is a part of the Kalike programme, (initiated by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust), which in turn aims at promoting holistic development in one of the most socio-economically backward blocks of Karnataka, through interventions in multiple areas including early child care, education, health and sanitation.
Our project began during 2012-13, and our first task was to ensure that the ICT labs in the high schools (provided by the Government of Karnataka under the ICT@Schools Phase 1 and Phase 2 programmes) functional; most schools house dysfunctional labs with defective computers and internet due to hardware failure, non-payment of phone and electricity bills or non-availability of vendor faculty. Through regular visits to the schools to maintain ICT lab infrastructure and build teachers' capacities for basic maintenance, most labs (16 of 18 schools) have been revived. Though teachers are yet to use it extensively for subject teaching, they use it for administrative as well as academic purposes.
The access to ICT Infrastructure is critical to enable teachers to visualise it as a part of their pedagogical repertoire. To supplement the school labs, Kalike set-up an ICT lab in its premises, enabling hundreds of teachers and students to gain access over the year. During their vacations, students made intensive use of the facilities. This is a 'mobile lab' consisting of light weight netbooks and a wireless router, and it has moved to other locations to provide local ICT access as well.
Secondly we worked with mathematics, science, social science and english teachers through workshops, to build their capacities to understand and use ICTs for their subject learning. We supplemented this with visits to schools, to observe classrooms and help teachers use computers for subject related activities including use of subject based software applications, videos etc. We also conducted basic ICT Literacy workshops for the Yadgir Block, Cluster Resource Centre teams and Head Masters of schools.
During 2013-14, we hope to continue to engage with all stakeholders in the process of ICT engagement, reaching out to headmasters, resource persons in the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) and Block Resource Centre (BRC). We will also continue the capacity building of the Kalike team members to help them integrate ICTs (such as making short videos) into the different components. Working on school pedagogical leadership to strengthen institutional identities, and with teachers on subject-based integration is planned with select schools, while the overall ICT Lab support and subject-based workshops for teachers would continue for all high schools. We will also plan a Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping project of all schools (and other public infrastructure such as health centres, anganwadis etc) in the district and publish on OpenStreetMaps (a map website which is a public resource like Wikipedia). The digital map of infrastructure, along with metadata on qualitative parameters would help both government and non-governmental agencies to plan as well as monitor programmes. It will also feed into the district human development index (HDI) report that Kalike is helping the Yadgir district administration prepare. We will also develop a school wiki page for all schools to enable schools to share information about their work and plans.
Teachers Communities of Learning (TCoL)
We have been working on a similar intensive programme in select schools in Bangalore Urban district in the South 3 block, called 'Teachers Communities of Learning (TCoL)' with the support of Cognizant Foundation. TCoL aims at supporting teacher professional development by exposing teachers to a variety of digital methods and processes, helping them build their skills in integrating ICTs for their professional development. In few of these schools, we were also able to provide (de-bonded) computers from Cognizant, which increased the access of teachers to ICT infrastructure in their own school spaces. Urban government schools can be more challenging for teachers, since the students usually come from severely marginalised socio-economic backgrounds, and get little or no support from home/parents for their education (rural schools tend to be more heterogeneous and this provides both better peer support possibilities amongst children and greater accountability pressures from parents on teachers). Here teacher professional development processes that build teachers' teaching abilities by enabling them to access a variety of digital processes and tools, can be very useful.
In line with the scope of the project, our work this year has included sustaining ICT infrastructure readiness in the schools, training teachers - through regular workshops as well as school based interactions - in the use of educational tools and their integration into the classroom and encouraging teachers to create digital learning resources that will aid them and, when shared, other teachers in classroom teaching. We also helped the teachers teach the National Vocational Educational Qualification Framework (NVEQF) programme on basic ICT vocational skills to class IX students. There were 'teacher-leaders' in three of these schools, who were able to provide inputs to their colleagues across the state of Karnataka through the peer learning networks within the government school system. Two of them, Radha Narve from GHS Begur and Rajesh YN from GHS Mallupura participated in the annual 'National ICT Awards for Teachers' competition, held by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Only two teacher nominations can be forwarded by each state, and only nine teachers were given the National ICT award for 2012-13, and both Radha and Rajesh were in this small group.Their exemplary work in integrating ICTs into teacher and school education was much appreciated by NCERT. The plan for 2013-14 is to extend the work to cover all high schools in South 3 block, to create a block level forum for teachers to learn and share together.
