ICT Curricula (Detailed)
The National Policy on ICT in school education has set the goal of preparing youth to participate creatively in the establishment, sustenance and growth of a knowledge society leading to all round socio-economic development of the nation and to be geared for global competitiveness.
The National Curriculum Framework which guides the teaching-learning effort in schools cautions that technology used as a mere medium to disseminate infor- mation tends to bypass the teacher. It expresses a firm belief that teachers and children must be treated not merely as consumers but also as active producers. It is the two-way interactivity rather than one-way reception that would make the technology educational.
The present curricula for ICT in education is a step towards realizing the goals of both the National Policy and the National Curriculum Framework. It has factored in the rapid evolution of technologies and the ground realities of Indian school systems. For the teacher, it is an initiation into exploring educational possibilities of technology, learning to make the right choices of hardware, software and ICT interactions, and more importantly, growing to become a critical user of ICT. For the student, it is an initiation into creativity, problem solving, and an introduction to the world of information and technologies which could also shape career pursuits.
ICT distinguish themselves from other technologies by their rapid evolution, defeating attempts to define a curriculum which can serve the schools for a while. Keeping up with the changes require constant upgradation and at times, unavoidable replacements, which makes it an expensive proposition. Given the dynamic nature of the field, the curricula, emphasising the core educational purposes, are generic by design and focus on a broad exposure to technologies aimed at enhanc- ing the creativity and imagination of the learners.
Recognising that teachers as a group represent varying levels of exposure to ICT, the curriculum for teachers attempts to fast track them into becoming pro- ficient users of ICT by defining milestones and an evaluation system that allows for teachers to assess their readiness and decide their pace through the course.
Based on the size of the school, the infrastructure available and other related issues like availability of electricity, students may have varying access to the ICT facilities and resources. The student’s curriculum, therefore, is designed as a three year course spanning 90 weeks with three sessions per week.
Schools may opt to begin the curricular programme as early as sixth grade (beginning of the upper primary stage), in any case completing the programme before the student leaves school. The ICT curriculum is a common programme for all students in school. As such it is distinct from any optional subject at the plus two stage and distinct from any vocational education programme under the NVEQF.
The curricula are built around a set of guiding principles, enabling any school system to provide the right exposure to emerging technologies to build capabilities in teachers and students, not only to use technology comfortably, but also employ them judiciously to enhance their learning.
The requirements of the curricula are not to be hardware or software specific. Undoing the general trend of limiting software to office applications, which are not only ill suited for educational purposes but also tend to narrow down th e view of what computers and ICT can achieve, a wide range of software applications specifically designed for education are introduced. Use of proprietary software would become very expensive and make the implementation unviable. Therefore, Free and Open Source software have been suggested throughout the curricula. The use of FOSS applications will also obviate software piracy and enable customisation to suit local needs.
The curricula underscore the need for internet connectivity of adequate band- width, particularly for teachers as access to the internet is no more a matter of choice. The educational potential of internet resources and interactions are im- mense. It also serves the essential purpose of connecting teachers and schools to each other and contributing to bridging of divides.
Responding to the National Curriculum Framework’s observation that treating e-content as yet another teaching aid trivialises the potential of this medium and has detrimental effects on teaching-learning practices and the role of the teacher, the teachers’ curriculum emphasises the involvement of teachers in the creation of e-content, its sharing with peers and its critical evaluation. Taking cognizance of parallel efforts like the National Repository of Open Education Resources, the curriculum encourages the participation of teachers in its collaborative platform to share such evaluated creations.
1. The curricula shall be generic, drawing upon the features of a wide range of technological applications and focussing on educational purposes.
2. The focus of the curricula shall be on learning to compute, which includes learning to create using a variety of hardware and software tools. ICT literacy, defined as the knowledge and ability to wield tools and devices, shall be an incidental outcome of this learning.
3. The curricula shall provide adequate opportunity for hands on learning and open ended exploration of ICT applications. Sharing of learning and critical evaluation of the learning shall be integral to the strategy.
