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Based on a research carried out by Lesan Azadi, Director, Bahá’í Academy (Panchgani) Kavita Salunke, Assistant Professor, Yashwantrao.

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Presentation on theme: "Based on a research carried out by Lesan Azadi, Director, Bahá’í Academy (Panchgani) Kavita Salunke, Assistant Professor, Yashwantrao."— Presentation transcript:

1 Based on a research carried out by Lesan Azadi, Director, Bahá’í Academy (Panchgani) Kavita Salunke, Assistant Professor, Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (Nashik) 1

2 This mode allows teachers to work with students without regular personal meetings. The approach taken in the e-B.Ed is based on capability building and co-creativity processes, using cooperative learning/working. Hence it is both curriculum based, and life/work centric - - following a learning/developing path - - and its goal is to enable a learner to ‘form, reform and transform’ oneself, and one’s group to perform together. 2

3 This presentation is based on the feedback from the course designers, the local mentors and the students who share their experiences regarding the strengths and the weaknesses of this approach -- both teaching and scaffolding, and their recommendations on how differently the course may be designed for greater success. 3

4 I-CONSENT (Indian Consortium For Educational Transformation) Founding members: Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) Shivaji University MKCL Bahá’í Academy NETRA Network for Educational Transformation Indian Institute of Education, Pune 4

5 The Bahá’í Academy ( offers courses on Fostering Personal Development and Social Progress to a number of reputed universities, including YCMOU, and their affiliated colleges in Maharashtra and 5

6 The programme of Bachelor of e-education called e-B.Ed is designed as a new educational paradigm for a connected society in which learning working developing is integrated. The programme is offered through online as well as study centres. The programme is based on constructivist theory of education employing situated based design. 6

7 Six Courses of the e-B.Ed programme: 1) Teacher as a Nurture of e-culture 2) teacher as a change agent and network 3) Teacher as an e-learning specialist 4) Teacher as an e- learning Resource Developer 5) Teacher as a content Based Techno pedagogic 6) Teacher as an Action Researcher and Evaluator. 7

8 One of the goals of the programme was to help students develop their value system, core values mentioned in the preamble of the Indian constitution, in activities and programmes, and contributing to develop a society based on equality, justice and universal human values. 8

9 “Developing moral capabilities is the concern of those whose lives are governed by a moral purpose. In this age of transition, moral purpose must be focused on two paramount tasks: growing intellectually and spiritually as an individual and contributing to the transformation of society.” (FUNDAEC, 2003, p.15) 9

10 According to Ramamurti Committee (1990), “Education must provide a climate for the nurture of values, both as a personalised set of values, forming one’s character and including necessarily social, cultural and national values, so as to have a context and meaning for actions and decisions, and in order to enable the persons to act with conviction and commitment”. 10

11 And Chattopadhyay Commission, 1985, has stated, “We underscore that the primary task of the teacher is concerned with man-making, namely the making of the Indian of tomorrow”. 11

12 Other Features of The e-B.Ed Programme In this regard the e-B.Ed programme aimed at bridging this important void that vastly existed in the other teacher education programmes available in the country. Hence one of the three components of the first course focused on cooperative and collaborative learning and working and building moral capabilities. 12

13 The programme was offered on-line, using a network of study/access centres, and appropriate ICT facilities. Distributed Classroom sessions (DCs) involved audio graphic and video inputs, group discussions and co- operative and collaborative learning activities. At the study centre mentors were present for guidance; library resources, infrastructure facilities were provided as support system. 13

14 Blended learning encompassed a broad continuum, and included of face to face and online instructional content. The blend of face to face and online material varied depending on the content, the need of the students, and the preferences of the instructor. Blended learning increased the options for greater quality and quantity of human interaction in learning environment. 14

15 In this course blended learning offered learners the opportunity “to be both together and apart” It provided a good mix of technologies and interactions, resulting in a socially supported constructivist learning experience. This was especially significant given the profound effect that it could have on distance learning. 15

16 In this course the Tutor began a course with a well structured introductory lesson in the classroom and then proceeded with follow up materials online. Here blended learning also applied to the integration of e-learning with Learning Management System using computers in a physical classroom, along with face to face instruction. 16

17 Here the role of Tutor was critical to assist students with computer skill and applications, help them access the internet and encourage them to be independent learners. 17