Working with the public school system
Along with intensive work in select schools in defined geographies, we have also been working with the Karnataka public school system on a systemic teacher professional development programme. The maximum investment on 'adult learning' in India, is made through the teacher education programmes of Government of India and the State governments that runs into a few thousand crores every year through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan (RMSA) as well as state budgets. However, a significant part of this training does not conform to adult learning principles and teacher development possibilities and hence its effectiveness tends to be limited. The National framework for teacher education, an inspiring document on teacher education, discusses the need for teacher education programmes that provide spaces for self-paced, need-based and self-determined learning and at the same time facilitate peer learning / mentoring / collaborative learning. The development of 'professional learning communities of teachers' is seen as a cutting-edge approach towards such teacher education. We began working on this approach through the 'Teachers Community of Learning' (TCoL) project in 2010-11 in Bangalore, which continued through the 'Subject Teacher Forum' (STF), a state level programme in collaboration with RMSA and Department of State Educational Research and Training, Karnataka (DSERT).
In this programme, we have conducted workshops and provided support through virtual forums,to build teachers capacities to integrate ICT into their professional development. This has had two overlapping parts
- Enabling teachers to participate in curricular resource creation through the Karnataka open educational resources project
- Enabling teachers to interact for peer learning and sharing through the virtual forums including e-lists as well as the Karnataka Education web portal.
Subject Teacher Forum (STF)
To achieve the vision of National Curriculum Framework (NCF), there is a need to facilitate teacher professional development using constructivist approaches and peer learning. The training would need to be a self directed process emphasising on collaborative learning, moving from a model where the onus of the training rests completely with the teacher educator. The peer learning model would also reduce the isolation of individual teachers and provide scope for individual and collective reflection. When teachers undergo such training experiences, they reflect more and this would also carry into the classrooms. Integrating ICTs into the training programme provided the possibility of a continuous learning programme.
The STF snapshot in 2012-13
Resource persons trained -> 256
The STF programme was designed by IT for Change in collaboration with the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan (RMSA) to leverage ICTs to build teacher professional networks that are expected to provide insights to evolve into a new model of teacher education that is self-directed, self paced, peer-based and mentored, and provides possibilities for life-long learning. Besides supporting the inclusion of ICTs into the curriculum and syllabus, the objective of the STF programme was to build a forum for practising teachers to discuss issues of teaching-learning and to generate and discuss ideas for their professional development. The programme began in 2011-12 and in 2012-13 covered the entire state of Karnataka across 30 districts.
1. Trained in several public software platforms and applications, the STF-trained teachers are better prepared to integrate ICTs into the classroom and are able to explore constructivist teaching-learning processes. Teachers are also contacting one another through the virtual email forum and sharing resources. Over 13,000 emails have been shared on the STF email groups. Over 30 resource topics have been developed and updated on the wiki and 1200 files have been added to the resource website. Teachers use this forum to conduct subject based discussions as well as larger issues of education.
“We (knowledge lab of Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR) did workshops on 'Free Software for Education' at several parts of the country. One such workshop which was in Bangalore in March 2010 was the most successful one, our lab conducted anywhere in the country. The reason: there were four participants from IT for Change. They not only took the message and the medium seriously, they localized the message and conducted several workshops in Karnataka. Apart from taking free software to schools in Karnataka, IT for Change played a very important role in shaping ICT policies within the country. Their leadership continues to send alerts to the free software community to take part actively in those campaigns.”
2. An increasing familiarity and culture of use and inclusion of ICTs is creating an enabling environment for teachers and schools to adopt ICTs and integrate the same with their professional activities. The institutions at the state and district levels also have become much interested and pro-active in engaging with ICT. Efforts to mainstream the ICT infrastructure in schools will provide teachers opportunities to interact with technology more regularly.
3. The curriculum design for the STF programme has gone beyond the mere introduction of computer literacy and has led to a critical examination of the learning processes that get impacted because of the availability of ICTs. The programme impact has influenced policy changes to the pre-service teachers' curriculum to include ICT in teaching learning. IT for Change has been able to contribute several insights from this programmatic effort towards the development of the National ICT curriculum, developed and released by the NCERT.
4. The STF has been an important exercise in building the identity of the teacher as a professional and in restoring the agency of the teacher. Teachers who have long been used to the top-down method of communication have now found a forum where they can collaborate and share teaching practices and express concerns about methods of teaching learning, the burdens of an over-ambitious syllabus, educational infrastructure etc. Exercising this participation, however, is a learned skill and the forum is still in its infancy with respect to the possible role it can assume while engaging with the educational administration and leadership. The journey of collectivising teachers to build a professional community that can reflect and respond to the changing society is the vision of the STF.
