Saturday, 21 April 2012

Transforming Teacher Education - The BSc (Hons) Educational and Instructional Technology (Top-Up) Degree

In 2009 the VCILT launched the BSc (Hons) Educational and Instructional Technology Top-Up programme to allow in-service educators holding either a Diploma in Primary or Secondary Education or educators with Certificate of Primary Education with at least 10 yrs of teaching experience to embark on this lifelong learning programme.

Teachers/Educators of specially primary schools in Mauritius have always suffered from injustices in terms of their salary (which is very low for such a noble job) and in terms of the possibility to upgrade their qualifications. 

The entry qualification on a teacher training programme in Mauritius used to be the School Certificate level which has over the years been raised to HSC. However, nowadays it is a fact that many graduates are embracing this job for a derogatory salary. 

Why are they doing so? There are only 2 reasons. They have to earn a living, and it is imperative that they get a secured government job. At what expense? They have to embark on another 2 or 3 year training at the Mauritius Institute of Education with many of their counterparts who only have HSC and who have just come out of the secondary schooling system. On top of that, they have to sign a bond of about Rs 175000 to ensure they serve in the primary sector for at least five years. 

Can we achieve world class education with such a philosophy? Can we reform our education system with such a philosophy? As a result people are no longer embracing the primary school teaching profession for the passion that they have but merely as a job which they dislike and look for the very first opportunity to quit.

Now comes the issue of those who want to further their qualifications but they get stuck in the system. They have to wait years based on a number of different criteria before they can embark on either an Advanced Certificate in Education or a B.Ed for those having a Diploma in Education. 

As a result many educators start to embark on fresh degree programmes which do not have any relation to the teaching profession. 

This is where the Online Innovative BSc (Hons) programme of the University of Mauritius addresses some of the very many injustices to teachers. First and foremost it recognizes their prior teaching qualifications and most importantly their experiences. It values their contribution to the profession and gives them a fast track route to earn a degree which reflects teaching and learning of the 21st century. 

On the other hand, after this degree they can go for any generic Masters degree programmes that can open other career avenues for them in higher levels of the hierarchy of the education system. 

For teachers of the secondary schools who have diploma in education, this top-up degree provides the avenue for them to be upgraded to Grade A teacher therefore getting better salary and fringe benefits which helps in achieving a better job satisfaction. 

Unfortunately so far educators are having to pay for this programme but this contribution is also helping in a way to make the course financially sustainable for the greater benefit of society at large. This programme is helping to make our experienced educators digital migrants and equipped our young educators with a modern approach to education. Thus only a radical transformation process with regards to learning and the education system can start...

Monday, 16 April 2012

Capacity-building workshops on Rapid e-Learning and Interactive Materials Development

2012 has marked a year where the VCILT has engaged into a series of Capacity-Building Workshops on Rapid e-Learning and Interactive Materials development for e-learning. The main target are educators of the primary and secondary schools who are exposed to technology in the classroom but who cannot use them in innovative and creative ways as they would have wished to for a variery of reasons.

The VCILT has been working on research and development related to pedagogical design of high quality learning environments using rapid e-learning methodology since 2009. We felt that this is the time to start disseminating the technique after its successful experimentation within the university courses and a few international consultancies. 

The VCILT has been generously supported by MICROSOFT in this endeavour and more 50 educators have received a 2-day training on rapid e-learning development in March-April 2012. 

The philosophy is to distribute the development of interactive learning resources among the teachers by empowering them in terms of technical skills through these capacity-building workshops to allow more resources to be  developed, which are customised according to the teachers' students and their respective abilities, and to take less time in reaching a critical mass of a variety of resources than can be used, reused and shared among the practitioners.