Teachers being coursed in information technology teaching strategies
Guyana Chronicle
October 22, 2002

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TWENTY-SIX teachers and educators have benefited from two recent teacher training workshops organised by the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) and the Institute of Science and Technology (IAST).

The workshops were done in collaboration with the Caribbean Council of Science and Technology/National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (CCST/NIHERST) of Trinidad and sponsored by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

They were the first of a series of sessions aimed at training teachers across Guyana in the implementation of teaching and learning strategies and using information technology (IT) as a 21st century educational tool.

The first workshop entitled "Developing and Implementing 21st Century Curriculum" was aimed at developing a cadre of educational leaders who will have a clear understanding and alignment of why, what and how the 21st Century curriculum must be implemented for all students and teachers to function effectively and successfully in present and future Guyanese and global society.

According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), participants were made aware that they have to develop a full understanding of technological-driven change, its implications and the impact it would have for education.

They were asked to develop a rationale for why instructional practices must change for change to occur.

They were also asked to discuss the skills, knowledge and attributes needed by students to cope with the rapidly changing world, the agency said.

Other outcomes of the workshop involved the examination of current teaching practices, development of effective instruction/technological strategies, alignment of the curriculum and using new instructional strategies.

At the end of the workshop session, the participants comprising curriculum officers, IT teachers, Regional Education Officers (REOs), secondary school teachers, teacher trainers and education administrators, were asked to develop an action plan by which they would implement what was taught at the workshop, and too, convince other educators of the need for change of the existing pedagogy.

In addition, they had to present their own ideas and concepts using the guidelines and strategies provided by the workshop facilitator, Ms. Anita Dosaj.

Dosaj, Director of the InfoSavvy Group, is also a teacher, writer, presenter, workshop facilitator, and keynote speaker whose practical, dynamic and humorous presentations focus on the every day issues organisations have to deal with in an environment of unrelenting change.

GINA said that in her role as Director, she speaks to and consults throughout North America and further afield with business and educational organisations, as her duties address a variety of core issues, including organisational change, leadership dynamics and development, effective communication practices in the workplace, customer-relationship strategies, and the development of information and media literacy skills necessary to cope with information overload.

The second workshop themed "Information Technology Literacy Training Programme for Teachers" consisted of more practical aspects which gave the participants an opportunity to obtain hands-on experience in the utilisation of instructional technology, relative to the classroom.

It was conducted by Professor Michael Szabo, a Professor of Educational Psychology and Division of Technology in Education at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, who has developed the graduate programme in Instructional Technology, and conducts research and development into several aspects of effects of instructional technology on learning and the process of instructional technology as innovation and change.

Szabo was also the Manager of Instructional Systems Development (PLATO) at the University of Alberta from 1981 to 1987.

During the sessions, participants were exposed to the use of computer based instruction, visual literacy and learning, internet-based courseware and electronic publishing, in addition to listening to a discussion by Szabo on the future of instructional technology and the reform of education through instructional technology.

The practical sessions involved the use of Microsoft PowerPoint incorporating audio, video, animation and other multimedia features and participants were required to develop presentations using the instructional tools available and knowledge gained from the workshop, as well as conduct research on digital media.

As a follow-up to the workshops and a second phase both Ms. Dosaj and Prof Szabo will each provide an additional 30 hours of online tutoring using a Web-based forum for discussions, assignments and presentations.

Consequently, participants are expected to communicate with the facilitators via email and in online discussion groups.

These sessions will be monitored and assisted by IAST/NCERD/NIHERST.

IAST/NCERD is interested in continuing to promote the concept by establishing a national Information Technology Training Centre for developing online mechanisms to facilitate development in education, health and other sectors across Guyana, GINA said.

However, the institute's efforts in this direction have been delayed as its application for a VSAT licence in accordance with GT&T licence is still to be approved, it said.