Leveraging Technology to transform learning and to increase scale and scope
I. Building a Dynamic Web-enabled Educational Platform that:
- Collects and curates knowledge from islands of innovation around India and the world to engage students and educators;
- Creates and conducts courses and other learning opportunities for teacher educators, teachers and students;
- Connects the system’s own teacher educators, teachers and students with each other, and with education innovators and social researchers;
- Unites them in ongoing processes of collaborative 21st century learning and knowledge creation.
II. Forging Institutional Partnerships for Teacher Development
TFC partners with Teacher Education and other Resource institutions for the collaborative engagement of teachers, teacher educators and other learners on the shared platform, towards creating 21st Century classrooms across India.
Strategic Rationale: Creating a Model for Decentralized, Transformative and Generative Education (The Starfish and the Spider*)
In a seminal study of teaching practice in India, Ramachandran et al. (2009)1 lament the absence of a platform for professional dialogue across disciplinary boundaries and levels of education:
There is an urgent need to create platforms and mechanisms which enable teachers to interact as professionals, not only among themselves but also with other professionals such as scientists, scholars and college teachers. A churning of sorts is needed and teachers have to be at the heart of this churning. If sustained over a long enough period, these ‘spaces’ for constructive engagement with the reality of Indian schooling are likely to catalyze changes from within. (Ramachandran, 2009, p. 72)1
The Ferdinand Centre’s web-enabled platform will engage teams of educators and education leaders to kick-start generative and collaborative innovation in order to improve teaching on the ground, simultaneously triggering communities of learning and practice, thus promoting a “Starfish” model of decentralized knowledge creation. Built on the assertion that “the collective knowledge of the entire…professional community is far more powerful than any handful of experts” (Brafman and Beckstrom, 2006, p. 171)2, the “open” platform will serve as a mechanism to support, share, and scale up innovations and new knowledge without imposing proprietary thinking, territorial or institutional identity (Dave-Chakravarty & Keats, 2012)3 This process-based approach to learning and teaching provides an action-metaphor for the kind of democratic and transformative learning opportunities educators must create in their classrooms, generating a collaborative process of dialogue with new ideas and diverse perspectives, as they create and trial curriculum for programs suited to their own contexts (Dave-Chakravarty & Keats, 2012)3.
The Starfish model of transformative change can be expected to lead to:
- A network of multiple teacher development institutions—university, SCERT, RIE, NGO—collaborating with TFC and/or each other,
- A better understanding of what is needed to effectively prepare teachers and students to take charge of their own learning and to become engaged citizens of democratic India,
- Multiple teams of teacher educators empowered to generate, trial and share need-based, contextually relevant courses for teachers and students, thereby triggering
- Multiple communities of learning and practice, all generating locally relevant new knowledge on an ongoing basis, and adding to
- A growing library of open-source high-quality curricular materials, leading to
- Increasing numbers of socially aware students ready for higher education and work, and
- A burgeoning culture of collaboration for rights-based, 21st C education.
* Starfish Principles:
- Decentralized groups that function as communities: real or virtual
- Catalyzed by a powerful idea
- Forming circles of membership, autonomous and free from hierarchy
- Governed by common norms rather than rules
- Thriving, growing, replicating and evolving
Brafman, O.; Beckstrom, R. A. (2008). The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
- Ramachandran, V., Bhattacharjea, S. &Sheshagiri, K.M. (2009). Primary school teachers: The twists and turns of everyday practice. Educational Resource Unit, New Delhi.
- Brafman, O. & R. Beckstrom (2006). The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, New York: Penguin.
- Davé Chakravarty, S. & Keats, A. (2012). Education Resource Collaborative: Transformative Solutions for 21st Century Education in India. Paper presented at Conference on Global Educational Policy Challenges, Harvard Graduate School of Education.