Technology Savvy Teachers
Five educators relate how Malaysian teachers have benefited from the Intel Teach Programme, which celebrates a decade of innovative teaching practices this year, writes SUZIEANA UDA NAGU
THERE was a time when typing out essays on a word processor passed as “integration of technology into the teaching of language”.
English language lecturer Jayanti S Sothinathan recalls this as being a dilemma which English teachers faced a decade ago.
“They did not know what language skills they could teach using a computer. (So) they taught students how to type out essays on Microsoft Word and ask them to hand these in as assignments,” says the teacher trainer from Education Ministry’s English Language Teaching Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
Teacher trainers, on the other hand, were at a loss to explore creative ways to encourage teachers to use multimedia in the classroom back then.
Four years ago, Jayanti discovered new ways of teaching English through Intel Teach Programme, which focuses on training teachers — using project-based learning model — to effectively integrate technology into the classroom.
Being an Intel Teach trainer has been an enriching experience for Jayanti who says the programme has given her “the choice of how to teach and learn” and opened up opportunities to present papers — on how it has helped teachers and students become technology savvy and effective learners — at conferences.
Jayanti is one of more than 70,000 Malaysian teachers who have undergone the Intel Teach which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
Over eight million pre-service and in-service teachers in more than 60 nations have received the training.
Senior lecturer Chua Lay Siok from Institute of Teacher Education Bahasa Melayu campus says the programme, formerly known as Intel Teach to the Future, also seeks to arm students with “21st century skills such as technology and digital literacy, effective communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration to prepare them for the knowledge economy”.
Ultimately, it aims to transform classrooms into an enquiry-based environment that fosters peer learning among teachers and students.
As far as lecturer Ooi Say Tin — an Intel Teach trainer since 2000 — is concerned, the programme has gone from strength to strength.
“Initially, the skills that were taught to teachers were basic, such as how to create Powerpoint presentations and upload them to websites,” says Ooi, who teaches at the Institute of Teacher Education, International Languages campus.
Technological advances mean that the Intel Teach syllabi change over time and have since incorporated the latest web tool technology such as webinar and blogs.
“Technology has changed the way people learn. So teachers should also keep abreast of the development of technology and incorporate it into their lessons,” she adds.
Indeed, educators today are faced with a unique challenge as they have to engage with Generation Z students — commonly known as the Net Generation — who are highly connected and completely comfortable navigating the World Wide Web, instant messaging, text messaging, MP3 players and mobile phones.
To prepare young learners for the future, teachers need to be equipped with the same set of skills.
Project-based learning and higher order thinking skills are among the proven methods that teachers and trainers are exposed to through Intel Teach.
Institute of Teacher Education Islamic Education campus lecturer Dr Bushro Ali says: “The concept requires learners to be resourceful.
“They have to do research and find data to solve problems that they encounter while executing their projects. These lessons enable students and trainees to acquire key skills indirectly,” she adds.
It is crucial that learners be discerning and selective about the kinds of information they access in the age of information overload.
“You can get lots of knowledge on the Internet but learning needs to be meaningful and authentic. When students and teacher trainees take part in project-based learning, they also learn to deal with real-life issues and help solve problems affecting their immediate communities,” says Jayanti.
Technology-aided learning garnered encouraging response from teachers once they overcome their fear of technology. Teachers who used to be technophobes have since become technophiles.
“When Intel Teach came to my school, teachers who had taught for a long time were afraid of technology. But now they are computer savvy,” says Mathematics teacher Liew Tho Lip from Kolej Tun Datu Tuanku Haji Bujang in Miri, Sarawak.
It appears that ICT courses are always in demand — teachers sign up the minute they know about any training in ICT.
Incorporating ICT into lessons has not only boosted students’ interest in learning but also their social skills.
Liew notices how Form Three students in his school who have been exposed to project-based learning since two years ago have learned to work effectively as a group.
“Initially, students struggled to work as a team. They were highly competitive and unwilling to share among their teammates.
“After a few projects, they refer not only to teachers but also their peers for opinion. They like to collaborate on projects and have become less individualistic. They respect each other,” says Liew.
A welcome spin-off of Intel Teach is the fact that teachers and students learn from each other.
“It is a win-win situation all around,” says Ooi.
It appears Intel Teach will continue to benefit teachers and students in Malaysia in years to come.
Intel Malaysia K-12 Education programme manager Hasnan Hakim says: “We are committed to continuing this programme as long as there is demand from teachers and support from the Education Ministry.” The scheme may introduce other forms of content such as Intel Teach Elements in Malaysia. Teach Elements is a series of short courses which offers self-paced or facilitated methods available online and offline.
“This will allow us to reach even more teachers who cannot physically attend training,” adds Hasnan.
The Learning Curve
12 December 2010