The Department of Public Instruction, Government of Karnataka and Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, have initiated an ICT programme for all the high schools of the state. This entire programme, including the classroom training, has been outsourced. However, our research suggests that vendors are finding it challenging to impart an ICT based education in the schools.
In the absence of teacher capacity building, the program was largely restricted to the vendor faculty teaching basic computer literacy to students. Based on our request to DSERT to build the capacity of teacher-educators, and based on feedback from the successful pilot, DSERT invited us to train DIET faculty on the same platform so that they could, in turn, train other school teachers across the state. Approximately a hundred DIET faculty across Karnataka were trained to install and use public software (Free and Open Source Software) platform and tools and were also provided CD ROMs with the software resources, which is not possible with proprietary software. Many of the DIET faculty were able to install this software in their offices. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) provided support including computer lab facilities and DSERT coordinated the programme along with the Policy Planning Unit (PPU) of the Education Department. This was followed by the PPU organising workshops to train 120 government teacher educators’ from DIETs and BRCs, as 'Master Trainers on Public Software educational tools' with resource support from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Azim Premji Foundation, infrastructure support from RV College of Engineering and faculty from IT for Change and RV Educational Consortium.
For a one page report on this workshop on FOSS educational tools, click here.
The training program on public software education platforms were well received by the teachers, debunking the myth that teachers are unable or unwilling to learn ICTs. These programmes also helped us to develop a better understanding of teachers' needs and expectations. Teachers are keen to learn computers and adapt it to their teaching-learning, however vendor driven models bypass teachers. Likewise teacher-educators who are responsible to provide academic support to teachers or monitor the programmers are not able to do so, since they are also left out in the outsourced model. While many of the DIET faculty are inhibited when it comes to using computers due to a high degree of unfamiliarity, such inhibitions would make the adoption of ICTs by teacher-educators, and their support to teachers on ICT based learning in schools, difficult.
These two capacity building programmes prove that there is no need for the education system to depend on technology vendors for organizing capacity building on ICTs. Once the basic infrastructure of computer labs is created, the department can internally organize a large number of capacity building programmes and enable teachers and schools to integrate ICT into the school's academic processes.