Banner for the Teacher Training Program
Saurav Dev Bhatta, Bipul Gautam, and Kamana Regmi designed the teacher training program. Sulochan Acharya and Bryan Berry provided technical assistance. Bipul is the lead teacher trainer and is steeped in the theories and practices of different educational schools but Vygotskian Social Cognition and Piaget’s theories of development have influenced him the most.
The session started with an opening ceremony. Our guests of honor were by the Director
of the Department of Education Mr Mahashram Sharma, Executive Director of the Curriculum Development Center Mr. Hari Bol Khanal, and Mr. Sambhu Dahal of CDC. Arjun Aryal and Kha Gha Raj Poudel of the Department of Education were also present.
Baburam Paudel, Deputy Director of the Department of Education and head of Nepal’s OLPC program.
Mr. Mahashram Sharma, Director of the Department of Education called the teachers participating in the training program “pioneers”
Dr. Saurav Dev Bhatta explains the keys on the keyboard
The first day of training focused on basic use of the XO and its functions. Saurav spent a lot of time explaining the functions of the different keys on the keyboard. This was much appreciated by many of the teachers who had minimal experience with computers. Later in the day, Saurav led the teachers in exploring E-Paati and other activities on the XO.
On the morning of the second day Bipul focused on the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky that underpin constructionism. The afternoon of the second day returned to the activities in the XO and how they reflect the ideas of Piaget and Vygotsky.
details to come . . .
details to come . . .
What’s missing? We want to train the teachers how to use EToys, Scratch, and other programming tools but there is only enough time for us to scratch the surface here. Teachers are just now on the third day learning how to use drag-and-drop using the touchpad. We hope to steadily build up to using Etoys and programming tools as standard parts of training and teaching/learning.
Some teachers dove right in and weren’t hesitant to try out different features. Many others were very hesitant and waited for direction before proceeding. I am very happy that we invested so much time in building up the E-Paati activities. They embody the same educational ideas as the XO and are based traditional Nepali cultural themes. Many of the teachers that seemed a bit wary of the XO initially later told me that they really like E-Paati and felt very comfortable using it.
I am really happy that we chose to have extensive teacher training ahead of handing out the XO’s. We have 4 days off-site of teacher training, followed several weeks later by 3 days on school premises. The off-site training is critical because it gives us many more hours per day with the teachers. on the first day we started at 8 am and ended officially at 6 pm. However, after dinner most teachers wanted to return to the classroom. Almost all teachers were back in the classroom by 8 pm and we had to make them at leave at 10 pm so we could get some sleep!
If we had started with on-site training, most teachers would have lost roughly four hours of training per day to commuting to their home schools. Many teachers had trouble using the touchpad. Often they used too much pressure and released their finger quickly. We need to spend more time on touchpad, particularly that touching the touchpad inadvertently with additional fingers.
XO or E-Paati?
Many of the participants found the term “XO” for the XO confusing. The teachers discussed this matter for some time and came to a consensus on calling the XO “EPaati.” This still causes some confusion as we call our activity suite E-Paati. Guess we will have to find a new name for the activities. E-Paat basically means E-blackboard.
I know the OLPC Nepal guys like to call the XO “Mero Sanu Saathi” or my small friend. The teachers were not so fond of this name as it seemed to place too much emphasis on the machine itself and not on the social learning environment that it enables. Saurav stressed again and again that the XO is not meant to replace them but to empower them like the”Paati” (blackboard) does currently but in a much more compelling way.
Several teachers from both schools approached us and told us that they would like to set up regular meetings between teachers at both schools so that they can support each other and share solutions.
Manoj Ghimire of Bishwamitra assisting his colleague Kapil Gautam. The Peer-to-peer interaction has been amazing.
More news to come later! This has really been exhilarating and more than a bit exhausting.