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Learning Outcomes Highlighting Quality Aspects in Education Learning Outcomes is Educational Initiatives (EI)’s effort to understand, bring together and share learnings from India and around the world that contribute towards Quality Improvement in Education

ICT for language training

LEAD

Benefits of using ICT in teaching quantitative subjects are well-documented. But how best can we use this technology to enhance a qualitative, creative and subjective area like language training? Language learning is a very interesting, time-consuming and challenging process. After all, language is not a set of rules or conventions, but a way of thinking and representing the world around you to yourself and vice versa. Language learning can be divided into the following skills Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing (LSRW).

grammar and spellings which require more practice, a huge set of predefined questions in a specified order can be generated and the child can respond and practice till he masters the concept. Testing and assessment becomes easy, faster and more objective as answers can be checked on the spot, which reinforces short-term learning.

Technology can greatly aid language learning by engaging the child and enhancing the teaching/learning process by making it:

Adaptive A child can learn at his/her own pace, without being pressured by the pace of the classroom or the expectations of teachers, peers and parents. Technology not only helps brighter students in covering the syllabus faster, it also lets weaker students move further only when their fundamentals are clear. In certain areas of language training, creating clear-cut hierarchy of difficulty levels is a challenge. New technology actually helps in defining those levels and putting them in order.

Interesting ICT, especially the audio-visual medium, greatly appeals to students. Animated stories, poems and prose help in getting the child interested in language learning, which in turn, aids him in improving leaning in other subjects. Visuals play an important role in transforming learning areas and subjects which students find ‘mundane and boring’. Dry aspects of language such as grammar and spellings can be made very interesting with colourful and creative visuals to ensure that students’ interest and motivation levels remain high. Interactive For language learning, interaction with the teacher is a must! When technology is being used for educational purposes, the machine is the teacher and is very quick in its feedback. For example, for topics such as

wrong to say that the efficiency levels that can be attained with technology are often higher than those attained with purely human endeavors. Limitations The scope is unlimited and lot of techniques and creativity can be used to make language (and other subjects) more interesting. However, there are a few limitations to the usage of technology in language learning. ICT has proved to be so strong a medium that a child may be disinterested in using any other medium such as writing or reading conventional books once he’s comfortable with this medium.

Also, computer-based learning sometimes is taken up at the cost of out-door activities and not just as a supplement to classroom studies. At present, it is beyond the scope of a computer to understand and evaluate free speech, creative writing and the finer nuances of a language. Effective Thus, totally eliminating the presTechnology optimizes resources by ence of a teacher is not viable, esreaching a larger target group in pecially for language learning. lesser time. It makes it easy to repeat and regularly revise what is learnt, which aids long-term learning. Technology makes it possible to do things which are not humanly possible or might take a lot of time such as generating unlimited quantity of teaching material through perDarsha Kikani is Vice President mutation-combination of various Language Products at EI. teaching parameters. Thus, it is not

Virtual education to rural areas soon: Uddhav In order to attract more students to civic-run schools in the city, Shiv Sena -ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) launched 'virtual education system' and vowed to extend ambit of the project to rural areas. The BMC has launched the virtual education system in 80 of its

schools.

Jul– Aug 2011 | Year 1 Volume 3

TRENDS Info rma tio n and Communication Technology in Schools The Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Information and Communication Technology [ICT] in School” was launched in December 2004, to provide opportunities to students to develop ICT skills and also ICT aided learning process. The Scheme is a catalyst to bridge the digital divide amongst students of various socio economic and other geographical barriers. The Scheme provides support to States/UTs to establish computer labs on a sustainable basis. It aims to set up SMART schools in Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas to act as “Technology Demonstrators” and to lead in propagating ICT skills among students of neighbourhood schools. The Scheme currently is being implemented in both Government and Government aided schools. Support is provided for procurement of computers and peripherals, educational software, training of teachers and internet connectivity etc. The financial assistance is given to States and other institutions on the basis of the approvals accorded by Project Monitoring and Evaluation Group (PM&EG) headed by Secretary of the Department of School Education and Literacy. Source: Department of Information and Technology website

SPOTLIGHT

A civic school in Colaba, one of the few where virtual classroom techUnder virtual education, BMC schools nique was introduced, managed a 100 are connected with each other per cent result in Class ten exams. through a satellite. A teacher addresses the students in all these schools from a studio and holds interactive Source: IBN Live, July 26, 2011 sessions with them.


