Centre for Education and Technology
The focus of field projects in our work is on demonstrating participatory and decentralized models of technology integration in education, and using this experience to provide inputs for policy and curriculum.
Building state-wide professional learning communities of teachers, integrating digital methods into in-service teacher education programs of the public education system is our 'extensive' field project strategy. Our 'Subject Teacher Forum' programs in Karnataka, Telangana and Assam aim to build such extensive teacher networks for peer learning, sharing and collaborating. The teachers access, create and share open educational resources on mailing lists, mobile phone communities and on OER repositories.
Integrating ICT into school and class-room processes is our 'intensive' field project strategy. Our 'Teachers Communities of Learning' program in Bengaluru and Yadgir have aimed to empower teachers to integrate digital technologies for their own professional development, for classroom pedagogy and for creating open educational resources. Teachers have also interacted through block wide virtual networks for peer learning, mentoring and sharing.
Both the extensive and intensive programs are based on the 'professional learning communities' approach, which is acknowledged globally as a cutting edge model for teacher development and quality education. Taken together, they provide an effective model of teacher empowerment and professional development. These models have been able to successfully embed ICTs for teacher education and school development, in the government education system, due to the following design principles:
The programs are 'systemic', they build over existing government structures and processes, and leverage the resources (monetary and people) of the education system. They are funded by departmental budgets, and implemented by the SCERT and DIETs. Working at all levels of the school system (schools, district and the state-level policy institutions) has allowed the integration of ideas from these programs into the mainstream teacher education and curriculum making processes. This makes the model easier to scale and replicate across other state government school systems.
The intensive model builds school and classroom level learning, which informs the design of extensive program. The shared experiences of the state-wide learning community of teachers in the extensive model provides resources and insights for classroom and school processes. The two models thus, complement each other and provide a complete model for teacher professional development.
Leveraging the huge size of the government school system as a strength; the large number of government school teachers accessing, creating and sharing open educational resources has provided contextual materials for their classroom teaching.
Leveraging ICTs for effective teaching, self learning and peer learning. High quality Free and Open Source (FOSS) educational and generic resource authoring applications are used, this ensures ability to up-scale and sustain the program.
An equitable information society can flourish only through inclusive and informed debate, involving not merely actors from the technology arena but all actors in the development sphere, especially from the South. Current information society and 'ICTs for development' or ICTD approaches predominantly represent Northern realities and perspectives, tending to favour market-fundamentalist thinking and valorising technology per se. We attempt to de-construct the dominant approach and concepts in relation to ICTs and development and articulate alternatives, based on theoretical and empirical investigation.