Delhi does well to move on digital training of teachers
The Financial Express
The Delhi State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT) has the right idea in pushing for training teachers via the digital route. An expansion of both the scope and content, from the current digitally-mediated training, is proposed. From just curriculum specific training in mathematics, science and English for ninth and tenth grade at the moment, the SCERT is planning to include both curricular and off-curriculum training of teachers. The new digital training universe will include mathematics training for teachers teaching grades IV & V, and curriculum-specific modules across subjects at the senior secondary level. In a view to make training more holistic, modules approved by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority, on child sexual abuse and corporal punishment, will also be part of the package. The assessment, too, will be digital—teachers must score a minimum of 40% marks on modules to receive certification. The SCERT’s vision complements the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan’s focus on improving learning outcomes in state-run schools by strengthening technological infrastructure while making the training of educators more regular and rigorous.
Digital training offers two significant advantages—it circumvents the hurdle of inadequate infrastructure (space, manpower) to conduct broad-based training of teachers, and allows teachers to access training content without disrupting their routine work, which, given the vacancies in government schools, is crucial. Indeed, completing the training is estimated to take 10-15 working hours, and teachers are required to complete the training in 15-20 days. Given an app-based platform allows for greater personal engagement than congregation-based training in the physical world—at the moment, it is envisaged that the training will reach 7,000-8,000 teachers concurrently—and peer engagement is facilitated by digital teachers’ chaupal, the quality of training impact is likely to be higher. Besides, the fact that the training modules have teaching resources such as videos on specific topics, it is also a step towards greater penetration of computer-aided classroom learning.
Some see digital training as a supplement, and not a substitute, to face-to-face training today. And, there are concerns that a one-size-fits-all approach that comes with digital training may fail to address the varying learning needs of teachers, especially on something as sensitive as dealing with child sexual abuse. But, refining the peer-based interaction on the go and using machine learning and AI to personalise/customise training modules could help solve these problems. The ideal balance, no doubt, is seamless deployment of technology to help train educators instead of sole dependence on it—a good example of this would be the monthly two-day videoconferencing programme organised in Rajasthan, attended by lakhs of teachers across thousands of schools, where discussions between experts and educationists on activity-based learning strategies have helped improve both pedagogy and learning outcomes. The merits of digital-aided training far outweigh the misgivings about it.