18 For this course we used both synchronous (real time) and asynchronous (different time) mode. Synchronous mode was used at the time of Distributed Classroom, otherwise it was asynchronous mode, meaning that the instructor and the learner are available at different times -- a benefit of self-directed blended learning solution. 18

19 Our Learning: 19

20 Collaborative and Cooperative Learning: Learners learn from one another with deeper understanding & feel better about themselves. Learners always interact with each other Cooperative learning can be used successfully with a variety of other teaching strategies Learners learn valuable social skills, e.g. problem solving, critical thinking, asking questions, giving direction to the group work, resolving conflict etc. They learn communication and leadership. They enjoy the work and actively involve in the learning. They learns the content joyfully without stress. They enhance their higher order cognitive skills. Finally students’ academic success and information retention increase. 20

21 Course Design: Situated Learning Design and Constructivist Approach: All the courses of e-B.Ed followed Situated Learning Design with Constructivist approach. This was welcomed by all the stakeholders who felt that in this approach students learning were more effective. At the initial stages of the program students were asked to identify their own situations which they wanted to improve—situations such as classroom, school/ institutions, or community. 21

22 Learning: This has been one of the greatest strengths of the program which makes it useful to many categories of learners not just school teachers. This approach has enabled learners from diverse educational and professional background to adopt the approach according to their social context. Nevertheless some believe that at times the course should target a particular group, like teachers, so that they can fetch good jobs after completing the programme. 22

23 Mentor’s Training on Cooperative Learning: Using cooperative learning in F2F sessions and online was at times a challenge because of lack familiarity of the Study Centre mentors with each strategy. However some simple structures such as Pair Discussion and Team Work were used in both modes. Although initially it was suggested that ERA, the LMS provided by MKCL, should have a number discussion forums to enable each team of the students to use its own forum, this did not happen. So the students made their own arrangements such as E-mail etc. to carry out team activities. 23

24 Learning: To effectively implement Cooperative Learning arrangements should be made in advance to train the local mentors as well as provide suitable forums in the LMS. Both mentors and learners should be made aware of the different online social platforms that can be adopted to interact and learn cooperatively. 24

25 Moreover students should be given one or more task initially to learn a topic via coop. learning structures, like think pair-discussion share, in study centres in the presence of the mentor to master the structure and make it more effective. 25

26 Collaborative Learning and Working: Students enjoyed completing tasks in collaboration with one another. However it was learned that in some cases not all group members would complete tasks assigned to them, so there would be more workload on fewer active students. 26

27 Learning: Tasks should be distributed in a group as per each student’s liking and ability. After defining the responsibilities of each group member a monitoring arrangement should observe and record how each group member fulfils his/her part. 27

28 Cooperative Games: As an element of experiential learning Module ‘B’ of course 1 contained a number of cooperative and educational games. In some cases students were asked to carry out the games with their friends or family members whereas in some cases it was felt that the games should be carried out during the contact sessions. 28

29 Learning: Feedback from the students indicate that group activities enhanced learner participation during these programmes and although they enjoyed the games that were played outside the contact sessions, these games would be more successful in fulfilling their objectives if they were carried out in Study Centres in the presence of mentors. 29

30 Learning Activities for Skill Development: At the time of designing the Courses the teams were permitted to include as many learning activities as they wished. The purpose was that students would receive feedback from the course tutor to improve their performance. The large number of learning activities posed problem for the students as they did not find time to complete the activities; even the tutors who did not find time to comment on them. Subsequently it was announced that submitting learning activities was not mandatory for the students. In the revision of the Courses the number of learning activities were reduced. 30

31 Learning: While designing the courses, the exact number of hours required by the student to complete a course need to be calculated according to the capabilities of the average students who may have a number of challenges ; e.g. language difficulties, technological issues, accessibility to the materials, etc. The learners undertaking online course are required to possess the ability to be self-regulated and intrinsically motivated. Similarly tutors are required to provide timely feedback and, while designing learning activities they should be able to assess the average time learners can devote for a selected activity in order to ascertain the selected learning outcome is accomplished. 31

32 Assignments For Demonstrating Skills And Abilities: A similar problem existed for the assessable assignments too. Subsequently it was decided that each course should have only one assignment that may have a few of sub points. 32

