India Formulating a National Policy on ICT in School Education
November 2008

India Formulating a National Policy on ICT in School Education

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The critical factor in the successful integration of ICT into teacher education is the extent to which the teacher educators have the knowledge and skills in ICT integration. A well-conceived and sustained programme of professional development is, therefore, required, to enable the teacher educators and master teachers to develop these skills. This May require development and revision of existing teacher training curriculum guidelines for pre-service and in-service teachers. This brings to the front some of the very pertinent questions like-

  • What are the methods of skilling and re-skilling educators to adapt and to adopt to the changing faces of technology?
  • How can educators be guided on effective use of these new tools that focus on learning activities, rather than content delivery or general learner management?
  • How to build buy-in and ownership among educators and motivate them to spearhead the ICT-based education process?

In order to find out appropriate answers on these above questions which can be suggested for the formulation of the Indian National Policy on ICT in School Education, Global eSchools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI) alongwith Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS) as a core facilitating partner organised a national level Round Table discussion and consultation on Capacity Building of Schools and Teachers in ICT under the aegis of Ministry of HRD, Government of India, in New Delhi on September 30, 2008.

Digital Learning Team of CSDMS captures the proceedings, discussions, and recommendations of the capacity building session of schools and teachers in ICT…

The discussions in the Round Table revolved around the questions mentioned above where the participants exchanged their views and expert comments and tried to reach at compiling some guidelines and recommendation points for the purpose of drafting the ICT policy in school education.

Shri Arun Kumar Rath, Secretary, Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and delivered a key note address to the August audience. He suggested to address a broader set of issues related to teachers' recruitment and training in a time bound manner.

Shri. S.C. Khuntia, Joint Secretary, Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development and Mr. Jyrki Pulkkinen, Executive Director, Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI) were among the distinguished guests and speakers. Shri Rath and Shri Khuntia presented the perspectives, challenges and measures taken by the Government on ICT integration in education in the country. Shri Khuntia expected that the forthcoming policy on ICT in school education will address various issues related to capacity building adequately. He felt, with enhanced use of ICTs, school education will make a paradigm shift.

Prof. Mohd. Akhtar Siddiqui, Chairman, National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), moderated the discussion session and highlighted in his talk the need for continuous capacity building of teachers. He informed that NCTE has initiated the process of developing a draft National Policy on Teacher Education.

Mr. Pulkkinen shared the global vision and GeSCI's experience on providing guidelines on effective capacity building mechanisms for teachers and schools in several countries. He urged for developing an understanding and consensus on role of ICT in education and skills required by the teachers.

The participants were engaged in intensive discussion on various critical issues related to capacity building of teachers and schools and raising several pertinent questions. Participants shared different perspectives, experiences and feedback. The discussion led to a better understanding on the issues related to professional development of educators on integrating ICTs in the teaching and learning processes. A set of recommendations emerged out of the discussion.

Annie Koshi, Principal of St.Mary's school suggested the need to define the objective of education and role of ICTs in education. It was argued that different levels of education require different sets of action and strategy. The need was felt for understanding the skills required by teachers for integrating ICTs in education and was reiterated by Dr Anjlee Prakash, CEO, Learning Links Foundation.

The participants urged to deal with the issues of motivation and morale also. The need was felt to enhance the role and participation of State Government agencies and institutions like State Council Educational Research and Training. Post training follow up with the teachers and providing one laptop per teacher was recommended by Dr S N Uma of NIIT. The group discussed that all school teachers should be skilled and re-skilled from time to time with content available in local languages. Vineeta Dixit, CEO of SW Applications emphasised that digital divide is about access to and familiarity with technology. A teacher friendly software is required for training teachers in using information and communication technology. There is a lack of infrastructure and capacity to optimise the ICT tools to achieve educational objectives. Dr Prabhjot Kaur, Principal M V College of Education suggested that B.Ed courses should include and increase ICT in Teacher Training. There is a need to allow space and flexibility for the teachers to discover and explore the possibilities of integrating ICT in education. Prof Marmar Mukhopadhyay, Director, Educational Technology Management Academy also brought up to the group that there should be a model based on case studies of teacher training across the country. There should be effort to build and bind motivation for training of the teahers in education process.  Some pertinent points were raised by Prof MM Pant, Former Pro Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU who reiterated that there is a need to develop mechanism of teacher training and delivery of interactive content; sharing e-Content and sharing experience in web 2.0, emphasising learning over content delivery and metrics of learning as a process.

