computer learning || Teacher role And Their Teacher training

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computer learning Teacher role And Their Teacher training

Recent years have witnessed   the widespread acceptance of computers  in schools  over the  world.  Several factors have influenced the induction of this technology in schools teaching online, notably, the government funded programmers, societal pressures, teachers, computer scientists, researchers, etc. It has also attracted interest from a wide range of academic disciplines e.g. education, life-sciences, psychology, mathematics, physical sciences, linguistics, etc. Educators are confident that computer is making a profound impact on education. Within a span of about two decades it has become a major delivery system for education at all levels and practically in all subjects.

Sooner or later, social changes bring changes in education and as such these have to be reflected as a practice in teacher training institutions. It is, therefore, necessary to locate educational changes in the context of complex processes of technological, social and cultural changes. The problem of education is not simply to respond automatically to social changes but to analyze very carefully the process of change before taking decision to appropriate responses.

Applications of Computers to Existing Educational Needs

  1. Computers can be used in education in a number of ways-

(a) Administrative purposes,      (b) information retrieval,

(c)  Direct instruction,     and        (d) simulations.

  1. Students do not write as well or as much as they should. Their writing communication skills teaching online should be improved, both in methods and in organization. A computer can facilitate the writing process, through the use of word-processing, revision and editing. The use of electronic messages can bring an additional dimension to writing and communication.
  2. A computer with a database management programmed can support the collection, organization and retrieval of information in ways not available otherwise. Computer practice and use of databases are powerful ways to develop organization and classification skills in sciences and social sciences as well as to develop inquiry skills appropriate for the workforce and social environment, where the students have to move.
  3. Students need to know, how to match the type of desired information with the source of information? And how to access this information when it is electronically stored? A computer with a modem and subscription to an information network (such as a news service database), would be routinely available to students and teachers. Regular use of a internet during classroom discussions on current events or issues in social sciences, can allow the teacher and class to explore about any topic or issue on what is being said throughout the world.
  4. Students are becoming consistently weak in problem solving, both at finding solutions and more fundamentally, at selecting appropriate strategies for the investigation problems. Using a computer as a tool-by learning the application of word-processor/database/ spreadsheet/writing a programme-provides rich and stimulating problem solving experiences.
  5. Students need better skills at drafting, interpreting and criticizing graphic summaries of information. Developing the ability to interpret graphic material is an important educational goal, not only because graphics is an important part of curriculum of different subjects but also because now information is routinely presented in graphic form. Computers generate graphs quickly, effortlessly and attractively.
  6. With the use of simulation programmes or combined tutorial and simulation programmes in science teaching at remote and less developed universities/colleges, where the laboratories are not well equipped with expensive equipments, the students can get practical knowledge equivalent to laboratory experiences. But the success in this area depends upon the effectiveness of the software.

The use of computer is not only cost-effective but safer and time-effective particularly in physics, chemistry, electronics, horticulture management and i n some other vocational training courses. The application of simulation programmes have been found quite effective in United States of America.

  1. At higher education, in such courses, where there is very high teacher/student ratio or in courses where there are no qualified teachers or in courses where there may be only few students e.g. quantum mechanics, epidemiology, etc., the computer assisted instruction might be most cost-effective.
  2. Introduction of computers in school administration implies radical changes in the working methods of managerial and clerical staff.
  3. Introduction of computers i n education will enhance the job opportunities (employment prospects), for students to a high technological world.

Computers in Education: The Indian Scene

During recent years our government has been putting ‘its’ best effort to introduce computers in education at par with developed countries. To acquaint the teachers and students with the knowledge of the role of computer in contemporary society, its applications, potential and use in instruction, NCERT started a project CLASS (Computer Literacy and Studies in Schools) during 1983-84. This project was intended to introduce computer science education in schools. I n the first year of this project (1984-85), about 248 government and semi-government schools of urban areas were selected. Besides this, 42 resource centers were also selected (these are either technological institutions or universities) to train school teachers as well as to provide logistic support to these 248 schools. By 1987, the resource centers were increased to 50 whereas experimental schools up to 1250. During 1984-87, about3200 school teachers were provided training for 3-4 weeks at the selected resource centers.

