Education advisors from Columbia University, in collaboration with Avanti Fellows and Central Square Foundation, are implementing a new course, “Emerging International Education Trends with Focus on the Indian Education System,” in early to mid-2015 at Hindupat Institute of Teacher Training, Jiwaji University in Raghogarh, Madhya Pradesh, India. A pilot to improve teacher education practices and preparation, the course methodology develops teacher education institutions as laboratories for teacher preparation. Student teachers engage with online content followed by peer driven discourses on the application of the content in their classrooms. By incorporating hands-on practice and inquiry, the courses are designed to encourage teachers to be critical thinkers.
Teachers are the most costly resource in schools. No education reform effort is effective and sustainable unless the quality of the teachers is improved. This initiative seeks to address this enormous challenge of disseminating quality teacher education and improved pre-service teacher development through “blended learning,” which mixes online and classroom work, with the potential to scale-up beyond this pilot. Professors from Columbia University Teachers College will work closely with Indian counterparts to develop both online and offline content that reflects national standards, thus making the learning experience at the institute engaging while enhancing student learning outcomes for better practice. In summer 2015, a group of education professionals from the Ministry of Education in Madhya Pradesh will spend several weeks at Teachers College learning components of designing e-courses.
Additional collaboration with Madhya Pradesh state is in discussion with Radhika Iyengar, director of education at the Center for Sustainable Development, The Earth Institute. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, held discussions with Iyengar at the February 2015 Friends of MP Conclave in New York. Four main ideas are being considered for further exploration: 1) involvement of faculty and students from Teachers College in education programs; 2) showcasing the blended course, Emerging International Education Trends with Focus on the Indian Education System; 3) promotion of classes on policy level research and blended learning; and 4) internship opportunities between Teachers College and education colleges in Madhya Pradesh.