Addressing a National Crisis in Learning: Open Educational Resources, Teacher-Education in India and the Role of Online Communities of Practice
India currently suffers from an estimated 1.33 million shortfall in teachers and many existing teachers are unqualified, resulting in inadequate access to education and poor standards of learning for those already in the education system. Indeed, India’s Annual Status of Education report identified ‘an alarming degeneration’ (ASER 2012, p. 1) in educational standards in Indian primary schools and a ‘national crisis in learning’ (p. 2). This paper considers whether the use of open educational resources (OER) within India’s teacher-education system can help solve some of these problems. // The paper reports research by the OER Research Hub (OERRH) at the UK’s Open University (OU), focused on two India-based OER projects – DFID-funded TESS India, led by the OU in the UK, and the Subject Teacher Forum, created by Bangalore-based NGO IT for Change. TESS India builds on the lessons learned in Africa by its sister project TESSA (Wolfenden, 2008) and aims to create the biggest network of free, high quality, teacher education resources in India. The Subject Teacher Forum involves building 'Teachers’ Communities of Learning' whereby teachers create, review, curate and share digital resources with one another. // The OERRH study is assessing the impact of OER in widening access to education and in changing teacher-educators’ resource-sharing and self-reflection practices. This paper focuses more narrowly on the challenges currently facing teacher educators in India, exploring the extent to which OER offer an appropriate solution to overcoming them. In particular, variations in teacher-educators’ ICT skills and in their access to the Internet are considered. Of particular interest is the role of online peer-support communities of practice (Wenger, 1998) and reputation management systems in incentivizing OER creation, use and curation. Finally, the paper considers the ways in which community-based models of OER provision might be used to support teacher-education in other Commonwealth countries. // Paper ID: 349
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