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Creating a new culture of teaching and learning

© British Council

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has made a great impact on the way knowledge is produced and shared, which in turn has called for a paradigm shift in educational practices from teacher-centred to student-centred. Students are no longer seen as knowledge recipients; rather, they are seen as active agents of learning, who are actively engaged in knowledge creation with the help of teachers and peers. Social interaction and collaboration therefore has been given a great emphasis in this new paradigm of teaching and learning. 

In this student-centred pedagogy, the teachers’ role and capacity has become more critical than ever. On top of necessary expertise in their subject matters, teachers have to understand how to guide their students in making judicious use of information from multiple sources, thinking critically, working and solving problems collaboratively.  The challenge is how to enable teachers not only to overcome the technology barriers but also to empower them to integrate appropriate technology into the learning process. It is therefore suggested that all the different stakeholders in the field of ICT in education, such as policy makers, planners, teacher educators, teachers, and private sectors be actively involved in building teacher capacity for the effective integration of ICT in classroom practices. 

It was in this context that UNESCO Bangkok and the British Council - Thailand co-organized the “Innovative ICT Practices in Teaching and Learning: A Regional Seminar” to provide a platform for educators and school administrators to share and learn about on the latest and innovative teaching and learning practices supported by ICT. The event was held from 23-25 October 2011 at the Imperial Queen’s Park in Bangkok, Thailand.  A total of 102 speakers, key players, and participants from the region attended the Seminar. The countries represented were Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Philippines, and Thailand.  

UNESCO Bangkok Director Gwang-Jo Kim and British Council-Thailand Deputy Director Duncan Wilson who enjoined the participants “to listen to and engage the speakers and key players in discussions, to showcase your projects through the poster presentations, to learn from one another, and to discuss potential collaborations among yourselves and your schools across the region – so that we can work together in providing more models towards creating a new culture of learning through Project-Based Learning with Telecollaboration.”

Plenary speakers from various international organizations and areas of expertise were invited to present topical ICT in education programmes and projects that have a substantial impact on teaching and learning.  Talks included relevant themes like the role of Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) in ICT-pedagogy integration, promising project-based learning cases, available capacity-building initiatives and professional development programmes, communities of practice among teachers, and emerging issues in ICT in Education.

The participants were also treated to three (3) workshops that oriented the participants on various ICT applications that they may use in the regular classroom setting: The Digital Suitcase, Using Social Media for Classroom Teaching and Learning, and Multimedia Resources for Teaching and Learning.

Thirty-three (33) selected teacher participants creatively displayed the outputs of their innovative teaching and learning practices during the Exhibition and Poster Session.  Each poster presenter was given five minutes to elaborate on his/her poster by discussing the project background, learning objectives, mechanics, outputs, and feedback from their students and communities.  The participants voted on the top three poster presentations that stood out which were “Let’s Make the World A Better Place” (India: The Galaxy Education System), “Tradition and Heritage” (China: Nonglinxia Road Primary School, Aoweisi Primary School, Lindong Primary School), and “Myths and Beliefs Project” (Malaysia: Kolej Tun Datu Tu-anku Haji Bujang College). 

The poster presentations and the session “School Collaboration Corner” provided the participants with an opportunity to gather ideas on potential projects as well as explore and develop potential collaborative projects towards building a community of innovative teaching practices. 

In conjunction with the Seminar, a Key Players’ Meeting was also convened where UNESCO-Bangkok and key partners shared their respective programs and activities in the area of ICT in Education. The group discussed possible ways to leverage partnerships to provide the necessary support as well as develop new innovations to promote the quality of student learning. 

The event evaluation results showed that the participants highly appreciated the seminar because it provided an opportunity to gather and share ideas, practices, and experiences from the speakers and among the participants. The participants mentioned that they were able to get good ideas that they can replicate or try out in their respective schools.  As one teacher participant put it, “I have learned that teacher-centred learning is not very effective – students are like birds, they need to fly and ICTs make the classroom an open sky.” They stated that they got inspired and motivated to practice what they learned. 

It can also be surmised that the participants appreciated the talks that presented actual / practical applications that they can directly and immediately apply to their classes rather than theoretical discussions.  Another major topic that they found very relevant was the one on Child Cyber Safety since they witness themselves the various dangers of poorly managed ICT utilization can pose to their students and to society as a whole.  They liked the workshops very much because they provided “concrete” examples and applications. 

The poster presentations and the talks that highlighted the potentials of networking and collaboration proved to be very useful as well. One participant stated, “Our school has longed ever since a connection to other schools in our country and abroad and we’ve been doing collaborative and student-centred practices for several years now. Yet this is only the time that I was aware that we could be possibly connected and be united in the midst of diversity in the global academe.”

In addition, participants who came from TEIs liked the session on what other TEIs are doing with regards to ICT integration in the curriculum. They appreciated the fact they were able to network with TEIs from other countries for possible research collaborations. 

In general, the Seminar met the seminar participants’ expectations, garnering an average score of 3.49 out of a possible 4.  They found the Seminar interesting (3.69), useful (3.62), and relevant (3.59).   They were able to get new insights on ICT-Pedagogy integration (3.41).  They found the speakers knowledgeable (3.59), organized (3.49), and facilitative (3.36).  

With the success of this event, the next Regional Seminar is already being planned for 2012 as the culminating activity of the three-year “Facilitating ICT-Pedagogy Integration Project” funded by Korea Funds-in-Trust.