Technology for professional development

Report launched during event co-hosted with The Open University at British Council Delhi on 30 September 2015 

Launching the Technology for professional development report at British Council New Delhi. From left to right: Michael Connolly, Assistant Director English Partnerships British Council India, Chris Brandwood, Director English British Council South Asia, Bhanu Potta, Founding Partner ZingerLabs, Nirupa Fernandez, Assistant Director English Language Services British Council India, Rob Lynes, Director British Council India.

Launching the Technology for professional development report at British Council New Delhi. From left to right: Michael Connolly, Assistant Director English Partnerships British Council India, Chris Brandwood, Director English British Council South Asia, Bhanu Potta, Founding Partner ZingerLabs, Nirupa Fernandez, Assistant Director English Language Services British Council India, Rob Lynes, Director British Council India.

There has been much discussion in recent years on the potential of technology to help deliver high quality training content to teachers who otherwise may not have access. The British Council is committed to exploring the feasibility of this and experimenting with innovative ways of using a range of digital channels to assist teachers with their professional development.

On 30 September, the British Council co-hosted an event with The Open University to explore the topic in detail through a panel discussion featuring five professionals working in the field. The panel discussion was chaired by Dr Tom Power, Senior Lecturer at The Open University in the UK and Programme Director of the English in Action project in Bangladesh. A recording of the event will shortly be made available on our YouTube channel – details will be made available here later this week.

Themes emerging from the event included general agreement that pedagogy trumps technology – teachers need to be taught when digital content can help their development (and indeed their learners) but also how to use it appropriately and judiciously. The panel was quick to recognise that it is not technology that makes a difference, but teachers. Additionally, there was considerable discussion around the function of technology in providing opportunities for collaboration: social media and forums on MOOCs or online courses can provide much needed space for sharing and discussion. The need for support was also clear: teachers need help in developing their own ICT skills in order to make the most of opportunities available through digital channels. Overall, there was a general consensus that technology can provide unprecedented opportunities for developing both pre- and in-service teachers’ skills, but that there is still further work needed before it can be done efficiently and effectively in India.

In addition to the panel discussion, the British Council launched a report entitled Technology for professional development: access, interest and opportunity for teachers of English in South Asia. The report highlights findings from research conducted by ZingerLabs and EZVidya in 2014. This included a detailed survey of 892 teachers from six countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – investigating their access, attitudes and preferences with regards to using radio, TV, mobile, computers and social media for their development. The survey was supported by a series of fourteen focus groups in seven locations and interviews with industry experts and school leaders. Additionally, the team conducted secondary research into national trends and existing initiatives which are harnessing technology for educational purposes in the South Asia region.

The key findings of the research were as follows:

  •  Access to digital is similar across the region and the various segments of the sample population (e.g. private vs government sector, urban, semi-urban and rural locations, etc.)
  • Teachers are positive about the potential for making more use of technology for their professional development.
  • Digital literacy and ICT skills are low and there is a lack of confidence in using technology.
  • Computers and mobile phones are the most popular channels for professional development content, while radio and television are not preferred because of a perceived lack of interactivity.
  • There are currently inadequate user payment models to support commercial development of content.
  • Teachers are interested in participating in communities of practice and want resources that clearly suit their context and needs.

The report can be downloaded for free from our website .

Are you a teacher? Do you work in teacher education? What are your views on teachers using technology for their professional development? Write a comment below to join in the debate or tweet us @inBritish or @TeachEngIndia using the hashtag #digitalteachers.

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