We at Sajha Sikchya E-Paati (OLE Nepal) firmly believe that one of the most important steps in implementing any ICT-based educational approach is teacher preparation. Unless the teachers are fully comfortable with this new approach to teaching, providing students with computers and educational content alone will have limited impact on the teaching learning process.
Basic structure of the training
Driven by the above belief, we have designed a teacher training package that aims to empower teachers to integrate ICT-based educational materials in the teaching-learning process so that they can independently design and implement lesson plans incorporating ICT-based materials.
The taining consists of two major segments: a) a 4 day intensive residential, out-of-school training that focuses on giving the teachers hands on experience in integrating digitial educationals materials and ICT-based teaching approaches in the regular classroom instruction process and b) a 3 day training in the teachersâ€™ regular classrooms where they get to implement the integrated lesson plans they developed during the 4 day residential training.
As the second segment starts at the beginning of the school year, there a gap between the two segments. During this gap, the teachers play with the computers on their own and become even more familiar with the laptop and the avaialbe digitial educational materials. Then, a couple of days before the 3-day in-class training, the teachers themselves organize and lead interaction programs with parents/guardians and other stakeholders in their communities to introduce this new concept and generate commnity support. Since teachers are highly respected members of the local community, they are far more capable of garnering community support for this new idea than outside â€œexpertsâ€.
We completed our 4-day intensive residential training on April 1, 2008. The second segmentâ€”in-class trainingâ€”will take place in the third week of April.
Content covered in the training
Effective teacher preparation in ICT-based education requires adequate training in three areas:
1) Information technology literacy
2) Child-centric interactive teaching
3) Integration of ICT-based instruction in child-centric interactive teaching.
This training covered all three areas. However, it must be emphasized that integration of ICT-based instruction in child-centric interactive teaching was the focus of this training.
The specific content covered in the training included the following:
- Using the XO: introduction to the different components of the XO according to the most frequent tasks the user would have to perform. Main goal: help participants overcome their fear of computers and technology.
- Classroom arrangement/management: arrangement of the classroom furniture to maximize XO protection and maximize interaction (both between students and betweenstudents and teachers); formulating classroom rules and job lists.
- Education theory: Piagetâ€™s theory of cognitive development, Vigotskyâ€™s theory on scaffholding, Papertâ€™s ephasis on interactive learning; experimentâ€™s to illustrate some of these theories.
- Overview of digital content avaialble: E-paati interactive actictivities and e-library.
- Exercises with E-Paati interactive activities: how these activities enable students to learn new concepts, provide practice exercises, and give opportuties for self-evaluation while emphizing the â€œfunâ€ element in learning.
- Exercises with the OLE electronic library: exploration of the different sections of this full-text library and introduction to how the user can browse the library sections, search for specific items, and read books on the XO.
- Model lesson: demostration of a full grade 2 class period to show how E-paati activities can be integrated into the regular classroom teaching-learning process (included non-computer pre-activities, E-patti interactive activits, and post-activities).
- Practice teaching: volunteers among the trainees designed and conducted a full class that fully integrated E-paati interactive activities.
- Making integrated lesson plans: participants worked in pairs to design lesson plans integrating E-paati activties in their regular classes.
- Planning for interaction sessions with parents/guardians and other stakeholders in the community
Participants in the training
There were a total of 27 participants, including teachers, government officials, and members of the school management committee of the two schoolsâ€”Bashuki Lower Secondary School and Bishwamitra Ganesh Lower Secondary School.
Total teachers from Biswamitra: 11
Total teachers from Bashuki: 10
Staff involved in the training
Trainers: Bipul Gautam (co-ordinator and lead trainer), Saurav Dev Bhatta, and Kamana Regmi.
Engineers/System admins: Bryan Berry and Sulochan Acharya
Supporters behind the scene: Rabi Karmacharya, Rajeev Adhikari, and Upaya Sharma.
Venue: Malip International School, Panauti (around 35 km from Kathmandu)â€”thanks to Malpi principal and Sajha Sikchya E-Paati Board Member Mr. Jyoti Man Sherchan.
Day-by â€“day activities: brief overview
Length of typical training day: 8:30 am to 6:00pm; plus pot-dinner activities (homework + optional activities)
Day 0 (March 28): arrival at Malpi International School; training room setup; introductions
Day 1 (March 29): official inaguration ceremony, discussion of participantsâ€™ expectations, overview of the OLPC pilot project being launched by OLE Nepal and Department of Education, using the XO (focus of Day 1) , overview of digitial content available, exercises with E-Paati activities.
Day 2 (March 30): quiz, classroom arrangement/management, education theory (Piaget), model lesson, more practice with E-Paati activities
Day 3 (March 31): quiz, education theory (Vigotsky), introduction to E-library, lesson planning, more exercises with E-Paati activities, video of a government school using child-centric teaching-learning approach, disassembling the computer and putting it back together.
Day 4 (April 1): quiz, practice teaching, planning for interactions with parents/guardians and other stakeholders, feedback.
Most interesting outcomes
- Even teachers with absolutely no familiary with computers became very comfortable with the machine within 3 hours!
- Most participants had to be ushered out of the training hall at 10pm against their will. Some of them wanted to continue till midnight. Their enthusiasm and interest went beyond our wildest expectations.
- Two of the teachers (Manoj and Neema) were able to completely disassemble and reassemble the XOs within 3 hours.
- The most effective way of teaching the participants how to use the XO was through peer interaction.
- The teachers themselves developed new and appropriate vocabulary for certain specific functions of the computer.
- Once it was clear that the machine would not replace them, they were much more receptiveâ€”and they easily picked up the concept of integrating ICT-based educational materials in their daily classroom instruction process. The practice teaching session (conducted by Bashuki teacher Neema and Biswamitra teacher Bhim) was simply superb!
- The teachers were able to figure out new uses of the interactive E-Paati activitesâ€”uses we had not thought of beforeâ€”on their own.
- The pace of learning was similar for both older and younger teachersâ€”older teachers were not slower (contrary to expectations).
- Lady teachers were quicker learners.
- When the participants were using the XOs, the most effective way (or perhaps the only effective way) to turn their attention towards the trainer was by asking them to close the XO. This is a technique they will have to use regularly in their own classrooms if they want their students to pay attention to what they are saying.