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Regional seminar on ICT integration sees revitalized network of UNESCO Resource Centres

© Cherylle Kelsey Ramos

A regional meeting of teachers and teacher educators on ICT integration in teaching and learning was held 9-11 October 2013 in Penang Malaysia, jointly organized by UNESCO Bangkok and Universiti Sains Malaysia.

This regional seminar was indeed a big milestone for both UNESCO Bangkok and its existing network of teacher education institutions who gathered to officially launch its revitalized network. This network, called UNESCO Resource Centres for now, consists of teacher education institutions from the Asia and Pacific region and will serve as national or regional focal points for distributing UNESCO ICT in Education resources, training teachers and teacher educators and advocating the effective integration of ICT in Education.

The UNESCO Resource Centre network was established in 2009. Since then, the network members had disseminated thousands of UNESCO resources to students, teachers and teacher educators in their region and provided training on the usage. Its re-conceptualization and transformation into an effective “training” network was therefore a logical step.

Under the new concept, the UNESCO Resource Centers will take the lead and will regularly conduct training on key ICT-related topics to pre-service, in-service teachers and educators. They will further work with selected master trainers whose expertise will be put into good use to facilitate replicated training workshops.

“UNESCO Bangkok is confident that this network of teacher education institutions can be a firm ground of professional learning community. Through this community,  teacher educators share their passion towards harnessing the potential of ICT for education and deepen expertise and knowledge through healthy and active interaction. UNESCO hopes that this network or learning community becomes so strong and solid that it can self-sustain” stressed Jonghwi Park, UNESCO Programme Specialist for ICT in Education, during the Opening Ceremony.

The Regional Seminar, which was generously supported by Korean Funds-in-Trust and Microsoft, brought together 300 teachers from Malaysia and 50 teacher educators from more than 14 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. During the three days meeting, participants listened to keynote speeches on “The new Culture of Learning”, “Building Capacity through Innovative Teaching Practices” and “Teacher as Architects: Designing Blueprints for Successful Learning” as well participated in eight parallel workshops designed in particular for teachers.

Other than discussions regarding the status of ICT integration in their countries, and an in-depth planning session for the upcoming activities of the network, the members of the UNESCO Resource Centres received training on the 21st Century Learning Design (21 CLD) by Microsoft resource persons..

The 21 CLD, a global professional development programme by Microsoft Partners in Learning, has a great potential in helping teachers redesign their existing lessons and learning activities to build students’ 21st century skills. 21 CLD will consequently be the main theme for this years’ activities of the network. It is anticipated that this innovative approach will be incorporated in the training activities of the UNESCO Resource Centres.

Cynthia Grace Diaz, a professor of the University of the East, Manila, which was one of the founding members of the network, remarked after the event: “There is nothing more exciting than having such unique and distinct peoples come together and realize that despite our many differences. Once again, UNESCO Bangkok has proven the potential and promise of partnerships that truly transform”.

The Regional Seminar, which built upon the first Regional Training Workshop for TEI-RDCs, held in Bangkok in 2012, will be organized in rotation by the Resource Centres in the future, as an annual event.