33 Practical Activities For Skill Development: The course included certain practical activities for developing skills by the students. For example one activity was to promote gender equality among one’s extended family members or institution/community. Reports received from the students were encouraging as they could carry out these assignments in a variety of situations. 33

34 Learning: Practical activities are welcomed all the time by the students. The practical activities carried out during the contact sessions after the DCs have also been well received and completed by the students. 34

35 ‘Service Learning Activities’ For Capability Building And Creating Social Common Wealth: In addition to Learning Outcomes, all the courses had Developmental Outcomes too. In this course students were asked to design and carry out community projects called Service Learning Activities. Students were free to have individual projects or work together as a group. As a result students identified their own situations to improve through their Service Learning Activities. Feedback received from the students indicated that they had learned a lot from both their practical and their Service Learning Activities. In fact some considered Module B to be a turning point in their life. 35

36 Learning: Service Learning Activities play a major role in developing students’ capabilities and motivating them to engage in rendering meaningful community services. The choice by the student to select his/her situation-- community, school or classroom etc -- made the service learning activities more successful. Also at the same time freedom to choose the issues on which they wanted to work passionately, like gender equality for community, made it more successful. 36

37 Clarity And Simplicity Of Language: The language issue posed a challenge to the students who said that in certain courses the assignments were ambiguous, instructions were not communicated clearly, questions were not comprehensible enough, or sometimes they felt parts of the assignments were not related to the course as concepts were not explained before. After communicating the problem to the concerned course-teams certain clarifications were provided to the students that helped some of them. A number of students who came from the vernacular background had the difficulty to understand the reference material that they felt was too hard to grasp. Those who studied in groups were able to overcome this problem, but there were some who did not. 37

38 Learning: Checking the content, including the activities and assignments, as well as uniformity of the format of all the courses before uploading them on the course LMS is highly essential. In that connection a group of three team leaders have been identified to take care of this matter for the subsequent launch of the programme. In case of hard language used in some of the study materials, simplified version of the same material or other teaching aids, such a spoken tutorials and a lexicon of hard words, have been prepared to be provided to the next batch of the students. Indeed prior to launching of any programme in full scale, a pilot study can be carried to check the quality and validity of the programme developed. 38

39 Essential Readings: In their eagerness to provide students with more knowledge of the course content, in at least one course students were given too many references as their essential reading, a total of about 350 pages for about 3 credit-points. Some of these references were rare and since they were copyrighted it was not possible to photocopy and distribute them among the students. Hence in most cases students could not study all those pages and had to depend on fewer other learning resources that were provided of ERA or could be shared through email for that particular course. 39

40 Learning: A good learning from this problem was that we should identify the minimum required essential readings and try to find suitable OERs for as many components of the course as possible. This is now being considered by the course-teams when designing their courses. 40

41 Distributed Classrooms (DCs): Software and issue in Internet connectivity: SABA, a localized LMS platform, was used for interactivity during DCs that would normally be held every 2 or 3 weeks. On an average each course had about 3-4 DCs. Unfortunately during the DC sessions the Internet connectivity wasn’t always smooth due to the diverse internet facilities available among the students. This problem was especially greater for those who accessed the Internet from home. Their facilities ranged from simple dial-up to broad band kind. At times audio was not heard or students could not come online. 41

42 Learning: Since DCs play an important role in their blended mode used here care should be taken that the software used should be user-friendly and efficient and Internet connection should be reliable. 42

43 Some students believe that having the video along with the audio, if connectivity was smooth, would have made the DCs more effective. In any case every DC session could be recorded and be made easily available to the students - - may be through YouTube - - for future use so that students who are unable to attend the DC don’t miss the lectures; other technological issues, like internet connectivity or power cut, could also be taken care in this way. 43

44 Another important learning about making DCs more effective was to communicate in advance to all the students and mentors the timetable for the DC and the handouts that would be discussed in the DC. Whenever this was done the DC would be more fruitful and activities carried out properly. In fact a well planned DC can ensure that the lectures and presentations in the DC would relate to the activities and assignments students are supposed to undertake in the next few weeks. 44

45 It is also necessary that after the DC session, tutor should remain in touch with the students who had difficulties during the session through email, Discussion Forum and other means to ensure that no student has missed the opportunity to benefit from the session. Finally students should be instructed to log in at least fifteen minutes prior to the beginning of the DC session to check their connectivity and voice quality. 45