5. Extending the idea of ICT integration in teacher education to include teacher educators, in Karnataka, the State has adopted a plan for restructuring District Institute of Education and Training DIETs to focus them more as institutions for teacher development. Many DIETs are devising plans to formulate courses and modules for teacher professional development that will contribute to increased resource creation as well as building linkages within the system, for instance between teachers and teacher educators. This linkage is an important component of the STF.
- While there have been several elements of success about the STF programme, some challenges remain. Infrastructure availability remains a constraint for many teachers and schools especially those in small towns and rural areas. Most teachers who contribute to the forum access the mails through mobile phones and this limits the nature of their interaction significantly. Time availability for teachers is a major constraint. Teachers are often tasked with multiple responsibilities and teachers in rural areas also have to travel a significant amount on a daily basis. This combined with lack of school infrastructure does limit participation.
- In the government system, continuity of programmes can be affected by changes in leadership. Ensuring continuity of such support and ownership will be a challenge. The academic support system which is actually supposed to do many of the training activities proposed, is burdened with too many administrative responsibilities. The pre-digital processes in these systems also makes simple information processing/sharing a huge task. This limits the participation possibilities of teacher educators in academic activities.
From our experience, we find that significant initial effort does need to be invested in ICT Literacy (this is not only the skills of using tools, but a larger socio-political understanding of how ICTs/Internet is transforming society and the positive and negative fallouts of this process). However such ICT literacy processes do need to link deeply to the priorities of the learners. In case of teachers, 'computer aided learning' that is integrating ICTs into subject teaching learning has been a key process of ICT skill building that has helped teachers to understand that ICTs can be quite powerful methods for their learning and a computer is more than a sophisticated typewriter. Trained in several public software platforms and applications, the STF-trained teachers are better prepared to integrate ICTs into the classroom and are able to realise more constructive teaching-learning processes. More than 500 teachers have purchased own laptops since the programme began and this we feel is a good testimony to their understanding of its value to their learning.
Working with Teacher Educators
We also continued our work with teacher-educators in Karnataka, participating in workshops for training DIET faculty on becoming master resource persons who would train their colleagues transacting the new DEd. Curriculum in the state. We created a mailing group for these participants to share resources and experiences. We will also be conducting workshops during 2013-14 for DIETs and College of Teacher Education (CTE) faculty to build a community of teacher educators willing to explore ICTs for continued learning in a model similar to the STF.
We also participated in a workshop for faculty from DIETs in six states from North India that was organised by DEP-SSA with support from CEMCA and created a virtual platform for teacher-educators across the country to interact to build community of practice. We will design and conduct workshops for DIET/CTE faculty to strengthen the community, on the lines of the STF. We also plan to invite faculty members from other South Indian states to these workshops.
Karnataka Open Educational Resources (KOER)
To sustain the continuous learning programme seeded by the STF, there is a need to create a resource rich learning environment by supporting teachers to access the Internet as a normal learning process. This would involve building teachers' capacities for resource creation, enabling constructivist approaches. The resource creation will include sharing/collaborating on a continuous basis for peer review, feedback, piloting in the classrooms thus contributing to resource enrichment. Digital methods of resource creation make them easy to share, review, publish. Making teachers part of the resource creation process would make it local and contextual. This will also result in a sustainable model , when the resource access-creation-review-refine-publish processes become mature. Thus the KOER has become embedded as a collaborative open educational resource creation project within the community of the STF and it was the focus of the education work for the year 2012-13.
“Open Educational Resources (OER) is a global movement to provide quality learning resources at very low costs to teachers and learners. In Karnataka, IT for Change, is working with us on a OER model, in which our teachers and teacher educators would participate to create, review and share OERs through the KOER project. The participatory approach of KOER aims to support teacher development, apart from resource creation. I wish IT for Change success in their pioneering efforts.”
The core principles of KOER are participation, contextualisation, availability of open educational resources and reclaiming the agency of the teacher in curricular processes. This is an ambitious programme for the collaborative creation, by Government School teachers of curricular resources in maths, science and social science subjects (for class IX, in which new text books have been introduced during 12-13) in Kannada and English. The KOER uses a wiki to support collaborative creation, editing and publishing to build a resource rich environment with this repository. Our aim is eventually to have KOER support teachers across all grades and subjects (in multiple languages taught in the state).
The methodology – of getting the teachers to collaborate in its design, development, review and finalisation a pioneering one. However, we feel that this model is also one that has the possibility of being a scalable and sustainable model. Using Internet to provide peer review ('crowd sourcing') can create a sustainable network of access-create-review-revise-finalize-publish-access cycle which could make this model sustain. Thus the STF community can sustain the KOER resource project, conversely, a meaningful activity as resource creation through the KOER could sustain the STF. Thus in our work, we are aiming to see how teacher-education and curricular resource design and development can operate as two sides of the same coin.
