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Jul-Sep-2018 Pedagogies

Training Teachers through MOOCs

Dr Sridhar Iyer
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A MOOC IS A FREE ONLINE COURSE OFFERED FOR AN UNLIMITED NUMBER OF PEOPLE

Lack of adequate focus on student-centric teaching practices in teacher-training programs is often regarded as the prime reason for the poor quality of education in India. Teachers are expected to teach students of the present generation, who are well versed in technology from a very early age, with very little or absolutely no training in technology. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) can address this gap in pedagogic practices. These courses supplement traditional teacher-training courses and equip teachers with the necessary technological edge that help them deal better with the learning requirements of students of the 21st century.

WHAT IS MOOC?

As the name suggests, a MOOC is a free online course offered for an unlimited number of people. In addition to traditional course materials, such as filmed lectures, readings and problem sets, MOOCs also provide interactive user forums to support interactions among students, professors and teaching assistants.

MOOCS FOR SCHOOL TEACHERS

The Faculty of Educational Technology at IIT Bombay has designed two MOOCs, Pedagogy for Effective Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for school teachers and Pedagogy for Effective Teaching–learning of Computer Science (CS) in Schools. The courses are available at the IITBombayX MOOC platform. Next Education has sponsored the design of these courses. These MOOCs , have been designed as learner-centric courses, and the course material contains:

i. short instructional clips interleaved with activity questions.

ii. an array of resources that demonstrate how to apply the concepts taught in real classrooms.

iii. learning activities that provide formative feedback to the learner.

iv. forums for learners to interact and share their experience.

v. quizzes to assess their learning. Each course spans for a period of four weeks.

Each course spans for a period of four weeks. They will benefit in-service school teachers to gain knowledge on effective integration of ICT tools in their teaching practices. These courses will also benefit students pursuing higher education who aspire to become teachers. B.Ed. students can also join these capacity building courses.

WHY ARE MOOCS IMPORTANT?

There are research-based evidences which show that lectures or demonstrations that uses Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools are not effective enough for learning, especially if the teacher’s objective is to build higher-order thinking skills in students. Instead, students learn effectively only when they perform carefully-designed group activities in class using technology, get immediate feedback on their work and when the assessment is well aligned to the stated learning objectives. MOOCs equip teachers with the required expertise on these teaching strategies, which, in turn, help them engage students effectively and achieve the stated learning objectives.

GOALS OF THE COURSES

The course on the use of ICT would help teachers to adopt student-centric approaches while using ICT tools in their teaching practices and also, help them align assessments and activities better with the learning objectives using such tools. It would also help them to identify various ICT tools that they can integrate in their teaching practices. The course on teaching- learning Computer Science would help teachers to facilitate the learning of computational thinking and help them adopt relevant teaching-learning practices to achieve this goal. These courses would also develop a collaborative community of teachers for sharing their experiences and best practices.

MOOCs have the potential to revolutionise the teacher-training programs in India. Given the dearth of student-centric teacher-training courses on the usage of ICT in teaching practices, this is an opportunity for aspiring and present teachers to enhance their pedagogic skills.

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Dr Sridhar Iyer
Dr Sridhar Iyer

Prof Sridhar Iyer’s current research interests are in the field of Educational Technology, which includes technology-enhanced learning environments for thinking skills, pedagogies for effective use of educational technologies, development of ICT tools for educational applications, and Computer Science education research. Prior to Educational Technology, he has worked on wireless networking protocols and mobile applications. Sridhar Iyer received his B.Tech., M.Tech. and PhD from the Dept. of Computer Science & Engg. at IIT Bombay.

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