As the lockdown forced a disruption in education, teachers and students were faced with the challenge of continuing to teach and learn. The Centre of Excellence in Teacher Education (CETE), set up in May 2018 under the Tata Trusts’ Education portfolio, took up the challenge.
In 2020, CETE started an initiative called COOL (Connected Open Online Learning). It reached out to schoolteachers, students, teacher educators and in-training teachers to offer a wide range of resources to help different stakeholders in transitioning to online modes of teaching and learning. Available in English and five Indian languages, the COOL programme draws from the Trusts’ ongoing work using technology in education, namely CLIx or the Connected Learning Initiative.
The five initiatives under COOL include:
1. An online course for teachers on Technology for Connected Learning
2. Resources for teacher education are resources for B. Ed. students (mapped onto the NCTE curriculum and made available on TISSx, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences learning platform) as well as webinars for teacher educators and M. Ed. students
3. Repository of Open Educational Resources (OERs) in multiple languages
4. Multilingual webinars for students and teachers
5. Research and ground assessments to understand field realities and voices from the field
Building teacher capacity in technology
CLIx’s foundational beliefs include promoting and enabling active learning, along with teachers' ownership for the online learning process. Neither objective could be actualised during the pandemic because schools had shut down. The project team had to quickly come up with new practices and viable technologies.
In response, CLIx planned online ed-tech campaigns in its three intervention states – Mizoram, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. The objective was to increase the reach of CLIx and other OERs through the online training of various stakeholders like teachers, teacher educators, sectoral officers, headmasters, students, cluster resource persons, etc. The RTICT Modular Course: Managing an ICT Lab was offered to a select group of teachers. Two hundred and twenty-five teachers were selected through the state and district educational offices. The lab management course, offered on TISSx, aimed to help those selected acquire competencies related to the installation, maintenance and management of an ICT lab on their own. It also helped them get an understanding of the basics of computer hardware and software, eventually helping them in their teaching-learning process. Field facilitators also designed activities and engaged students in smaller groups.
CLIx at work
Here is a case study of how CLIx sparks change in the learning process.
In Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari district, CLIx collaborated with teachers to start coding activities for students from Standard 9 to 12. Approximately 150 students joined the initiative. With support from the teachers, CLIx’s field staff conducted nearly 50 hours of online workshops. Discussions were held on topics such as computational thinking and syntax. Since the students had limited access to mobile devices and internet access, teachers assigned project-based activities that the children could do when they had devices at hand. The children took up projects involving scratch coding, GeoGebra, Turtle logo activities, etc, that are part of CLIx’s OER offerings. Teachers received more than 200 projects in the first three months of this initiative.
The teachers involved were really excited as the programme allowed them to shift from online teaching to a project-based learning approach. Students enjoyed creating artifacts using OER resources and were engaged and eager to learn to programme. The blended approach helped both teachers and students put what they learnt during online sessions into practice.
In one online session, a Maths teacher confessed that she enjoyed watching the moment when the idea of programming finally clicked for her students, and how they learnt to connect maths and programming. Both teachers and students feel this initiative has helped them to improve their math skills through coding.
For students, learning the basics of programming makes them better at articulating problems, designing game ideas and testing them on their mobile devices. They are able to understand and conceptualise abstract concepts that programming offers. Once that happens, they don’t want to go back to old methods of learning. A student admitted that when he first started, programming seemed very tricky and challenging but with continuous engagement, he was able to apply his learning to approach problems differently.
CLIx’s success lies in offering both teachers and students new tools and methods, helping them hone their skills and intellect, and allowing them to discover the joys of teaching and learning.
Launched in 2015, the Connected Learning Initiative is a multi-state, multi-partner initiative seeded by the Tata Trusts and led by CETE, Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA.
A collaborative project working to strengthen the quality of the educational ecosystem in India, CLIx aims to improve teachers’ professional development, teaching and student learning through the use of ICT-enabled Open Education Resources (OER) and the thoughtful use of interactive technologies.
CLIx draws on MIT’s leadership in platform-based, blended-learning and interactive technologies in education, and TISS’ experience of impactful field action programmes for underserved and marginalised communities in school and teacher education to ensure equitable access to educational technology and opportunities to improve learning outcomes.
CLIx supports state governments to take CLIx and OER-integrated curricula to more students, and to meaningfully integrate technology into professional development for teachers. The initiative partnered with the governments of Mizoram, Chhattisgarh and Telangana to work in government high schools with students and teachers. It has also collaborated with a number of organisations for curriculum development and implementation.
CLIx promises opportunities to make more meaningful and original contributions to address the pressing problem of access to quality education for all.