AN ACTION PLAN TO OVERHAUL THE TEACHER EDUCATION CURRICULUM

 

Vasundhara Padmanabhan,

INTRODUCTION

The teachers in this era of globalization are confronted with varied problems that are anticipated in this new knowledge age. This necessitates redefining philosophy of education for the development of a holistic personality.  The paper presents the emerging trends in instructional technology and proposes a plan of action to overhaul the B. Ed. curriculum within the parameters approved by the university so that implementation does not face many hurdles.

 

CONSTRUCTIVISM VS OBJECTIVISM

 To the objectivists, knowledge and truth exist outside the mind of the individual and are therefore objective. ‘Learners are told about the world and are expected to replicate its content and structure in their thinking’.  Learning is thus viewed as the acquisition and accumulation of a finite set of skills and facts. The role of a teacher here is to ‘deliver the goods’. The teacher is to plan, prepare and deliver the content in such a way as to impart the knowledge of the subject matter. Constructivism, on the other hand, emphasizes the construction of knowledge, while objectivism concerns mainly with the object of knowing. Central to the tenet of constructivism is that learning is an active process. Information may be imposed, but understanding cannot be, for it must come from within.  Instruction  refers to providing learners with a collaborative situation in which they have both the means and the opportunity to construct ‘new and situational-specific understandings’. Cognitivists emphasize on discovery approach and problem solving methods so as to result in retention and transfer of the knowledge imparted. Bruner emphasized on  structuring of instruction in such a way as to foster conceptualization and the  development of problem solving skills through the processes of inquiry and discovery. He advocates autonomy in learning. Bigge emphasized that thinking is to be fostered through conceptualization.  Ausubel advocated providing ideational anchors / subsumers as advance organizers to make verbal learning meaningful. Gardner advocated the use of multimedia in instruction. Gagne’s conditions of learning provide guiding principles for instructional designing.

 

COOPERATIVE & COLLABORATIVE LEARNING

The major theme of  Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism is that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition. A second aspect of Vygotsky’s theory is the idea that the potential for cognitive development depends upon the “zone of proximal development” (ZPD): a level of development attained when children engage in social behaviour. Full development of the ZPD depends upon full social interaction. The range of skill that can be developed with adult guidance or peer collaboration exceeds what can be attained alone. From a constructivist perspective, the primary responsibility of the teacher is to create and maintain a collaborative problem-solving environment, where students are allowed to construct their own knowledge, and the teacher acts as a facilitator and guide.

 

INFLUENCE OF ICT ON EDUCATION

With the advancement of ICT, there have been revolutionary changes in all the aspects of our lives, so also in education. Distance education is becoming more effective and popular as it is flexible. Many open universities have been offering excellent programmed course material, teleconferencing and videoconferencing facilities, TV programs using EDUSAT, etc. A multitude of distance education courses in science, humanities, IT, management, paramedical courses are available to choose from, several twinning programs, transnational collaborations and , on line courses offering foreign degrees are available for a price.  But the traditional classroom teaching is still by the lecture method, without much scope for individualized learning. It  emphasizes more of knowledge of facts and figures rather than understanding and application which, in turn, encourages rote memorization. Teachers should shed complacency, arise, awake and live up to the expectations of the students and the society by updating themselves about the latest trends and make instruction globally relevant.

 

AN ACTION PLAN

* Including  concept of constructivism and the constructivist theories including Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism in teacher education curriculum;

* Making computer education and educational technology subjects  compulsory;

* Including  ICT topics such as instructional design, programmed instruction, interactive multimedia, e-learning, etc.  at D. Ed., B.Ed. and M.Ed. levels;

* Making  provision for following  practical work and giving  weightage for grading in addition to the action research project:  (a) Teaching of at least one practice teaching lesson per subject (method)  using power point presentation (as a teaching aid), (b) Preparing one self learning material (textual) on any one unit in the subject of specialization (as a teaching aid); (c)Preparing  programmed instructional material) on any one unit in the subject of specialization; (d) Compulsory surfing of the websites of ten foreign universities and their review; (e) Compulsory surfing of the websites of ten on-line courses and their review; and (f) Compulsory networking and correspondence via e-mail with at least ten teachers/teacher educators in China, US, Japan and/or Europe;

* Giving emphasis on cooperative and collaborative learning while transacting the curriculum: (a) Covering at least two units in each paper by cooperative learning, and (b) Teaching at least one practice teaching lesson per subject (method)  by cooperative learning;

* Making provision for  courses which can add on credits to B. Ed. course, which can also be offered to foreign students under twinning programmes and these courses may be   Certificate Courses in Indian Fine Arts; Indian Culture and Heritage; Indian Handicraft; Yoga and Stress Management; Vedic Mathematics; Communication Skills; Life Skills; Multimedia and On-line Learning; Website Designing; Instructional Designing; Research Methodology; Foreign Languages: Chinese, French, German,  and  Japanese and  conducting these certificate courses during vacation soon after the end of the academic session and annual examinations so that the vacation could be utilized productively.