Over recent years, digital skills have become a vital part of any teacher’s skillset, with the use of online tools growing substantially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conscious of a need for trainers to develop their ability to meet the expectations of their students, the majority of whom are Digital Natives, Dudley College and the Government Women’s Polytechnic in Thrissur joined together in 2017 to meet the training requirements of teachers in India. ‘E-learning in Action’, a project funded by the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) and India’s Ministry of Skills Development and Education, aims to change traditional learning mechanisms used in polytechnic colleges. by developing E-content for Electronics and ICT courses. This will also include identifying effective digital tools for the e-submission of assignments and online tests for measuring student progress and improvement.
There is a clear need for this in India. While YouTube and many other websites deliver e-material and online courses in various fields of electronics & computer, they are not always presented in an organised, coherent manner, and therefore students are not particularly engaged by the content. Also, much of this content is only available through paid-for packages, which acts as a barrier for students on lower incomes.
In order to address these needs, we are carrying out a virtual learning environment development programme, drawing upon the expertise of both partners. Dudley College trainers visited Thrissur to deliver training around the best use of the ‘Blackboard’ learning environment (a user friendly online platform for e-learning) and Microsoft Teams, thereby supporting colleagues in India to develop new e-learning materials across a range of skill based curriculum areas. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been unable to welcome the team from Thrissur to Dudley, but we have kept the training going by delivering online workshops where delegates were able to share some of the developments they have introduced since their initial training. It was exciting to see how the workshop led to real, tangible results, and we are eager to see this continue with the next group of delegates, due to undertake online training in October 2020.
The training extended beyond a general awareness of technology and related training content to information on the pedagogical use of digital tools and how they align with the technical training needs of employers. Led by our Outstanding Practitioners, the demonstration workshops provided fantastic opportunities around how to effectively integrate new technologies into existing curriculum frameworks, approaching the subject in a holistic way that takes full account of wider issues such as assessment, differentiation, accessibility and interaction with staff and fellow learners.
With the project due to end in March 2021, there is still lots of time for the participants to carry out more developments, and Dudley is excited to continue supporting our friends in Thrissur! If you’re interested in hearing some of what has been achieved, please take a look at the short videos at flipgrid.com/fbecf47c