Abstract focus on ways to improve the quality

 

Abstract

National
Curriculum Framework 2016 considers teachers as the pivot around which our
education system revolves. Teacher is the key for improvement of the quality of
our nation’s education system. A teacher should be instilled with skills that
are a blend of social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual capabilities in
order to tackle the ever changing challenges in our education system that arise
due to the constantly changing human society. Embanking on the traditional
old-style of education does not hold well with present day learners. They are
well exposed to technology, expect to gain quick access to knowledge and need
teaching strategies that will grasp their attention. In order to address the
above, a 21st century Indian teacher should be provided with knowledge of
innovative ideas and practices that will help improvise curriculum, teaching
and teaching practices. This paper focuses on innovative practices with respect
to technology inclusion in teaching that have been identified to be effective
in assisting our pre-service teachers in the digital era.

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Keywords: Teacher Education,
Innovative Practices, Information Communication Technology, Blended and Hybrid learning,
and Open learning.

 

Introduction

The quality and effectiveness of our education
system is determined by various stake-holders in education, like planners,
administrators, educationists etc. However, excellent and effective teachers
are believed to be the ones with the power to change the fate of our nation. According
to the National Curriculum Framework 2016 teachers are the pivot around which
our education system revolves. In order to achieve the required learning
outcome from our students, we need to focus on ways to improve the quality of
teachers in India. A teacher should be instilled with skills that are a blend
of social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual capabilities in order to
tackle the ever evolving challenges in our education system that arise due to
the constantly changing human society.

In the present digital era, we are very much
dependent on technology. We see kindergartners easily navigating through a
touch-phone, and a high school student with million followers on Instagram or
YouTube. Today’s students tend to demand for change in teaching-learning
approach as their ability to gather information is faster than any other
generation. Therefore, there is a need to develop the skill in our teachers to
integrate technology and education in a well-balanced way to bring out the best
learning in our technology immersed students. In order to facilitate the above,
a 21st century teacher should be provided with knowledge of innovative ideas
and practices with respect to technology that will help improvise curriculum,
teaching and teaching practices.

 

Innovative Practices – Meaning and
Concept in Teacher Education

            Georhe
Couros stated, “Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the
hands of great teachers is transformational.”

Today’s children grow up using touch phones, playing
video games assisted by a Kinet, read books on a kindle etc. This shows the
extent to which technology has penetrated in our lives. Digital technology has
changed the way our students learn concepts in schools.  This emphasizes on the need for teachers to understand,
that the traditional chalk and talk method will no more work with our new
generation students. Thus, teachers should unveil innovative practices which
will cater to the need for quick access to knowledge, and teaching strategies
that will grasp the students’ attention.

Etymologically, the word “Innovation”, is derived
from the Latin word “Innovare” which means to change something into something
new. Being innovative with new practices is working towards looking beyond what
we are already good at. It is putting new ideas to practice in order to result
in better outcomes. Innovations are important to improve quality of teachers
and education imparted across all levels of teaching. Hence, the aim of teacher
education should be to produce teachers with professional competencies apt for
the present digital era.

 

Innovative Practices for Teacher
Education in the Digital Era

Below are few innovative practices that could
enhance quality of teacher education –

1.     
Information
Communication Technology (ICT): ICTs refer to all
technologies like computers, satellites, mobile phones, Web 2.0, internet, video-conferencing,
interactive forums, learning management systems, etc. which favours the
collection, editing, storage, distribution and presentation of information. ICTs
have influenced education by bringing major changes to teaching approaches, the
way our students learn, enhancing access to educational resources and tools,
facilitating distant education and open learning, and also with the education management
system. It adds the aspect of flexibility to education. Incorporation of ICTs knowledge
in our teacher education programs will enable our future teachers to well understand
how they can use ICTs to identify new teaching strategies, plan their teaching,
identify appropriate technology that suits their pedagogy and make their class
more productive, realistic and interesting for our new generation learners.

2.     
Blended
and Hybrid learning: This is an approach to teaching where
the teacher resorts to the use of information and communication technology as a
supplement for traditional classroom face-to-face teaching, especially when
direct teacher assistance is difficult to be provided to all students. This
approach provides easy access to information sources, and acts as a
communication channel for the teachers and students. This approach can be
assisted by using learning management systems (LMS), by uploading and storing
of notes in the form of slides or PDFs. Links for online reading material can
be provided or online discussion forums can be established as well. Learning
how to effectively implement this approach in teaching-learning practice will
help the pre-service teachers to become effective online facilitators. Lectures
can also be recorded and uploaded online so that students can view them when
they are free. This paves way to promote the use of classroom time for more
interactive sessions, hence favouring ‘flipped classroom’ approach of teaching.

3.     
Open
learning: This is similar to online learning but it works
towards open education. Open learning is a movement that favours the students’ independent
and interest-guided learning. Open learning facilitates our teachers to gain
knowledge in new areas of teaching and learning not covered under the present
teacher education program, and also helps them to explore courses from across
the globe that they might find useful for improving their teaching skills. Open
educational resources (OERs) are part of open learning. This includes Open
textbooks and other digital forms education materials, which are available
either as free resources or via creative commons license. Some most common open
learning platforms are Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare
project, edX, Open2Study, Coursera etc.

 

Advantages of Innovative practices

Some advantages that accompany the use of innovative
practices in teacher education:

i.                   
Facilitates increase of motivation and self-learning
among students.

ii.                 
Helps to make tedious tasks easy and
simple to understand. Therefore, keeping students busy and engaged.

iii.               
Promotes pre-service teachers to think
beyond boundaries, and come up with new ideas to double their confidence levels.

iv.               
Establishes a more active form of
learning, and makes complex subject matter easy.

v.                 
Innovative practices focus on developing
teachers’ pedagogical knowledge and the ability to apply the knowledge in
teaching-learning process. Therefore, facilitating future teachers by making
them more confident and creative in the teaching profession by enabling them to
implement curricula and assessment modes of the 21st century. (Grewal, 2016)

 

Conclusion

            Technology is changing the
teacher-student relationship, enabling introvert students to participate in
online classroom discussions and providing our students with global
perspective. In order to facilitate our future teachers to face the above
changes innovative practices are essential. Innovations pave the path for
progress our nation, and the future of our nation is in its classroom. Adoption
of innovative practices by our teacher education programme is crucial, as the
future teachers need to be equipped with skills, knowledge and creativity
required to uplift our community and our future citizens to levels that will
help them be competent in the stream of education concerned, and to tackle the
challenges the ever evolving human society opposes in their lives. Therefore,
innovative practices irrespective of whether structured or unstructured should
be promoted for teaching in schools, colleges and universities as long as it
provides meaningful learning to the students.