1 What technology and skills do you have access to?
‘Technology’ includes a large range of different devices such as desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, projectors, printers, scanners, digital cameras and so on. Some of these can be used on their own, with appropriate software; others can be connected to the internet. In the future, it is likely that phones and tablets will be more readily available than conventional desktop or laptop computers, and so it makes sense to plan around this emerging trend. As a school leader you should try to increase your awareness of technological developments and how they can be harnessed to enhance learning so that you can look for opportunities to provide access to these technologies in your school.
The internet is an immensely powerful resource. Having access to the internet in a school can make an enormous difference to the opportunities available to teachers and students. Even if the internet is not available in school, some of the benefits can be realised by using to devices that can be connected to the internet elsewhere in order to download materials that can then be used offline.
Although the internet is not currently widely available outside the metropolitan areas in India, this will change over time, with mobile devices rapidly offering greater reach and capabilities.
Teachers’ ICT knowledge and skills
In 2013 the Central Institute of Educational Technology (at NCERT) developed an ICT curriculum and training programme for teachers. It identified that teachers should be able to:
- use ICT tools, software applications and digital resources effectively
- integrate ICT into teaching, learning and evaluation
- acquire, organise and create digital resources
- participate in teachers’ networks
- evaluate and select resources
- know the practical, safe, ethical and legal ways of using ICT
- use ICT for making classrooms more inclusive.
UNESCO has also developed an ICT competency framework for teachers – see the references section for more details.
Case Study 1: What technology do teachers currently use?
Mr Mohanty has been teaching for 20 years, and been the school leader for ten. This term he has two new young teachers. Last week he went into the staffroom and found them gathered around a mobile phone! Initially, he was a bit irritated, so he went over to see what all the fuss was about – but he soon realised that he should be using the technological know-how and devices of his young staff to improve learning.
Ms Bhatia has a smartphone and had downloaded a film from YouTube. When I asked what was so interesting, they showed me the film. It was a clip of Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon. They were interested because the Indian mission to Mars had been in the news recently, and they were too young to remember when man first walked on the Moon.
I happened to know that Class IX had been studying gravitation that term, and it suddenly occurred to me how good it would be to be able to show them the film. I talked to the young teachers about how they use their phones – they seem to be on the internet all the time, but they hadn’t really thought about how they could use the internet in their teaching. I encouraged them to show the film to their students in small groups while the rest of the class was engaged in another task related to the topic. The encounter made me realise how little I really know about the internet, and how much potential there might be.
Case Study 1 raises the issue of using mobile phones in school. Some state governments actively discourage the use of mobile phones in school, and it is clearly unprofessional for a teacher to take phone calls or send text messages while they are teaching. However, as mobile phones become more powerful, it is perhaps appropriate to consider how teachers could use them to support learning in their classroom. But this is an issue that you may need to approach with caution. Talk to your teachers and make it clear that they all understand the importance of professionalism, but be flexible enough to help them use their phones for the benefit of their students.
Activity 1: Carrying out a technology audit
The purpose of this activity is for you to begin to think about how technology might be used effectively in your school and to find out what technology teachers in your school are using in their daily lives, and maybe in their teaching.
- Ask your teachers to complete the questionnaire in Resource 1.
- In your Learning Diary, use the answers in the questionnaire to make a summary of the main problems and concerns that your teachers have about their work, the technology that they use in their daily lives and the technological skills that they currently have.
- For each of the main problems and concerns, think of a way in which access to technology could contribute to a solution. Resource 2 has some suggestions.
- Which pieces of technology do you think could make the greatest impact on teaching and learning in your school?
Some of your teachers will be confident in their use of technology. Some will be extremely competent. There will also be some who have limited opportunities to access technology and relatively few skills, but are confident to try. There will be some, however, who lack confidence and give up easily when they encounter difficulties. Your role is to create an environment in which teachers can learn from each other and become confident in their use of technology.
The questionnaire will give you an idea of how close your teachers are to this aspiration. It may also enable you to identify an ICT ‘champion’ – a teacher who is a confident user of ICT who will be able to help you to influence the others.
Case Study 2: Using a laptop and a projector
School leader Mrs Mehta explains how she uses her laptop in school and gets access to the internet to download resources and information.
My laptop is my most treasured possession! I use it all the time. I can connect to the internet at my friend’s house and download materials that I can use in school. Sometimes I go to a hotel in the town centre and pay for internet access for an hour. Last week I downloaded a cartoon in English to show to Class V.
I used to put the laptop on a table and get them to sit on the floor to watch, but last term, I managed to persuade the Rotary Club in the town to donate Rs. 30,000 for computer equipment. I spent it on a projector and a set of loudspeakers. We all watched the cartoon, but I realised that they could not understand the English accent and that the speech was too fast for them. So we watched the cartoon with no sound and tried to work out what the story was about. Having done that, I introduced some of the key words that came up frequently in the story. I played the cartoon again and we played ‘Spot the Word’. I have found that it is helpful for students to be able to listen to people speaking English – it has helped their pronunciation and their understanding.
I have two other teachers in the school and now I want to help them to use the laptop in their lessons too so that they gain skills and confidence in using technology, as well as broadening their use of teaching resources. Initially they have been watching my lessons, but they are already asking me to find specific resources that they might use, for example on pollution.
This case study shows how the innovations and excitement of technology can be brought into school by accessing and downloading resources from the internet and then playing them in school. Mrs Mehta invested in some equipment (a laptop, speakers and projector) that she then used to enhance student learning in English. The students not only benefit from the downloaded resources, but also from exposure to the hardware and equipment on which they are played. Notice how the school leader is not only focusing on her students but also on the development needs of her staff, building capacity so that more students benefit.