A residential refresher training on ICT-integrated teaching using OLPC laptops and OLE Nepalâ€™s original content was held at the Government of Nepalâ€™s Training Center in Rupandehi from November 22-25. In attendance were teachers and principals from three schools (Shree Pancha, Mahendra and Nepal Rashtra) and representatives from the District Education Office Kapilvastu.
The training session started with the participants sharing their experiences with â€˜e-paatiâ€™ (OLPC laptops or XOs) integrated teaching so far. The responses were mostly positive: attendance has been more regular, children have stopped running away after lunch break, and there has been a marked improvement and excitement in both English and Maths. They also pointed out the possibility of adult education through the laptops; one school has already been running regular classes for mothers after school. A major problem in some of the schools are language-related and the teachers were positive that Nepali activities in E-Paath will have a significant impact on the kidsâ€™ self-learning and catching up with Nepali (in the case of children whose mother tongue is not Nepali). There were some concerns regarding loss and destruction of laptops and with issues pertaining to the teachers not having the technical know-how to deal with even minor problems when they come up but the decision was unanimous: there has definitely been an increase in the gunastar (quality) of education since the introduction of the program.
The participants were given homework, to improve on a given â€˜poorâ€™ lesson plan (with each school producing one â€˜strongâ€™ lesson plan each) and also to bring their old lesson plans the following day. Just prior to the homework being assigned, a discussion on what makes good lesson plans and what must be done in planning a good lesson were discussed. These included figuring out an appropriate objective for the class, making lesson plans according to these set objectives, planning time out properly and finding relevant E-Paath activities and practicing them at least a few times before planning and seeing how they can be integrated into the regular lesson to best meet the objectives.
The second day began with a discussion of previously made lesson plans by the teachers. The teachers were instructed to discuss their strengths and shortcomings and to then discuss what is already being done and what still needs to be worked on in the future.
The teachers felt that the format of the lesson plans were good and that time allocation had been done appropriately in most of the lesson plans. Also E-Paath activities had been somewhat integrated into the plans. However, they felt that many things needed to be paid careful attention to still. These included: clearly setting out the objective of the class and working towards completing it within the given timeframe, using teaching materials other than just e-paati, having a clear idea of what to do while the XOs are starting up and E-Paath is loading, clearly spelling out which E-Paath activity is being used as well as the relevant chapter in the textbook, and writing out directions for homework to be assigned. The trainers emphasized the importance of not wasting the time that it takes for the XOs and E-Paath to load, given the already tight time constraints.
Discussions on classroom management then followed. The trainers and participants discussed the importance of classroom management in ICT-integrated classrooms, to make sure the teacher is in control of what is going on, that no time is being wasted and that the students understand and follow instructions.
The conversation then turned to integrating E-Pustakalaya and its contents into the teaching-learning process. Teachers were shown how to download books, how to change their filenames and how to manage the books inside the XO. The key advantages of integrating E-Pustakalaya into the education system were then discussed: self-learning, independent inquiry, establishing of a reading culture and the ability of students to search things for themselves, like look up words in a dictionary.
The participants and the trainers visited one of the schools Shree Pancha Lower Secondary School in Baijalpur on the third day. The teachers were all prepared to teach each with a lesson plan, but lots were drawn and six of them conducted test classes. The remaining participants were assigned specific classes to observe and evaluate. ICT-integrated teaching was tried out in three grades: two, three and six in Maths, Nepali and English.
The group met and discussed the test classes from the previous days. Each teacher was given a chance to first evaluate their own performance and then the observers gave their comments.