Discussion also covered the issues of training, content, language, infrastructure, access, educational management and monitoring and evaluation. Prof. Siddiqui summarised the discussions and recommendations made by various participants. The Round Table discussion ended with a Vote of Thanks by Ashish Garg, the Country Programme Director, GeSCI. 

Recommendations

The Teacher training curriculum in the country does not acknowledge the new age environment in schools and classrooms. There is a wide gap between the curriculum taught to teacher educators and the reality that exists in schools. With the exception of a miniscule percentage of well equipped schools, all the other schools are grappling with chronic issues of proper school buildings, teaching materials, shortage of teachers, absenteeism of teachers, severe drop out rates of children, lack of proper sanitation and drinking water facilities are just a few of the problems. The teachers in our government schools play multifarious roles; trying to deal with these issues and several others. In such a situation, we have a new pressure point and that is introducing ICTs in the school. Teachers technically trained on traditional methods of lesson delivery cannot be suddenly expected to turn into technology wizards and churn out lessons by the hour. This needs a well thought out plan of action on skilling and re-skilling teachers across the country and has to be continuous. 
A. The issues therefore are not of training or capacity building in the regular sense, but that of teacher empowerment. This requires that existing teacher training curriculum be modified to match the efforts made by the ministry to set up technology enabled environments in schools. Therefore, teacher training curriculum for government and private colleges should undergo a mandatory change with immediate effect. NCTE can take a lead in providing direction on this.

B. In Service teachers need to be introduced to technology tools, so that they May be able to use them easily. This will require regular training.  There is a need for regular skilling of teachers: on using ICT resources to create and manage a learning environment, training in delivering an “engaging and interactive” learning experience, training in creating high quality sharable e content and an immersion experience in creating web 2.0 tools. These opportunities need to be built in within the academic calendar and substantiated with awards and certification to motivate teachers in learning and equipping themselves with these skills. .Heads of schools will also benefit from learning the use of technology in schools, they can provide a clear and effective direction in planning and administration.

C. Pre-service training courses (B.Ed.) and their curriculum should be equipped with adequate e-learning component and must have provision for equipping prospective teachers in the use of technology resources in class room teaching. The national policy May prescribe a leadership role for NCTE, SCERT and other state government agencies to help in the development of relevant curriculum. 

Emphasising learning over content delivery is to be focused. Developing new learning metrics to measure student learning should be undertaken. The current system of evaluation of student learning does not allow creativity, innovation and research, which are important tools for life long learning. Learning mechanisms that promote mastery or deep learning, facilitate personalised learning based on learning styles and meta cognition can be adopted if teacher training curriculums accept new age technology tools to assess and evaluate student achievement on the basis of learning and not rote memorization. Train teachers to encourage cooperative and team learning environments. 

Efforts have to be made to create a pool of effective master trainers. There should be a mechanism for scaling up the quality of training to reach the approximately seven million teachers across the country to integrate ICT in education by developing models based on case studies, experience sharing and by organising discussion groups (online and offline).

A. Relevant education bodies May be mandated with the task of developing separate ICT enabled course curriculum and e-content for different levels of school education- primary, upper primary, secondary and upper secondary.

B. Multiple mechanisms for teacher training can be used such as: face to face workshops, self learning and distance learning. Edusat can still be used effectively. Keeping in view the accessibility issues of the country, Radio and television should be used for both teacher training and delivery of lessons.

Digital divide is about access to, and familiarity, with technology. Teachers should have assured access to technology and resources. Provision of One Laptop per Teacher (OLPT) should be made on a permanent basis. Computers are to be provided for staff rooms in each school. Infrastructure is an important point of intervention to bring ICT in schools. There is a need to look at appropriate software, tools and mechanism that are teacher-friendly and meet their needs in local circumstances.

There is a strong need to develop minimum standards for Instructional Design competence, standards for deployment of ICTs in teaching. These minimum standards can guide educators on effectively and innovatively use the new technology tools that focus on learning activities, rather than content delivery or general learner management. Along with these, minimum standards for student
evaluation and for maintenance and management of ICT systems should also be developed. In this regard, an open ended approach May be preferred to encourage innovative outcomes.
Public Private Partnership can be encouraged to meet several gaps within the existing infrastructure and for scaling up measures.

Motivation in teachers is of paramount importance and there is a need to allow space and flexibility for the teachers to discover and explore the possibilities of integrating ICT in education. This will ensure buy in and ownership of educators in integrating ICTs in education. The trainings and performance May be linked with  incentives like promotions, awards, etc. This will enhance  the morale of teachers and ensure their ownership in the change process.  

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