We will also plan a programme similar to STF with Head Teachers of high schools to create 'Head Teachers Forum' (HTF). An STF cell is also being planned for monitoring and implementation of the programme, which will over time support the subject forums. We thus work closely with the education department in these projects so that they are clearly seen as the in-house systemic efforts with NGO support, this is essential from a scaling and sustaining possibilities.
Another significant component of systemic work would be to include our ideas/resources into the regular curriculum of schools and we have been working on the following projects relating to curriculum design and development during the year
Rethinking ICT in Education
The implications of ICTs in education can be studied under three broad strands:
- Changes in the way information can be accessed, stored, processed and shared and consequent implications for learning spaces
- Development of skills needed for learning and processing information
- Building of new skills for navigating the ICT architecture.
The integration of ICTs into teaching-learning processes must take into account these educational processes. Education in the context of ICT infusion possibilities thus has to move away from content delivery to building of skills that will allow meaningful participation. Some of the skills that have become important in this context are analysing and abstracting, evaluating, problem solving, collaboration and creation, self and peer learning and connecting with each other and creation of the public.
“The increasing use of ICTs in education and other areas has led to commercialisation. ITfC has been at the fore-front of digging up information and making it available to those who need it, and even those who are not aware they needed it. Their sense of zeal, purpose and perseverance, though it may appear to be too idealistic at times, makes them be heard and prevent large social sector projects from unconscious slipping into unfair arrangements. ITfC has also worked towards building constructive alternatives in integrating ICTs into Teacher Education.”
To address this changing need in education system, it is important to recognise that ICT is not an instrumentality to deliver the given syllabus in a more effective manner (a paradigm that has traditionally been referred to as Computer Aided Learning). While the ICT focus in many programmes has recognised the need to move from computer literacy to Computer Aided Learning (CAL), the canvas of the curriculum must expand to reflect the transformatory nature of ICTs in the design of learning spaces and the creation of knowledge spaces. The focus, therefore, is not on learning specific applications to teach specific content and accomplish tasks; rather it is on building attitudes and skills that learners can use to navigate the changing information architecture and make meaningful decisions. The scope of ICT in education must further affirmatively move towards building more inclusive spaces and allowing for representation of multiple knowledge systems and multiple representations of knowledge.
During 2012-13, there have been significant curricular and policy developments in the ICT and Education scene. IT for Change has been part of and contributed significantly to all of these developments at the state and the national level.We participated in various committees and groups involved in curriculum design and development to integrate ICTs into teacher education, including in the DEd. Curriculum revision of DSERT, Karnataka, ICT in Education curriculum of NCERT, TISS Hyderabad MA Education programme, and the National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) of NCERT.
Teacher Education under 12 Plan
IT for Change participated in the MHRD committee for the 12 plan for teacher education and contributed to the guidelines document that this committe prepared, specifically in the chapter on ICT integration into teacher education. This chapter explores various ways in which teachers and teacher educators can use ICTs for their own professional development and draws from our work with the schools and teacher education institutions in Karnataka over the last few years.
IT for Change also participated in the group set-up by Department of State Educational Research and Training, Karnataka (DSERT) to implement the 12 plan guidelines and prepare the Karnataka perspective plan as well as annual work plan for 2012-13 for all the Teachers Education (TE) institutions in the state. This included facilitating workshops for DIET and CTE faculty members as well as supporting them in preparing the TE plans for their institutions.A key recommendation of the guidelines is to restructure the DIETs from the traditional 'seven wings' which do not have direct linkages with curricular areas, to subject/discipline based departments. Thus Karnataka is one of the few states to design new structure for the DIETs to have departments such as -
- Department of humanities and Geography
- Department of Maths, physical and biological sciences
- Department of Languages : Kannada, English
- Department of Education
- Department of Educational Leadership and Management
- Department of Assessment
- PSTE (College / Department of - Elementary Education Foundation Course)
Each institution also has created 1-2 'local departments' based on context/need/priority, such as the Malnad culture in Education & Folklore (Chikmagalur) or the Department of Gender Studies (Yadgir) or Department of Urban Studies (Bangalore Urban).
National ICT Policy and the ICT curriculum
"Advocacy in present days has to go beyond journalistic passions, which tend to have extremely short engagements. Be it policy debates or public stances, communicating to the public, engaging with them and creating opportunities for their participation will go a long way in ensuring, public good is adequately highlighted and promoted. The work of IT for Change has been in this genre. Their ability to take up issues and generate public opinion will stand them in good stead. In particular their campaign for free and open source software, open standards in electronic communication has found many an admirer and stirred many a silent spectator to join hands in the movement towards equitable sharing of knowledge and expertise. It would also prove to be a significant investment of effort in creating an inclusive society. I wish them even more perseverance, endurance and success in their initiatives."
