Teacher professional learning with digital media: The OER4Schools programme in sub-Saharan Africa

Björn Hassler
Faculty of Education, Centre for Commonwealth Education & Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies, University of Cambridge, UK

Sub-Saharan Africa and SE Asia need many more and better qualified teachers to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education. Many children leave 6 or 7 years of primary school without basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Our ongoing research programme in Zambia supports teachers in embedding interactive methods of teaching and learning into classroom practice through exploiting digital technologies. It moves beyond ‘fragmented’ technology- and skills-focused initiatives by highlighting the crucial role of teacher support in promoting innovation and experimentation with teaching styles. We aim to develop teachers’ capability to use portable technologies, Open Educational Resources and Open Source software effectively to support students’ learning in mathematics and science through active participation, dialogue and collaborative enquiry. Our participatory approach particularly values the ‘voices’ of everybody involved. The research is founded on what is known to be effective in teacher education and classroom teaching in sub-Saharan Africa and devises practical tools for teachers and teacher educators that are underpinned by clear pedagogical principles. As an outcome of our programme, we devised a professional learning resource for low-resourced primary schools in Zambia. The resource is freely available as an Open Educational Resource (www.oer4schools.org). It builds on an established, sustained teacher-led process for sharing and trialling new ideas, resources and practices; peer observation; discussion and joint reflection.

A key element of our resource are unique, professionally filmed video exemplars of interactive practices in Zambian and South African classrooms, together with accompanying texts and other materials co-authored with in-country partners. The videos serve as a stimulus for discussion during teacher group meetings and workshops (rather than to demonstrate “good practice”).

In this session we explore ideas around pedagogy, ICT, and Open Educational Resources, and how these are related to the use of video, particularly in the context of international development, and teacher education in Africa.

We are running a related session as part of the Opencast Unconference, to explore related ideas in the context of Opencast Unconference.

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