By Dr. Neeta Bali, Member, Academic Council, Saamarthya Teachers Training Academy of Research (STTAR)
In today’s society better known as the “Knowledge Society”, schools cannot remain unaffected by the sea of changes that are taking place in terms of the integration of technology in the education space. The traditional methods of teaching, such as memorizing and theoretical learning, are passé.
This new learning environment requires an aggressive technology-related teacher training perspective. Furthermore, with the advent of revolutionary AI tools like ChatGPT, teacher training becomes way more pressing. While a lot of educational institutions across the globe have aggressively cracked down on the tool, with appropriate teacher training it can prove to be a boon for the education segment.
There is a need to create and incorporate pedagogical innovations and these require training that can be flexible and involve teachers in collaborative digital projects, encouraging creativity so that the same innovation, creativity and interdisciplinary learning can percolate to school communities.
It is important to train teachers in technology to create interactive classrooms so that educators can find new ways and means of making the lessons meaningful and engaging. Learning and teaching are co-dependent. Simply reading from a textbook is not the end of a teacher’s job, just as listening to a teacher’s monologue is not good enough for a student to comprehend the concepts of the subject. The teacher needs to understand from the perspective of the student as to what would make a classroom session significantly more intriguing. Every teacher training course for integrating technology in education offers practical classroom sessions as an integral part of the course, with each candidate being mentored for making the classroom teaching sessions more engaging and interesting for the benefit of the student.
A number of organizations who believe that mere content updating of teachers will enhance teacher effectiveness, are not helping their teachers. We cannot overlook training in the area of skill development, pedagogy, curriculum implementation, classroom management and assessment. Some of the reasons why teachers must be trained in technology are that teacher training programs equip teachers with new methods to keep their classroom and curriculum fresh, and exciting and provide access to new styles of teaching. Gamification and use of various apps make learning more interesting or enjoyable. It means that we take activities that already exist and add elements or features to make them more interactive and challenging, and therefore more engaging.
Technology also levels the field of opportunity for students but it can only happen when staff training is an ongoing process because technology is an ever-changing and dynamic field. These techniques form an important part of a teacher’s remit, and training programmes empower them and teach them how to apply them effectively in the classroom. There has also been a paradigm shift in the manner in which students are dealt with. The most powerful reason for advocating that teachers be trained in technology is the emergence of new codes & languages that have completely transformed the way we access knowledge, process and transmit it.
The National Education Policy(NEP) 2020 extensively focuses on experiential learning, involving active participation and hands-on learning experience of students. This again requires teachers to be trained in innovative teaching strategies that encourage student engagement and participation.
A comprehensive, consistent teacher training is the need of the hour-:
Enhances student engagement: Technology integration can improve student engagement and motivation by developing a more personalised learning experience. Regular teacher training in this regard can allow teachers to acquire the skills to formulate engaging multimedia content that caters to the different requirements of students.
Improved teacher competence: Uniform teacher training allows teachers to design the required skills and knowledge to incorporate technology tools effectively into their teaching practices. It empowers teachers to create a more engaging learning environment to enhance learning outcomes.
Regular teacher training sessions can also empower teachers with the necessary skills to leverage technology tools that enable collaborative learning like online discussion forums and group projects.
ChatGPT can be a beneficial tool for teachers to improve their teaching approaches. The tool can help educators to design interactive quizzes, games, and other engaging content for students.
Additionally, it can also support teachers to create a better understanding of its probable uses in the classroom. However, prior to utilising ChatGPT in the classroom, teachers should ensure they have a good understanding of its basics and this is where teacher training comes into play.
It is also important to consider that while ChatGPT can offer answers to a host of questions, only a human teacher can offer a personalised learning experience. Moreover, educators are comprehensively trained to deliver feedback and evaluate student learning, which is essential for student success, something which tools like ChatGPT are not capable of.
Lastly, without proper teacher training, it can prove detrimental to experiment with practical teaching methods in a real classroom environment, as the students may fail to properly grasp the concepts and fail to perform as expected.
In nutshell, the new learning environment requires an aggressive technology-related teacher training perspective. This calls for continuous training sessions, not merely for teachers’ autonomous learning but also for a strong implementation strategy that is reflected in the work carried out by teams.