Making space for alternatives: the English in Action innovation The rationale for a new approach Therefore, at the inception phase of EIA in 2008, it was obvious that a new, more innovative approach had to be adopted to assist the project in being more creative and imaginative if the cynicism of teachers overburdened in recent years with international projects was to be avoided. Making a space where people can imagine possible futures can be a ‘motivator for getting unstuck’ (Ogilvy, 2006: 22) by creating alternatives to current practices. The technology Internationally, there are few large-scale examples of teacher professional development delivered through mobile phones. In the UNESCO (2012) series on mobile learning, several examples are given where mobile phones are used to deliver teacher support and classroom materials (e.g. the MXit platform in South Africa and the Road to Reading programme in Mali). However, it is significant that in these examples, teachers need an internet-enabled mobile phone and the resulting higher costs limit access to the vast majority of teachers and learners. Being aware of the popularity of the mobile phone in 2008, and mindful of the likely surge in ownership that was predicted to happen across the developing world, EIA went for an approach that was radically new in Bangladesh. Instead of taking teachers out of the classroom to access training, it was decided that CPD would leave the training centres and come directly to the teachers in their schools. A perfect storm scenario of the expected exponential growth of the mobile phone impacting with the failure of the cascade model of CPD led to the innovative approach of developing video and audio resources which could be delivered offline on handheld devices to provide training directly to individual teachers. Video on the mobile would offer an immediacy of impact and a degree of flexibility that much conventional trainingroom-based, trainer-led and time-bound input often could not match. If, as seemed likely, they could be made easily accessible to teachers in a ‘view anywhere, view any time’ package, then videos of classroom practice would not merely bring CPD directly to the teachers but they could also take them directly into other teachers’ classrooms to see models of good practice. In the pilot phase of English in Action (2009–10), to test the viability of the EIA approach, EIA developed teacher professional development resources (audio and video) pre-loaded on the Apple iPod Nano (for primary teachers) and iPod Touch (for secondary teachers). The use of high-end Apple technology, while acknowledged as impractical in terms of scale and sustainability, enabled the project to test out the concept of using non-internet-based handheld technology for classroom and school-based CPD at a time when low-cost mobiles were unable to deliver high-quality video. There was an assumption that by the time it came to scaling up, low-cost solutions accessible to the average teacher would be much more readily available and familiar, and this was indeed the case by 2011. In 2010 prior to scaling up, EIA field tested three technology kits in two rural districts looking at budgetary limitations, ease of use, durability and recharging. Following feedback from a range of teachers, the project decided on the Nokia C1 01 phone with 4GB micro SD card and portable speakers at a cost of £60 per teacher. This cost is currently covered by the project, but in the next phase, 2014–17, teachers will provide their own phones.
| English in Action in Bangladesh
Published on Aug 29, 2014
Published on Aug 29, 2014
The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...