Pioneering Innovation in the Education of B.Ed. Students in Madhya Pradesh, India: Preparation for the rolling out of a Blended course in 2015

Authors: Jubilee Padmanabhan, Kayhan Sanyal, Kamiya Kumar, Shreyanka Rao, Angelique Mahal, Radhika Iyengar

Jubilee Padmanabhan is Head of Education Department, Hindupat Institute of Teacher Training.

Kayhan Sanyal is Senior Program Manager at Avanti Fellows, specializing in instructional design using ICT.

Kamiya Kumar is a current Master’s of Education degree (M.Ed) student in the Curriculum and Teaching Department, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Shreyanka Rao works at Avanti Fellows specializing in international education development.

Replacing rote learning and traditional teaching methods with a new approach via a blended course for the Hindupat Institute of Teacher Training, Jiwaji University in Raghogarh, Madhya Pradesh, India has been in development this year with the help of education advisors from Columbia University in collaboration with Avanti Fellows (http://avantifellows.org). This blended course, Emerging International Education Trends with Focus on the Indian Education System, will run from early to mid-2015 over the course of three months. The objective of the course is to inform pedagogy and hone the teaching capacity available at teacher education institutions by developing engaging curriculum to promote active learning. This blended learning strategy is learner-centered pedagogy through a constructivist approach as it follows a continuous and comprehensive evaluation of the participants. It is not a traditional course. While aligned to a required foundational course for the B.Ed., Education in Emerging India, and compliant with the National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, it brings a new approach to educating B.Ed. students in the Indian Secondary Teacher Education program through:

  • Recorded video content in both English and Hindi
  • Interactive in-class exercises
  • Peer instruction in teacher education
  • Access to quizzes, readings, syllabus on an online Learning Management System  (LMS)
  • Summaries of course readings in both English and Hindi
  • Creating blogs
  • Face-to-face facilitation
  • Promoting active learning
  • Support on use of the LMS and technology services

Overall, the course will be taught in English and Hindi. Participants will be trained on blended learning as a strategy as well as content in international education with a focus on India and recent trends in education reform. It will start with an overview of current global trends in education along with reviewing key education indicators. Students receive an opportunity to compare education philosophers with current education practice. This is followed by discussions on specific trends on gender parity, learning, school continuation and completion. Along with discussing trends and challenges, the class will also focus on comparative case studies or global “best practices” as potential solutions and discuss their possible adaptation to India. The course will also provide an overview discussion on education finance and concludes with a discussion on the post-2015 education agenda. Readings reflect a diverse and rich global discourse on education and the Indian education system.

Students will undertake a locally-based research project and will receive a data collection toolkit to be used in this group assignment. Students will be expected to explore a theme in the Indian education system in-depth and understand its relevance to the current context and assess the effectiveness of the policy or practice on students learning. Based on course readings, discussions, presentations, lectures, and research, students are to propose an improved or alternative system to address the challenges/limitations of the current Indian education system ensuring that the proposal benefits students learning. Students will present their research to the class. Research themes include:

  • Practice and relevance of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation for assessing student learning progress
  • Challenges, gaps, successes of Right to Education (RTE) Act
  • Practice in schools using a constructivist approach
  • Researching international education practices and further understanding of the strengths and possibilities of growth in the Indian education system
  • Status of education finance throughout India
  • Different theme of interest proposed from readings

The practicalities that teachers face in the classroom and action-based research are emphasized in this course in lieu of just a theoretical orientation encompassing little relevance to the current education debates in India. For instance, the question still remains, how does knowing about the viewpoints of Dewey, Krishnamurti and Aurobindo improve classroom teaching practices? The course helps the students to understand the larger Indian education policy sphere, yet at the same time, they are asked to collect data from the schools during their practicum to practically understand the policy-to-practice dilemma such as RTE. This course helps to not only read about the education trends in India and global best practices, but at the same time situate them in the global discourse on education.  Through a blended learning approach, the course methodology envisions the school as the laboratory where pre-service teachers individually engage with content online followed by discussions on their observations of the content and its application in the classroom.

This blended course runs off a free teacher account on an online LMS available at www.instructure.com. Diverse content is housed in the account for teachers and students to access as well as tools to create and file content. A course handbook developed to provide guidance and instructions on the course and each session is available currently in English and will be translated into Hindi once finalized. Course syllabus, readings, reading summaries, and quizzes are also embedded in the LMS. Concise supplemental tips on using the LMS are being added to the course handbook and syllabus showing teachers and students how to develop and access quizzes, how to add students to the course, how to develop a blog, and how to access help information on the LMS. Not all components of the course are on the online LMS. Again, this is a blended course. Students will receive instruction through an on-site teacher and a remote-based teacher.

Do all students have email addresses to be registered in the course? No. Have students previously created blog entries? No. Are they used to interactive learning and instruction? No. Will they be familiar with how to take an online quiz? No. Will students be left to understand the technological component on their own? No. They will be supported.  This is fundamentally a new approach and challenges exist and are welcome. This blended course will be proof of a model that has the potential to reach out to teacher education colleges and district-based teacher training centers that need re-thinking of their teacher education models.

The collaborative aim is to demonstrate the viability of recorded content, face-to-face facilitation, interactive in-class exercises, peer instruction in teacher education, and provide adequate support to teachers and students on the ICT component. As Emerging International Education Trends with Focus on the Indian Education System is an overview course, it can be incorporated into other B.Ed. and M.Ed. programs. With this, the ultimate aim is to provide a template for how courses can be designed and implemented effectively to address the objectives of the Indian government agency, National Mission on Education through ICT:

  • Creating and using a simple ICT needs assessment to measure the baseline of the participant’s ICT competencies
  • Pedagogy using ICT
  • Content development in local language
  • Standardization and quality assurance of content
  • Support systems for learners
  • Testing and certification
  • Research for efficient implementation and improved course design

Stay tuned in 2015 to this blog series on the blended course, Emerging International Education Trends with a Focus on the Indian Education System, for the roll-out, the challenges that will arise, the wrap-up, and future steps.

 

 

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