Teacher Evaluation

ISSUE

Why do we need to evaluate teachers for better learning outcomes? The competency and capability of teachers in a classroom situation has often been recognized as a critical, even most important, factor in helping children learn. However, the traditional role of a teacher has undergone a considerable amount of change and innumerable responsibilities have been entrusted to them. They have a more varied role to play than was probably the case a decade back.

What was traditionally regarded as effective may not be relevant in today's circumstances. The pressure to deliver has been constantly increasing on teachers, ever since the importance of their role for an effective teaching-learning process has been recognized duly. To help the teachers perform better under all this pressure and level of difficulty of level of work, the need for assessment has been long felt. In the light of the above it is not surprising that teacher evaluation is currently receiving interest and attention in India.

Teachers are accountable to parents, administrators and students at all times and due to this there is an increased sense of pressure. A teacher needs to exhibit leadership traits and handle managerial functions as a Teacher evaluation and its need are part of their every changing role. not new to educational institutions. Teachers are aware that they are They have to multitask and manage being constantly evaluated, perhaps resources, curriculum, co-curricular activities, examination, and at the in an informal or unsystematic mansame time, do all this with innovation ner, by officials, head teachers and and creativity. Their time manage- the community at large. ment and conflict management skills are put to test every day. However, no systematic, formal procedure of evaluation in relation Further, a teacher has to solve varito their key functional areas had ous behavioral and social problems in been implemented till lately. The the classroom before they can actually start teaching. Such changes in need of a systematic teacher evaluasituation call for highly effective and tion system in education cannot be underrated at any cost from the percreative teachers.

P A N E L

Teacher evaluation Experts from the industry speak about the relevance, usefulness, benefits and challenges of implementation of ‘Teacher Evaluation’ in the education system.

“Teachers must be equipped and capable not only of teaching children from diverse backgrounds but also taking them meaningfully to an age-grade appropriate level of learning. To strengthen the effectiveness of teacher preparation and ongoing teacher support, assessment linked to action is essential." Rukmini Banerji, Programme Director, Pratham

spective of ensuring quality education and professional development of teachers. In this context, it becomes relevant for us to address a few questions such as: -Who is going to evaluate teachers? -What could be the parameters to evaluate teachers? -What evaluation procedures should be used? -How is the information gained going to be finally used? -Would the information be useful to policy makers?

Once we are fully equipped with answers to these questions, teacher evaluation could be institutionalized following a process that suits the present demanding of the teacher’s role and contribute to improvement in the education system.

Role reversal in Andhra Pradesh Recently, the AP education department decided that in government and private schools, starting the current session, students will evaluate their teachers once a year in the month of December. Students will be provided with a question and mark-sheet, covering areas like knowledge, attendance, approachability , methods adopted to teach, etc. In government schools, the promotion of teachers will now also depend on the marks given by students.

Source: The Times Of India, July 20, 2011

“Teachers should welcome testing as it will reveal their inservice training needs and give them an opportunity to upgrade their skills before they are tested in a high-stakes way. “

“The investments in in-service teacher training can have better returns if they are need based, focused and have continuity. ‘Teacher Needs Assessments’ can help in this process.”

Dr. Geeta Kingdon, Chair of Education Economics & International Development, Institute of Education, University of London

Sandeep Saha, Vice President-Strategic Relationships, Educational Initiatives

The views expressed above are personal and not of the organization.


Project: Bhutan’s Teacher Needs Assessment (TNA)

Bhutan TNA was carried out by EI in 2009 to identify the needs of the teachers so that they could be fully equipped with necessary support they required for better learning outcomes of the children. E X P E R I E N C E

In the wake of rapidly evolving social scenario, quality education of Bhutanese children in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes assumes a critical significance in terms of strategy for the progress of the nation. In this context, the role of teachers in Bhutan’s progress can never be understated. To shoulder this important responsibility of shaping the country’s future effectively, teachers’ need to be equipped with the necessary support based on their individual needs. I am confident that TNA will provide a useful basis for various strategic steps taken by us collectively for enhancing the professional quality of teachers in Bhutan. I would encourage policy makers and teachers to widely us TNA reports and teacher specific findings provided by the study to improve and target teacher training, classroom reforms and processes.