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Although CLASS is in operation since 1986, the use of computers in classroom teaching-learning process was found negligible, (even in these experimental schools)/after years of its implementation. Thus CLASS does not seem to be quite effective in generating enthusiasm either in teachers or in students. So far, no attempt has been made to integrate CLASS with the existing curricula. As such, the project had not succeeded to achieve the expectations of the society/government. Perhaps, the root cause of failure lies for not having proper planning at the stage of its implementation .

At the first phase, before introducing the computers in education, we have to set the educational objectives. Some of these may be

  • Acquaint all concerned staff with the hardware and its possible uses;
  • Development of a master plan with detailed computer curriculum framework for elementary, middle and secondary levels. Set specific direction for preparing instructional training programmes for educators, trainees, etc;
  • Information and data involving computers should be directed specifically towards managing the activities of teachers and students (e.g. instructional management programmes, attendance, students’ assessment of academic progress, etc);
  • Information and data of different activities which support services to the classroom e.g. budgeting, student’s historical data, electronic mail etc., should be managed by computers;
  • Develop training courses in computer programming for teachers and teacher educators e.g. integrating LOGO, BASIC or other programming languages in the curriculum with a thrust on thinking skills (problem solving);
  • Develop programmes for the exposure of students and teachers in word processing, electronic spreadsheets an d database management;
  • Determine criteria for a periodic review of software programmes as they relate in the students’ learning principles in the master plan and skill sequencing.

Almost without exception, wherever in the world the scale of computer use Has gone beyond that of the first enthusiasts, the training of teachers is one-the main factors, perhaps the most important factor, in ensuring successful of the new technology, and of its teaching (Shah, 1989; Barta, 1985; Egerton, 1985; Hammond, 1985; Hebenstreit, 1980). In U.S.A. and other European countries, numerous studies have been conducted on computer education and they unanimously came to the conclusion that while the availability of quality software/courseware and number of computers in schools have increased, teachers still face problems in effectively using computers to enhance the learning outcomes of their students (Anderson & Smith, 1984; Federicks, 1984; Stanz et al, 1984; Killian, 1985; Rheingold et al, 1985).

With the growing demand and need for the use of computers in classroom instruction to make our future generations become quite competitive, we have to meet out the challenges to train teachers effectively. These teachers will make maximum use of computer technology and enhance the enthusiasm among their students for the same. Thus, question arises that what should be the training programme for teachers? and how it can be developed ? Before giving a thought to this, it is essential to give thoughts about the changes in teachers’ roles with the fast growing changes in education.

Changes in the Teachers’ Role

Following are some factors changing the teachers’ roles:

(a) Accountability: It is assumed that teachers are the benevolent transmitters of traditional culture. At present/ presides the responsibility of cognitive development of the pupil, socuhy requires that teachers should take the responsibilities of effective societal development. To be at par with the development rate in developed countries not only the competence of teachers is questioned but the present system of teaching as well. One of ti reasons for the backlash in education from those who criticized “modem education” is justifiable dislike of an extended role i n competency executed. Hence, they always demand for ‘back to the basics’ and support to follow traditional teaching methods. To promote necessary changes, the persons concerned with teacher education, have to play an important role. The paramount importance should be given to the teachers, researchers to find out the suitable objectives of education in present in formatted age, besides the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. So that, the research findings and their interpretations would be able to emphasize the need for much wider objectives and the need for introduction of new instructional technologies in teacher education programme.

(b) Quality and Standard : Now-a-days teaching online‘ role is not only to work as a trainer or instructor in the basic skills but also as an educator, enriching the children’s life across a wide range of worthwhile experiences. Even within the limitations of teachers’ role in facilitating the cognitive development of pupils, it can be demonstrated that an emphasis on traditional skills is not enough. For example, mastery of number bonds in Arithmetic, sooner or later becomes less important as compared to the knowledge of calculators, computers or some other aspects of the mathematics. However, it is equally important for teachers to extend their role into non-cognitive developmental areas also. It is much more difficult to know how to encourage social, emotional and aesthetic development, but these aspects of the teachers’ role are perhaps even more important.

