Supporting practice-based teacher professional learning and assessment at scale in the Global South

Cross, Simon; Wolfenden, Freda; Charania, Amina; Adinolfi, Lina; Sen, Sohini and Sarkar, Durba (2022). Supporting practice-based teacher professional learning and assessment at scale in the Global South. In: INTED2022 Proceedings.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21125/inted.2022

Abstract

The successful delivery of teacher professional development (TPD) at scale in the Global South faces significant challenges, yet this is critical to improving the quality of classroom teaching and learning, thereby contributing to SDG4. Challenges include access, rigour, dislocation from teachers’ specific sites of practice, the ability to authentically assess such practice, and a stubborn structural incompatibility with digital delivery and support. However, the conditions of the pandemic have accelerated the digitisation of teacher education programmes and highlighted the affordances of teachers’ own mobile devices for professional learning at scale.

With a focus on a case study of teachers from over 200 schools in two Eastern states in India we frame digital badges as one example of newly emerging technologies that have affordances compatible with moving TPD into an expanding digital space and supporting the scaling of assessment for, as and of such learning. In India alone it is estimated that over 400 million hours of TPD will be required to meet the aspirations of the 2020 National Education Policy. Such challenges are echoed globally and represent the need for a step-change in thinking and practice around technology-mediated TPD across interconnecting scales and geographies, and in the role of assessment for teacher learning within such provision.

Our study concerned three, short online TPD courses that were delivered during the pandemic, each designed to enhance teachers’ competencies and skills in using digital technologies to support their adoption of more constructivist classroom pedagogies. The Teacher participants were awarded a digital badge for each course if they succeeded in achieving a minimum total score across the associated assessment tasks. Unlike many digitally badged courses that only use multiple choice questions to assess learning, we specifically sought to promote change in teachers’ practice – whether in real or virtual classrooms - through a variety of assessment tasks, among these, peer review of teaching plans and artefacts, and guided reflection on the application of their learning. Support was provided by volunteer master trainers and the project team. State government stakeholders were fully involved in the programme and publicly endorsed the badges.

Drawing on data from pre-, mid- and post-course surveys and interviews with the teacher participants, this study will examine the relationship between their values, their participation in peer learning before and during the TPD courses, their perceptions of digital badge affordances, and the extent to which they subsequently share their digital badge awards. Few studies have sought to make such connections or capture data about how digital badge earners display and share their achievements, particularly in the Global South. We conclude with a consideration of the significance of our findings in respect of the utilisation of four key affordances of digital badges - scalability, modularity, pedagogic flexibly and shareability - for TPD at scale.

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