Minister of Education Thimpu, Bhutan

WHAT?

WHO?

HOW?

A study to identify strengths and weaknesses, provide feedback to the teachers on areas to improve, identify with the needs of the teachers.

Ministry of Education (MEC BHUTAN), Royal Education Council (REC BHUTAN) and Educational Initiatives (EI).

For teachers of PP to class 4, to identify teacher needs, explore a link between student learning levels and teacher competence and align system with them.

en three topics, in 250 words. Further, teacher background information and teachers’ perception of needs were collected through a questionnaire.

culties solving application based questions of various difficulty levels. It was also very evident that teachers had misconceptions for various topics and they seemed to have passed on those to their students (after comparison of TNA and ASSL reports). While observing the language tests, it was noticed that teachers were able to retrieve facts and phrases explicitly mentioned in the passages but unable to make connection between sentences to figure indirect answers.

The Bhutan Teachers Needs Assessment study was carried out in 22 centers, across 19 dzongkhags (districts) of Bhutan in February 2009. This study was an initiative by Educational Initiatives with the help of Royal Education Bhutan and Ministry of Education, Bhutan; to test general skills, subject content and pedagogical skills, for teachers from class PP to class 4. The study covered subject content and the pedagogical skills paper covered 3 subject areas- English, Math and EVS. The general skills test assessed communication, intelligence, general awareness and basic ability in Math and language. The Subject content tests were designed to understand the conceptual strength the teachers have in their subject areas, and their learning gaps. The pedagogical practices test was constructed to identify the misconceptions teachers have and also provide a basis for understanding the common pedagogical practices followed by teachers in classrooms and their common beliefs about student learning.

Different types of analyses were carried out on the collected data to extract patterns in performances and to understand differences in learning levels across subjects, understand common misconceptions, errors, practices followed. Performance of teachers based at dzongkhag (districts) level, different school types, gender were also analyzed The main aim of this study was to and shared. identify common strengths and weaknesses among teachers, proThe main findings of this study vide feedback to individual teachers, showed that teachers were not com- and recommend specific system fortable answering typical questions level interventions for teacher imthat were not put forward in the provement that assume significance expected format. They also had diffi- in the present scenario.

The questions followed a multiple choice format (MCQ). Apart from the MCQs, all teachers were administered a writing task as a part of their general skills paper, where they had to write on one topic out of the giv-

Teachers Needs Assessment

Important if the money and efforts being used for teacher trainings on regular basis are to be utilized in the right direction! It appears self-evident that if somebody is in a strong position to positively influence student learning, it is the teacher. However, investments in teacher training are not showing clear returns in increased student achievement levels. Could it be that

the teacher development initiatives being adopted are not completely in line with the teachers’ needs? A Teacher Needs Assessment (TNA) that identifies common strengths or weaknesses among teachers, provides feedback to individual teach-

ers, and recommends specific system level interventions for teacher improvement assumes relevance in the scenario.


Asia-Pacific countries meet

RECENT

The countries gather to question the quality of education in the region Countries from Asia and the Pacific will gather to address quality of learning for all and recommend actions at the Regional Policy Seminar: Towards Quality Learning for All in Asia and the Pacific in Seoul, Republic of Korea on 28-30 July 2011. The event, co-organized by UNESCO Bangkok and the Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI), will focus on two major enabling factors that improve quality of learning: education personnel and financing policies. Participants will consider: what teacher management and financing policies enable improved student learning? This will also provide valuable stimulus to the upcoming Fourth High Level Forum on aid effectiveness in Busan, Republic of

Korea in November 2011. Representatives from Australia, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, as well as the FTI Secretariat, OECD, KOICA, UNICEF and the Task Force on Teachers for EFA Secretariat (TEFAS) will participate in the seminar. In the Asia and Pacific region, several governments have shown a strong commitment towards including all children and achieving universal basic education. Many countries have also expanded their postbasic education, and some have

already achieved universal secondary education. However, there are growing concerns across the region that goal six of the Education for All (EFA) goals continues to be comparatively overlooked and improperly addressed by governments and the international community alike. The goals include the expansion and improvement of early childhood care and education; achievement of universal primary education; lifelong learning and life skills; adult and youth literacy; elimination of gender disparities in primary and secondary education and achievement of gender equality in education; and improvement in all aspects of the quality of education.