46 Study Centres: Although the technological requirements of study centres were announced earlier one of the study centres did not have UPS to provide backup in case of failure of electricity supply. In that centre often students could not join the DC due to this problem. Similarly another study centre had the problem of insufficient headphones for the students. 46

47 Learning: Centres should ensure that the minimum infrastructure facilities are available to conduct DC sessions. 47

48 Problem Of Large Cities: There was one study centre in Mumbai where students resided in different parts of the city. Since Mumbai is a very large city with heavy traffic it was very difficult for a number of students to regularly join the Distributed Classroom and F2F sessions that were held at an Education College. Midway through the course it was suggested that students could join DC from home but should go to the Study Centre during other weekdays to interact with the mentors. However this would mean that the students could not meet their peer group members to interact with. 48

49 Learning: The problem remained unresolved till the end of the course. Probably having more than one Centre in such large cities would facilitate participation at the DCs. But this involves more logistics, finance, etc. Access to minimal facilities continues to be a challenge for majority of learners and institutions in India. Geographical and social barriers often impede participation of learners and are major obstacles for quality online education. 49

50 The Programme Learning Management System (LMS): ‘ERA’ LMS: The ‘ERA’ LMS provided by the MKCL is quite elaborate and a powerful tool used by thousands of students every year. However since it was not designed for this program, there were certain difficulties faced by the students and/ or mentors and tutors. Some of these problems were human related and some technical: 50

51 Students’ teething problems: Some of the students who joined the program had inadequate IT literacy at the start to the extent that at times a student would call the technical support of the MKCL asking very basic questions about computer operation. In contrast there were some students who were quite well versed with IT. As a result of this situation it has been decided that in the next launch of the programme there will be a one month computer literacy module before course 1 begins. That will indicate the minimum IT literacy requirement that all students should have before joining the program. 51

52 Uploading problems: A number of students faced problems while uploading their assignments on ERA. They needed technical assistance to do so; some of them sent their assignments by email to the tutors. It was later on learned that submitting assignments through emails was unacceptable because University required all the submission records through ERA, which was the official LMS of the program. So assignments had to be resubmitted through ERA, adding to the workload of both the students and tutors. 52

53 E-portfolios: Some of the activities and assignments of the program required the students to post their answers to their respective e-portfolios. However ERA did not have e-portfolios for the students until much later during the subsequent semesters. 53

54 Submission Deadlines: Deadlines for a number of assignments had to be extended several times. However ERA would not allow extending deadlines more than two times. On the other hand being an open and distance learning course it was announced that students had two years to four years times to complete the course. ERA did not have this provision. 54

55 Learning: It may be difficult to get everything right in the first place, so the tutors, mentors and students should be flexible and ready to adjust to the difficulties. This needs to be pointed out when similar pilot implementations are going to be there. Even though technology has its benefits, many a times, it pose difficulties which cause discomfort among the learners. Hence course tutors must be aware of the technical difficulties faced by the learners and alternatives should be provided to minimize the difficulties. 55

56 Course Teams and Experts, Programme Mentors, Tutors: Series of workshops to design the courses: ‘Course Teams’ refer to a group of experts who have designed the various Courses of the e-B.Ed programme. They normally play the role of Tutors/Mentors. Each Course Team is headed by a Team Leader. During a period of nearly four years there were a series of workshops conducted in Pune, Nashik, Mumbai and Panchgani involving course teams, experts, a group of nearly 40 educationists, and international resource persons to brain storm, share experiences and learn new approaches to design and implement this programme that was innovative and ‘unique’ in a number of ways. 56

57 The designing process of making this new programme went far beyond the usual ‘cut and paste’ approach. This was a hard task and needed a lot of unlearning and relearning to take place, and a lot of effort to reach unity of thought in fulfilling the challenging tasks. The result was the feeling, among all the partners, that they were transforming themselves first and that they were truly benefiting by being part of this process. 57

58 Learning: The vision of educational transformation, challenges of innovation, and the opportunity for learning and building their own capacity created a driving force and lasting motivation that kept the group working together year after year. It resulted into a win-win situation for all the partners who developed their own capacities and carried new abilities back to their own institutions. 58

