Training of In-service Educators through Online Activity-based Learning

By Mohammad Issack Santally.

Published by The International Journal of Technologies in Learning

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

In 2001, for the University of Mauritius to catch the eLearning bandwagon, the Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies (VCILT) was created in bid to modernize the distance education concept by fully utilizing the possibilities offered by IT-enabled networked systems and the Internet. The February 2010 issue of the Commonwealth of Learning “Connections” magazine has a few sections fully dedicated to the teacher training issue. Incidentally the articles all adopt a highly critical perspective of current teacher training courses especially within developing COL countries. In the article “Time for Radical Change in Teacher Education”, Bob Moon, Professor at the Open University of the UK argues that it is time to implement new technologies in teacher training courses so as to focus on the continuous professional development of educators. One of the innovations brought by the centre in the educational system of the University is the introduction of continuous professional development training and formal top-up qualifications through online mode of delivery. In terms of pedagogical approaches, one of the main changes brought in teacher training programmes has been the introduction of activity-based learning using authentic problem statements and focusing on competencies building as well as skills development. However, such approaches bring their share of ‘constructive disruption’ in the University system as well as in the workload both of the academic and the learner and therefore necessitate careful planning and execution. In this article, we describe the concept of activity-based learning in our local context and how it is being implemented in online teacher training courses at the University of Mauritius. A pedagogical scenario can be defined as a sequence of phases within which students have tasks to do and specific roles to play. Activity-based or project-based learning (taking an activity as a type of project) is a teaching and learning technique that essentially provides the means to depart from intensive teacher-centred instruction which is mainly focused on the development cognitive learning abilities. We describe a set of good practices that have emerged based on our experience and feedback gathered from the teaching and learning communities involved. We finally discuss its main pedagogical implications and impacts on the workload of the teacher and the learner in the process as well as some of its main drawbacks.

Keywords: Activity-based Learning, project-based Learning, local Context, Mauritius

International Journal of Technologies in Learning, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp.1-19. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 631.872KB).

Dr. Mohammad Issack Santally

Senior Lecturer, VCILT, University of Mauritius, Reduit, Mauritius

A senior academic with international experience in e-learning and Open and Online Learning consultancies. Has worked on Edulink-ACP funded project in networks with Open University of UK and other Commonwealth Universities such as West Indies, Southern Pacific and the UHI of Scotland on the design and use of open educational resources. Is also involved in the UCSIS (University Consortium for Small Island States) IT committee for a funded project to mount an online Masters in Sustainable Development. He has earned international and national recognition for contribution in the e-learning and educational technology field. Has spent the past 10 years at the University of Mauritius designing and implementing innovative online academic programmes related to teacher education and distance education courses in other fields.