2 Technology for your personal use
Access to the internet makes knowledge and training much more accessible to everyone in different places, so that teachers don’t have to travel to the DIET, etc. Teachers and school leaders are now in a much better position to take charge of their own learning, which is very helpful when modelling this behaviour to their students.
The first step in taking charge of your own professional development, and encouraging your teachers to do the same, is to explore the resources that are freely available on the internet. You should share those that are helpful and extract any elements that can be recycled in your own context.
TESS-India has produced 125 open education resources (OERs) with and for teachers and school leaders in India. These resources are free and have a Creative Commons licence, which means that you can download them, change them and make as many copies as you like. They are therefore very accessible and are highly adaptable – you can make them fit your context and needs. The TESS-India OERs are probably a good place to start in your search to find other suitable OERs, as they have been approved by an international review panel for quality.
Activity 2: Exploring OERs
Next time you have access to the internet, explore some OERs.
- Look at the Key Resources document available on the TESS-India website ( ). Choose two or three that cover issues that you would like to tackle in your school. Find at least two teacher development OERs (in maths, science, English, or language and literacy) that would help teachers to implement the approaches described in the Key Resources document in their classrooms.
- Make a plan in your Learning Diary for sharing these materials with your teachers. For example, if they have email addresses, you could send them a link; alternatively, you could download a resource onto your laptop and sit with one teacher to show them.
- Explore some of the other OERs available on the internet. Resource 3 has some suggestions of websites that you might try.
- For each website, take a critical look at the resources. Resource 3 has a checklist that you could use in order to decide if the resources might be helpful for your school.
OERs are resources that are designed to be used flexibly so they can be adapted for a variety of uses and purposes. You can ‘pick and mix’ resources and ideas from the OERs you find to meet your own needs. It is important to take a critical view of these resources and evaluate their quality, as the global freedom to write and publish on the internet means that anyone can produce and publish an OER.
Case Study 3 describes how a young school leader, Mrs Aparajeeta, used the internet to teach herself new skills that she used in her school to make the curriculum more relevant to her students. Case Study 4 shows how Mr Kapur used his computer and the internet to help with the administrative challenges of being a school leader.
Case Study 3: Mrs Aparajeeta uses the internet to build her knowledge and skills
Ravinda works in an elementary school about 35km from the nearest town.
I love working in my school, but it is a long way from the facilities of the city and in a different state from where I grew up. I have chosen to live in the city and travel to school by bus every day – this is so I can have access to the internet in the city. I have a laptop that I use all the time!
When I joined the school four years ago, there were 69 students on the role and attendance was around 40 per cent. I went to talk to the families and found out that the children were bored at school – they could not see the relevance of what they were learning to their lives. I decided to change the timetable and introduced two activity periods each day, after assembly and after lunch.
There is a strong tradition of art and craft in the village, so I used the internet to learn more about the traditions in this part of India and the skills required. Using films on YouTube, I taught myself the skills and devised some projects for the children to undertake in the activity periods. The activity periods are popular. There are now 257 students on the role and attendance is 90 per cent – and I am an expert in art and craft, despite never having studied it before!
Case Study 4: Mr Kapur uses his laptop to help him in his role as a school leader
Mr Kapur is a school leader at a small rural secondary school with nine teachers. He has his own laptop.
When I started as a school leader, I was surprised by the amount of administration that I had to do. The office was full of files and it was difficult to keep track of everything. I had my own laptop, and could access the internet at my friend’s house. I wanted to find ways of using my computer to help me with the administration. I decided to use a spreadsheet to keep track of all the data generated by the teachers.
First, I had to learn to use a spreadsheet. We have now reached the stage where I have taught my teachers to enter all the end-of-topic test scores into a spreadsheet on my computer. I can manipulate the figures, calculate averages and plot graphs. As a result of this analysis, I have discovered there is a huge difference in the test scores when the science teachers are teaching outside their specialism.
I have two science teachers: one studied physical science and the other studied life sciences, but they both have to teach the whole syllabus. I had found some materials online that explained scientific ideas very clearly. Last week I taught their classes and lent each teacher my laptop for an hour. I had downloaded some videos and simulations that went beyond what they could read in the textbooks. I showed them how to operate the mouse and open and close files, and asked them to explore the materials. Both of them said they felt better equipped to teach the next topic. They both wanted to borrow my laptop so they could show some of the simulations to their class.
Activity 3: Thinking about your own learning needs
Think critically about your own ICT skills. What skills would you like to develop? How could you develop these skills – is there a teacher who could help you?
Using everything you have read in this unit so far, think about how you could use the following to support you in your role as school leader or in your own professional development:
- a laptop with word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programmes
- a laptop with a wifi connection to the internet
- a mobile phone without internet access
- a smartphone
- a tablet
- an LCD projector.
In your Learning Diary, make a ‘wish list’ of equipment that you would like in your school. Look at the costs associated with everything on your wish list. Now think about your network and your community. Are there any groups of people who could help you acquire some of this equipment? You can use this initial list to help you fundraise and look for suppliers in a targeted way.
Technology can support you in your daily role by making administrative tasks easier and more efficient. For example, by carrying out a more sophisticated analysis of test scores, Mr Kapur in Case Study 4 was able to identify a problem and start to work on a solution.
The internet is a source of information and materials for professional development. There are materials that will support your own learning and resources to support and train your own teachers, rather than relying on a suitable training course becoming available.
When you consider the hardware that you might like, you also need to consider the maintenance demands and costs. It is therefore important to have a budget and include people who can service your equipment in it.
This section has highlighted the potential for technology for your personal use – harnessing the opportunity to learn new skills, provide new tools and find free educational materials. Other possible uses for technology by you could include:
- taking photographs of students’ work in order to encourage peer review or show to parents
- taking a video of your school to publicise the work you do and show to potential financial donors
- joining online networks to communicate and collaborate with other school leaders
- producing documents and presentations about your school for the school management committee (SMC)
- keeping up-to-date with current developments in education and finding out how others tackle problems
- motivating your teachers to develop new skills
- using text messages to communicate with your teachers.