59 Mentors’ training: ‘Mentors’ refer to the local guides available at the Study Centres where students would gather for DCs or visit anytime for guidance. It was observed that students from the study centres that had trained mentors performed better compared to the students from other Centres. 59

60 So in other words Study Centres where mentors could guide students and give them confidence in a way that made them feel they were not left alone to venture into the course material but always had a mentor to look up to in time of difficulties performed really well. The other Centre’s difficulties were further increased due to poor Internet connectivity because of which even the guidance provided to the students during Distributed Classrooms were not fully received and since all tutors were not active on the Course Discussion Forum, many concepts were not understood by them. 60

61 Learning: It is learned that training mentors prior to start of each course is highly essential so that despite all the technological challenges, students will still be in a position to clarify their doubts. 61

62 Tutors’ response to students’ queries: ‘Tutors’ refer to subject experts who would normally interact with the students through DCs, email or Discussion Forum. They are responsible to comment of students submissions and evaluate their assignments. 62

63 Learning: Whenever tutors responded swiftly to the questions of the students sent to them by email the result was students’ greater motivation and completion of the activities on time. More than anything it helped the student to go on with his/her study smoothly without any breaks, thus finishing the academic work on time and submitting it getting full fledge confidence and sense of achievement. On the other hand delays or no response by a mentor would cause frustration for the students and her demoralization. This point was brought to the attention of all the mentors during consultation meetings. 63

64 Additionally some students felt the need for debate or motivating lectures beyond the curriculum. That may indirectly help the students in developing a positive approach towards the course, and motivate them to sustain and complete the course fruitfully. 64

65 Periodic consultation meetings of the Course Team members and Experts to resolve issues: During implementation of the program very often it was felt necessary to have all the course-team members or team-leaders come together for consultation. Such gatherings would clear the air about many issues and bring about more unity of thought. Nevertheless certain topics would come up a number of times and different conclusions would be reached and certain tasks had to be done from the scratch by the team-members. At times this redoing involved some fundamental issues such as integration of the courses, consistency of all courses, evaluation system, mentors’ training, DCs, etc. 65

66 For example the expected outcome of students’ performance was not well defined at the beginning and a system was not in place to compare or to measure their performance. The levels of achievement - - basic, professional, excellence, creativity-- were formulated later to accommodate all the types of students’ performances for evaluation. Another issue was that the number of tutor was not consistent for various courses. This created mixed impacts on certain courses. In the same context the entire programme was never presented as ONE and the latter assignments did not have much connection to the earlier courses. 66

67 Learning: This matter points out to a basic exercise that could have been carried out at the initial stages of conceptualizing the whole program. Creating a “framework” through consultation of all the partners could properly have been the answer. 67

68 Such a “framework” could have addressed issues such as the basic philosophy binding the e-B.Ed partner institutions, the rights and responsibilities of each, the principles and values governing their working relationships, the methods and approaches of the programme, the role of learning and developmental outcomes in the overall development of the students, assessment and evaluation, recognition and certification, course design, mentors’ training, technological support, financial matters etc. Such a framework would have made the course to look like a ‘whole’ rather than pieces joined together and would have fostered more consistency among all its components, reduced the chances to redo the same thing, and provided a focus satisfactory for all. 68

69 Conclusion: Considering its content and methods and the consortium approach taken by the partners, the e-B.Ed programme marked a bold step in transforming the programmes of Teacher Education (B.Ed) in India. Although it started with a pilot run as a humble beginning, it was a very courageous step involving about 15 institutions of higher learning, both public and private, and some NGOs who worked together with great confidence in the form of 40 educationists for about four years before the programme was launched. The support of the Commonwealth of Learning was crucial to the entire operation. 69

70 This unified action met with great success in its pilot run, as a good number of the students exceeded the expectations of the programme designers who had to keep raising their yard sticks and create more spaces for the interested students to become more creative. 70

71 Despite various challenges that it faced, the partners remained confident and kept an open mind to learn and improve. The instances that have briefly been mentioned here are some of the important lessons that may prove to be useful to other enterprising educationists who may aspire to stretch the limits of teacher education programmes in open and distance mode beyond the conventional approaches and make them oriented towards building students’ capabilities for personal change and educational/social transformation. 71

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