The Policy Planning Unit (PPU) of the Education Department, Government of Karnataka, organized workshops to train 120 government teacher educators' from DIETs and BRCs, as ‘Master Trainers on Public Software educational tools', during August 2010, with resource support from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Azim Premji Foundation, infrastructure support from RV College of Engineering and faculty from IT for Change and RV Educational Consortium. The participants came from all districts of Karnataka and will work with teachers in their respective districts to build their capacities to use these tools in the regular teaching-learning processes in mathematics, science and social science subjects.
Most computer programs in schools so far have focused primarily on teachers and students acquiring basic computer skills, and there is not much attention to 'computer aided learning'. The teachers also have no opportunity to use these basic computer skills acquired and the training in many cases becomes redundant and irrelevant. The workshop premise is that by shifting the focus to training teachers to use ICT educational tools for teaching regular subjects , it will enable greater ownership and commitment of teachers to using new possibilities offered by ICTs and consequently to more effective use of the ICT tools in the schools. This is the first program in public education system in Karnataka, that focussed on ICT educational tools, covering mathematics (Geogebra), science (KTech), english (KAnagram) and geography/ environmental sciences (KGeography, KStars). Since these tools are publicly owned, a copy of the software applications was given to all the master trainers to install in their offices and elsewhere. Master trainers from the Kerala IT @ Schools program (which has pioneered the use of such public software educational tools), invited by Azim Premji Foundation, also shared their ideas, lesson plans and gave feedback to the participants . These ICT tools adopt a learner centred approach based on a theory of learning called constructivism, its core idea being that knowledge is actively constructed by the learner, building on her existing knowledge and it is not passively received from the teacher . The premise also is that with the teacher herself experiencing this pedagogical approach through use of these educational tools, she would be more amenable and able to adopt it while teaching in her classroom. [caption id="attachment_292" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="State Project Director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, Ms Sandhya Venugopal Sharma interacting with participants in State Master Trainers in ICT educational tools program. The background screen shows the “Marble” public software tool useful for teaching of geography"][/caption] In order to move beyond narrow 'tool focus' of ICTs, where techno-fascination is often a serious limitation and even danger, the program also had sessions on educational perspectives and the National Curriculum Framework 2005, where the potential of ICTs to support constructivistic teaching-learning approaches was discussed. The program resources are available here. An inexpensive netbook costing Rs 15,000 was demonstrated to the participants – this has all the features of the latest computers (except it has no DVD drive), provides 7 hour power backup and is highly portable, being less than half a kilogram in weight. A netbook or laptop needs to be seen as a basic learning tool that all teachers must possess, and looking at it as a luxury or only as a sophisticated typewriter can retard powerful teacher professional development possibilities. Two of the participants were motivated to buy these netbooks during the workshop and many others expressed that they would too purchase their 'learning tools'. The participants were enthusiastic about the possibilities of these tools in daily teaching learning processes. Some even came up with creative lesson plans on these tools. An e-mail list has been created for them to network, discuss these tools and also share their ideas, issues and solutions. The assessment process for these participants included reviewing their pre training and post training learning through simple tests, participation during the training and reading the 'reflections' written by them after each days training. The participants who would be 'certified' as master trainers based on the assessment, would train five high school teachers in each block who would then train their colleagues over the next three years.