(c) The Changing Curriculum: One difficult aspect of the teachers’ role is the ability to cope with the changes in curricula with time. There is always a tendency among teachers to teach whatever they were taught, using similar type of methods. Part of the task of teacher education is to equip teachers not only with the changes which already exist in schools but also with those which are yet to be envisaged. Generally, these changes are in three major areas – (i) technological, (ii) Pedagogical, and (iii) changes in curricular content.

(i) Technological Changes: Changes i n technology affect both contents of the curriculum and methodology of teaching. Teachers have to adapt new technology aids such as projectors, television, computers and interactive videodiscs, etc. In addition, they have to become sensitive to the fact that the ability of media, like radio and television in the children’s homes, makes important changes to the responsiveness of children i n the class. Teachers do not find themselves easily adjusted with new tasks and needs for continuing professional education (in-service training).

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(ii) Pedagogical changes. Teachers have to adapt their pedagogy or teaching style according to the changes in curricular content, in technology, in pupils and in the organization of the education system. Teachers often find it difficult to adjust with the new wide range of ability represented in their classes. They often complain that their training has not equipped them adequately to cope with such problems. Perhaps, the most obvious change in pedagogy is that the teachers have to learn to spend less time in lectures to the whole class and to become more skilled at small group interactions and monitoring the needs of individuals pupils. This has far reaching implications of teacher education and training programmes.

(iii) Changes in Curriculum Content: Part of teachers’ role is to keep them up-to-date with subject matter, to be conversant with curricular project materials and to be involved in the implementation of these projects. This kind of activity is not possible without proper teacher training programme as well as in-service education for teachers.

(d) Evaluation: Evaluation is an integral component of any education system. It is concerned with the feedback of information from the teaching-learning process to the teachers and students. The teachers evaluate/assess the performance of pupils of the task and then move on to the next task and review the effectiveness of the process when completed. In reality, evaluation part of the teaching process is highly neglected.

The evaluation includes standardized testing and examination. In order to be effective participants in these activities, the teachers should be properly trained. The professional training of teachers in evaluation involves a number of factors, skills and expertise. The role of teacher educator should include deep familiarity with tests, testing techniques and understanding of the difference between normative and summative evaluation and between norm­ referenced and criterion-referenced tests. Such changes in teachers role not only require new knowledge but also changes in attitude e.g. the change from norm-referenced to criterion-referenced involves a shift from an elitist view of education i n which rank ordering is the key to progress and development based on individual improvement in the achievement of essential objectives. The success in this kind of role-change is not possible without pre-service and in-service training programmes on computer managed instruction (Shah 1989).

Urgency of Changes in Teacher Training Programmes

The present teacher training programmes of our country are imparting some basic principles of theory and practice in equipping the young teachers for the immediate task of classroom management. It has been recognized by educationists that these initial courses of teacher preparation are not sufficient to meet out the challenges of the continuously changing society. Besides this, in-service education of teachers has been recognized as an essential feature of real professionalism and more serious thoughts are needed to introduce, continuing education for teacher professionalization. The concept of continuing professional education is also desired to be involved in a completely different view of the relationship between educational theory and practice by teaching online. At present, educational theory is considered to be an amalgamation of relevant aspects of theory derived from other disciplines­ philosophy, psychology and sociology. The educational theorists put together a collection of useful ideas and relating them with real education issues and problems, wherever possible, and then encourage teachers to put the principles into practice in the classrooms. This view of educational theory has not been found entirely successful. Recently, in a number of countries educational theory has been redefined on the basis of practice. According to this model, theory is derived from critical observations of teaching­ learning situations. Thus, changes in teacher-training programmes to fulfill their roles according to the present needs are essential before introducing computers in education system. In many countries after introduction of computers in education expanded its uses rapidly. In case, the same situation arises in our country the importance of a good plan for short-time, broadcast­ based in-service training cannot be over estimated.

