We are dependent on other people in our lives for various purposes; a doctor – for our well-being, a lawyer – for justice, a chartered accountant – to take care of our monetary responsibilities; and so on and so forth. And more often than not we wish to trust them completely with details that are of prime importance to us.
Herein lies the dilemma that many people face, especially when often it is evident that these professionals are not well-informed in their fields, or are lagging behind in the latest developments that are taking place in their area of expertise. We are, thus, hesitant to depend on them and entrust them with the responsibility of assisting us, unsure whether they would have the skills to do justice to the job.
It is for this very reason that there should be Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in all professions. In most professions, it is mandatory to pursue short term courses to gather the latest information in the specific field; and only such steps would allow the professional to renew his license to practice. Regrettably, this is not the case in the realm of teaching. Many countries have set up certain CPD norms; but often they differ at the national and local level; and sometimes even from school to school. One of the policies upheld is to insist on a certain number of hours or days of teaching in a certain time period, but that is also an arbitrary one, open to various interpretations.
On the positive side, though, CPD is mandatory in many countries. In India, initiatives have been taken, especially by the NCFTE (National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education) that described an approach for Teacher CPD in 2009-10. It is mandatory for many organisations to implement CPD practices for teachers; some of them being Institutes of Advanced Studies in Education (IASEs), University Departments of Education, and the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs). Refresher courses for teachers are periodically conducted by Academic Staff Colleges (ASE); and it is encouraging to note that the SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan) has made it compulsory for teachers to be trained for atleast 20 days every year.
All this and more are definitely heartening; however, not enough. Much more should be done in this field, not only by the government, but also by educationists like us who strive to make significant changes in the realm of education in our county, and all over the world. As stated by The Curriculum Framework for Quality Teacher Education (NCTE); teachers are the cohesive forces that hold the society together by dissemination of knowledge as well as by creating new ones. Thus it is imperative that they are given periodic professional inputs that reflect the recent developments in the field.
The world around us is changing by leaps and bounds. New learning and teaching processes, new ideas, new information is being created on a daily basis, often replacing the older systems or information. It is the duty of teachers to keep up and embrace these changes for the benefit of the students, so that they are not fed obsolete knowledge or exposed to teaching and learning processes that have been proven to be outdated and not too effective. For this very purpose, CPD is necessary.
However, it has been observed that mostly new teachers volunteer to undergo such trainings and are willing to adapt these new strategies in their work process. They view such trainings as a means to develop themselves professionally. On the other hand, longer serving teachers are more set in their views and feel comfortable teaching the way they had done all the past years. They are a bit hesitant to adopt the new systems or disseminate the new knowledge that is on offer. Thus it would be better if CPD is aimed mostly on such teachers so that they, as well as their students benefit from it.
The question arises as to how CPD may be done, especially in a large country like India where there are innumerable teachers teaching in innumerable schools. The answer lies in the tool of the 21st century; it being the computer. Online courses, teaching materials and teacher communities may be accessed easily on the net, without much investment in time or money. Online CPD options have been proven to be much effective in replacing traditional methods of teaching with more modern and effective methods. Traditional methods of teaching, as stated by 2013 TED prize winner SugataMitra, is a prototype of the Victorian educational model created 300 years ago. Such methods create the ‘human computer’; each student armed with similar skills in reading, writing and arithmetic; each student just a reflection of another in all aspects. Add to that other liabilities like high costs, difficult to access, high dropout rates; etc, and the picture is complete. Juxtapose this traditional system with the modern system that is delivered online at the click of a mouse, and it is evident which is smarter, convenient, cost effective, and much more accessible. Such a system is not only easy to access, but also encourages and allows learners to continue their learning process life long, as it is a known fact that knowledge does not have an end.
And last but not the least, such online courses ensures equality of opportunities to all, irrespective of place, race, class, gender, or social, cultural or economic conditions.
Sabnis, Atul (2015).Continuous Professional Development in teaching need of the hour. Retrieved from: http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/report-continuous-professional-development-in-teaching-need-of-the-hour-2064479
Is Online Learning The Future Of Continuing Education? Retrieved from: http://continuingprofessionaldevelopment.org/is-online-learning-the-future-of-continuing-education/