Using Technologies to Reduce Unequal Access in Teacher Training
This paper describes how technologies can be used to reduce the unequal access in teacher training in the context of an emerging economy like India. Data were collected from the large-scale synchronous distance mode teacher training workshops for engineering college teachers, undertaken by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), under the National Mission on Education through ICT from the year 2009 to 2013. The goal of these synchronous workshops is to improve the quality of teaching in higher education by training a large number of teachers in a short time. Unequal access and inability to improve outreach have remained as major constraints in conventional approach to teacher training, Statistical analysis of data about the beneficiaries and their feedback on training indicate that outreach of these workshops was good in terms of the number of participants, number of cities/towns, and number of states and colleges covered. Also, inclusivity in terms of gender, age group, location and educational qualification were well achieved, which usually is very difficult to achieve in a conventional face-to-face training. We compared the gender, age group, educational qualification and location of participating teachers in three workshops in the area of Computer science and engineering (CS) and three workshops in the area of Mechanical engineering (ME). The results indicate a clear difference in terms of gender, age and educational qualifications in CS and ME workshops. The comparison of results of Database Management System and Thermodynamics workshops after scaling up the number of participants show that there was not much change in the demography of the participants due to scale up. However, we observed that as the number of remote centres increased, the number of participants from rural colleges also increased, thus, reducing the gap between the urban and rural college teachers. Thus, by using technology one can reduce the unequal access in teacher training and teaching material.
KeywordsICT enabled workshops Synchronous teacher training Educational technology Engineering education
The authors wish to thank Prof. D.B. Phatak for allowing them to carry out the survey. The financial support for conducting the workshop was made available by a grant from the National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT), Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi. The e-learning software AVIEW, also supported by NMEICT, was provided by the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kollam, Kerala. An earlier version of this paper was presented in a workshop ‘Harnessing Technology for Challenging Inequality’ of Knowledge Forum held at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai on 7 March 2015. We are grateful to Professors. N.S. Siddharthan, Y.S. Rajan, S. Baskaran and Kannan Moudgalya for their useful comments and suggestions.
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