Teacher Training Programme and Use of Computer Technology in Instruction

When we have to deal with the integration of computer use, handling of information and communication technologies within the teaching-learning process and educational administration, following points may be kept in view :

  • The non formal aspects of the teacher’s role are as much important as the formal one, or sometimes ever more. Therefore, this is a vital element in training and requires more emphasis than it had until recently.
  • The present professional courses comprise of some psychological, sociological, philosophical and administrative studies accompanied by an analysis of current educational problems. Now it is required that the training courses should form a coherent programme of study and be explicitly concerned with the classroom and professional needs of the teacher. As the culture of school and society are also changing rapidly, the teacher education requires considerable amount of classroom experiences too.
  • The computers can enhance learning through various ways such as simulation, drill games, word processors, databases, spread sheets; specific professional software packages, electronic mail etc., as part of teaching/learning activities and ways for collecting and interpreting data about the achievement of individual students. For these, teachers have to make a detailed study about materials and methodologies related specifically to their subject. Through training, teachers should be able to evaluate course materials for selecting an appropriate software suitable to the needs of their students and even be able to design and prepare software’s for their use.
  • Knowledge and practical use of educational administrative packages, mainly those permitting the follow-up and interpretation of students’ achievements, are the principal issues to be considered in the training programme of teachers. The correct use of these packages may immensely enhance the structure and methods of teaching in the school.
  • Introduction to computers and their applications to education should be obligatory to every student teacher.
  • Apart from the introductory obligatory courses, advanced ones as well as facility to organize seminars and to conduct projects should be offered by the Ministry of HRD/Science and Technology, to those interested in further exploration of educational computing.
  • Training for computers in education cannot be theoretical. An institute cannot teach by conventional means how to integrate advanced technologies into the training process. Teacher training colleges should provide an example of how this integration is to be accomplished.
  • Teachers should be encouraged to use word processing in language and composition class, data-base programmes in social studies, spread sheets in mathematics, graphic and multimedia software’s in science, mathematics and social studies.
  • Some universities/colleges may be oriented towards specific courses, such as, teaching of computer science or computer 1iteracy, coordination of school educational computing activities and school educational administration. Such specialization courses may be of 1 to 3 years.
  • Teachers’ training colleges should also provide in-service teacher training courses of 3 to 6 months for computers in education to train the teachers working in their surrounding schools and at the same time be prepared to encourage some of their already trained teachers for further instruction and advice (continuous teacher training programme).
  • Necessary training programme for use of computers in classroom instruction is to be prepared first for the teacher educators. Without this, success is doubtful, even if the teacher training colleges are highly enthusiastic about providing all or most of the programs related to use of the computers in education system.
  • For successful development of course contents for teacher training, the experiences of other countries may be kept in view, e.g. CATTS (Computer Assisted Teacher Training System).
  • For effective implementation of computer technology in the school, a dedicated coordinator for all computing activities is required. The major responsibilities of the coordinator may be-

(i)            To help in planning equipment, purchase and layout,

(ii)           To advise the management and educational administrative staff.

(iii)          To schedule the activities for keeping the system in u e effectively. There should be a well organized training plan, such as,

(i)            The specific needs of the education system.

(ii)           The selection criteria of pupil teachers.

(iii)          The anticipated types of activities.

(iv)         The desired rate of implementation,

(v)          Possibilities for the training, etc.

Thus, the introduction of computers in education is not a quick and easy path to follow. But to be at par with the developed countries we cannot afford to ignore its importance in education. If we want successful introduction of this technology in education, a more comprehensive plan is needed to be developed to give the practical knowledge of basic skills to operate the equipment, understanding of basic principles and awareness of main applications, ability to design and prepare software, etc. to the teacher educators in the first instance. It is difficult to equip all the colleges with computers. Some universities may be selected in each state in the first phase of the plan and within a span of 5-10 years, it can be made obligatory for all universities to introduce computer-instruction courses at graduate and postgraduate teacher education curriculum.

Thus, the introduction of training and further training in educational technology is obviously a considerable step forward in disseminating the pedagogical culture. Unanimously it is accepted that teacher is the most determining factor in the implementation of any new technology. Therefore, the development of the teachers’ personality presupposes a very careful, many-sided coordinated activity.

Thus, there is a need to enlarge teacher’s role and develop the necessary expertise, knowledge and skills. There is also a need for the development of a partnership model for teacher education in which practicing teachers play an important role in the selection, assessment and training of student teachers. To make this operational, it is important for educational planners to develop skills of cultural analysis in order to map out changes which are both desirable and necessary (Shah 1987, 1989 a). The teaching profession, as a whole should develop the ability to adjust to these changes, and teacher educators should be able to anticipate changes and modify their education and training process/programmes accordingly.

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