Experiential Learning for Teachers Project

The Experiential Learning for Teachers Project is an initiative of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in collaboration with the Tata Trusts. The online course was launched on the DIKSHA platform in 2020. Its key objective is to sensitise teachers to allow primacy to the experiences of the learner and to the process of learning over the content.

The Challenge

The education system does not provide opportunities for students to form active connections with their lives, experiences and surroundings. Teaching focuses more on giving students small nuggets of information at a time, which makes it monotonous and uninteresting for both teachers and students.

Available teachers’ training courses focused on suggested lists of dos and don’ts of classroom teaching in a non-interactive manner. They failed to provide teachers with the necessary tools to hone their students’ creativity, communication and collaboration skills.

The Strategy

In 2019, Anita Karwal, then-chairperson of the CBSE and currently, Secretary of Education, Ministry of Education, invited the Trusts to develop an online course for teachers.

The Trusts formed a core design team comprising research faculty from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, and pedagogues from the Mahatma Gandhi International School (MGIS), Ahmedabad.

A pre-course survey of approximately 6,500 teachers conducted by the design team revealed that teachers had been looking for ideas and strategies to make learning more meaningful, and to allow linkages to real-life scenarios. They also needed additional pedagogical tools to meet the growing needs of their students.

The impact

The project team designed an experiential learning course that wove the art and science of teacher training into its instructional design. The orientation, streamed live on YouTube, attracted over 5,000 teachers.

Three months after the launch, the core team proposed an implementation plan which offered additional structured inputs. A series of ten interactive webinars were livestreamed on YouTube for the five regional CBSE zones, attracting 1,000 principals and around 60,000 teachers.

With the National Education Policy 2020 putting a greater emphasis on experiential learning, and the CBSE Board issuing notifications to all its affiliated schools, enrolment grew organically to 2,81,000 teachers, with a completion rate of 60 per cent.

The programme ended in November 2020. However, a few teachers reached out to the core team, wishing to continue growing and evolving their pedagogical understanding. “I realise I’d underestimated the children,” said Ms Mukherjee, R.N. Poddar School. Ms Guha, Delhi Public School, Nagpur, who developed lesson plans around eco-friendly masks, concurs. “It gets children to work, do, act, move, ask questions, research, find answers… when we connected all these experiences with their textbooks, concepts started making sense to them.”

Interviews conducted by the MGIS, the Trusts’ partner organisation, revealed what motivated teachers could achieve given adequate and regular support. Mrs Agarwal, Palace School, Jaipur says of her growth as an educator: “My colleagues now ask me questions, and for ideas on how to make linkages between different subjects, how to design collaboration activities among children. And I wonder, how did I change so much?”

Future steps

The Trusts’ core team is now helping to develop and implement an advanced level course to be hosted on the TISSx platform for selected teachers from the Ekalavya Model Residential Schools under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The objective is to help these teachers to move from being ‘sensitised’ to understanding and applying experiential learning in their classrooms and prepare a critical mass of mentor teachers who can take this learning further.

Says Dr Bobby Abrol, “If we are to help prepare our children to learn 21st century skills, then professional development modules for teachers have to be upgraded to pay adequate attention to teachers’ self-growth, provide adequate handholding, and allow ample scope of reflection on their practices.” The Trusts’ Experiential Learning pedagogy aims to do just that.

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