The National ICT Policy was approved by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) in June 2012 and the NCERT went into the development of an ICT curriculum to move towards the objectives of the Policy document. The objectives of the curriculum are to bring to the education system an exposure to the state of the art technologies and creating capacities to interact and experiment with them, productively, safely and creatively. The focus of the entire curriculum is on learning processes and skills rather than focusing on computer literacy alone. The framework has proposed six core themes through which the curriculum can be transacted. These themes have been developed based on the various possibilities provided by ICTs and the skills needed for realizing these possibilities; they are further built in increasing layers of complexity in terms of basic, intermediate and advanced. IT for Change has been part of the core committee that drafted this curriculum that was released in August 2013 in a National ICT conference.
DSERT D.Ed. curriculum revision programme
IT for Change was part of the committee that revised the D.Ed curriculum in the state and specifically contributed towards a course on ICT mediation in teaching learning for Pre-Service Teacher Education (PSTE). Besides developing ICT capabilities of student teachers, the curriculum also integrated ICTs into teaching learning for subject areas. The possibilities of ICT in moving towards inclusive education have also been covered in this revised curriculum. The curriculum has been approved by the State and will be offered as part of the new teacher training programme in the current academic year. IT for Change also conducted ICT capacity building workshops for the PSTE faculty who would be transacting the new curriculum and established a e-list for the academic interactions of faculty from TE institutions in the state.
Advising development agencies on integrating ICTs into learning
UNDP contracted IT for Change for assistance in developing the e-governance part of their programming period of 2013-18. Our note provided suggestions on how ICTs could support learning models and processes that would support the three areas of Decentralised Governance, Accountability and Transparency and Implementing Rights Based programmes and Access to Entitlements, within the Democratic Governance outcome area. The note explored ICT models of learning that would be relevant to two groups. whose contexts, form a subset of the overall governance function in a state:
1. Political and permanent bureaucracy (elected representatives and officials working on the line departments and Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (RDPR) departments, who can be said to represent the 'supply' side of governance services, at state, district, block and village levels.
2. Local communities who can be said to represent the 'demand' side of governance services, along with their elected representatives at the local government level.
Promoting Public Software in Society
The role of ICTs in the increasingly digital knowledge society cannot be over-emphasised and this is even more pronounced in technical education. The technical education segment of higher education is faced with acute infrastructure constraints, dependence on high cost proprietary software for the various curriculum requirements. The widespread availability and use of public software educational tools in technical education can be a powerful enabler for better learning options for both faculty and students. To bring an awareness of the possibilities of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) applications for educational institutions, a seminar on 'Public Software in Technical Education - Opportunities and Challenges' was organised by IT for Change, in collaboration with the Directorate of Technical Education and supported by MHRD (Government of India) under the 'Spoken Tutorial' project of National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT).
IT for Change also continued to support colleges and other NGOs in the adoption of Public Software through seminars, workshops and hands-on support after adoption of public software. During the year, we conducted workshops and provided support to the educational institutions like Deenabandhu (Chamarajanagar), Abhas India (Delhi) and Valley School, (Bangalore) and NGOs including Seva-in-action, (Bangalore), and Child Rights Trust,(Bangalore) to adopt public software for a variety of their work needs.
IT for Change also worked with the educationists across the country to advocate with state governments and public institutions on adoption of public software in education, including with:
- Assam Education department on its MOU with Microsoft, to setup an 'academy' that would promote the private interests of the vendor by training teachers on its proprietary software. The letter suggested alternatives that would promote public interest as well as educational aims of teacher empowerment and curricular resource development through use of public software
- Rajasthan Government on its laptop distribution scheme - The letter cautioned both against the scheme of mass distribution of laptops to students without investing in teacher capacities to use ICTs as well as in providing them access to devices, as well as the adoption of proprietary software. Many governments are planning to mass distribute laptops and tablets to students and such programmes are unlikely to have any meaningful learning outcomes, without adequate preparation of teachers. Access to the Internet without any mediation by the teacher can even have undesirable impact.
- AICTE on its letter mandating that all technical institutions procure Office 365, the proprietary offering of Microsoft. After the campaign, AICTE withdrew the mandatory requirement in its circular.
- Justice Verma Commission on Teacher Education - IT for Change made a submission, on the benefits of investing in ICTs for Teacher development and the need to promote public agencies in this process rather than privatise curriculum and pedagogical processes using ICTs.