ICT in Education– the good and the bad

This 9th annual event - aimed to address national policies, discuss effective strategies, strengthen international partnerships and produce recommendations to improve quality learning for all for countries in the region. Source: www.indiaeducationadiary.com

GENERAL

Anurag Behar, co-CEO of Azim Premji Foundation and leads sustainability initiatives for Wipro Ltd tells us about their study and the findings. Limitations of ICT in Education. We worked with various state governments to use these DLRs in thousands of schools. After 5 years, when we took stock at a fundamental level. Certainly, the children and teachers who used them loved them. It created excitement and interest in the classroom. But beyond that, there was practically no impact in a sustained, systemic manner on learning.

Second, the school culture, its leadership and the broader system that the school was part of had a determining impact on whether the computer and DLRs were seen (and used) as a new toy, as a piece of furniture that needed to be protected.

First, the limited numbers of schools with computers (today an estimated 14% have at least one) have a very poor uptime. In the studies that we conducted, this was at best 30%, driven both by poor electricity supply and the inability to fix technical glitches.

Fourth, the DLR seemed to add no value to the dialogic, discovery driven process of actual learning—which was completely determined between www.livemint.com/2010/12/15201000/ the children and the teachers. If it did Limits-of-ICT-in-education.html add anything to the standard rote This effort must lie in teacher and method, it was not noticeable, and it school leader capacity building, in was certainly not needed. examination reform (away from rote

Third, irrespective of the DLR quality, its use for learning was only as good as the teacher in the classroom. With Let us just list the issues that we a few exceptional teachers, it befound out without getting into the came a useful tool, ordinarily, it was how, when and why of it. just a means of entertainment.

Now, we think of information and communications technology (ICT) as an important tool on the management side of the education system. We continue to explore its potential, but we believe ICT is important, not fundamental.

to assessing real learning), improvements in curriculum as well as accountability, governance and management. All this must happen, not just in intentions and policy, but in actual implementation—in a sustained and institutional manner. ICT would have a role in all this, but not If you are an outsider and have not the central role. been involved in our study, you might want to question our findings. At its best, the fascination with ICT as We confess this failure candidly, be- a solution distracts from the real cause we find that innumerable peo- issues. At its worst, ICT is suggested ple inside and outside the education as substitute to solving the real probsystem think of technology (always lems, for example, “why bother meaning ICT) as something between about teachers, when ICT can be the a panacea and “the-most-important- teacher”. This perspective is lethal. solution.” And the one’s in influential To read the full article, visit: http:// positions

Educational Initiatives (EI) A world where children everywhere are learning with understanding EI, an effort by a group of IIT-IIM alumni with first-hand experience of setting up and running educational institutions, has been formed to work towards qualitative improvement in India’s educational system. The Company behind ASSET 1 and Mindspark2, 9-year-old EI works closely with State Governments, Municipal School Boards, Private schools and Schools groups, and other Governmental, Non-Governmental and Private partners by offering products and services that assess how children learn, diagnose teacher training needs, and provide insights into improving it. 1. ASSET (Assessment of Scholastic Skills through Educational Testing) is India’s leading diagnostic test, conducted for classes 3-10 with an objective of finding out students’ actual understanding of the concepts in the core subjects of English, Math and Science (also available for Social Studies and Hindi). For details, log on to www.ei-india.com 2. Mindspark is an interactive, computer-based self-learning programme, which allows a student to learn at its own pace. To know more, visit www.mindspark.in


Learning Outcomes Jul-Aug 2011