4. A healthy ICT environment requires heightened awareness of the social, eth- ical and legal aspects of its use. Software piracy and plagiarism shall be explicitly denounced and discouraged. Creation of original content, taking pride in the creation and duly recognising others’ contributions shall be pro- moted. Safe and secure use of ICT shall also be promoted.
5. The curricula shall promote the full utilisation of infrastructure and resources, integrating it with the school’s programme. Universal access and fostering of a sense of ownership shall be encouraged to ensure maximum impact. Innovative ways of reaching the unreached shall be promoted.
3. Part 1: ICT Curriculum for Teachers
The teachers’ curriculum is considered a significant vehicle for the realisation of the goals of the National Curriculum Framework and consequently is designed to provide an enhanced exposure to information and resources for ongoing professional support, improved teaching-learning-evaluation-tracking, and increased productivity.
The National Policy on ICT in School Education organises the competencies for ICT Literacy into three broad levels, basic, intermediate and advanced, and the curriculum subsumes them.
3.1 Competencies defined in the National Policy on ICT in School Education
Stage 1: Basic
Basics of computers and basic use of tools and techniques operate a com- puter, store, retrieve and manage data, use a computer to achieve basic word and data processing tasks; connect, disconnect and troubleshoot basic storage, input and output devices.
Connect to the internet, use e-mail and web surfing, use search engines; keep the computer updated and secure; operate and manage content from external devices (sound recorders, digital cameras, scanners etc.); connect, disconnect, operate and troubleshoot digital devices.
Stage 2: Intermediate
Create and manage content using a variety of software applications and digi- tal devices; using web sites and search engines to locate, retrieve and manage content, tools and resources; install, uninstall and troubleshoot simple soft ware applications.
Stage 3: Advanced
Use different software applications to enhance one’s own learning–database applications, analysis of data and problem solving, computing, design, graphical and audio-visual communication; undertake research and carry out projects using web resources; use ICT for documentation and presentation; create and participate in web based networks for cooperative and collaborative learning; become aware of issues of cyber security, copyright and safe use of ICT and take necessary steps to protect oneself and ICT resources.
The content of the curriculum involves activities which simultaneously draw upon competencies from different levels, such that a completion of all levels is ensured.
3.2 The Learning Strands
The learning strands seek to build capacities to handling today’s and tomorrow’s technologies appropriate for use in education, capitalizing on technology to master technology, managing the ICT infrastructure, using technology to surmount bar- riers and to acquiring insights to lead technology educationally. The six strands are:
1. Connecting with the world
2. Connecting with each other
3. Creating with ICT
4. Interacting with ICT
5. Possibilities in education
6. Reaching out and bridging divides
3.2.1 Connecting with the World
ICT tools enable anytime, anywhere access to information and resources. Given the proliferation of internet connectivity, the curriculum recognises the fact that being connected to the internet offers tremendous benefits to teachers in terms of capabilities to access information and resources of various kinds and to utilize them in their teaching-learning. Not only will these add to the range of techniques that teachers use, but also make a difference to their students learning. The ability to critically review and use the resources will be an essential input to teachers professional development.
Becoming aware of the range of materials the web offers for the teachers’ own learning as well resources for their teaching; critical appraisal of the informa- tion and resources; safe, productive, ethical and legal use of these resources; and protecting oneself and others from the harmful effects of the virtual medium is fundamental to every teacher’s learning.
Therefore, the strand introduces teachers to the internet and its resources; using browsers and search engines; choosing appropriate sites; search and retrieval of information and resources; different kinds of websites and interactivity; navigating the web, bookmarks, subscriptions to services and products; downloading infor mation and resources; awareness of formats and techniques; copyright and safety issues; uploading and sharing information; and transactions through internet.
3.2.2 Connecting with Each Other
ICT tools also enable a variety of ways to keep people connected. Synchronous and asynchronous modes increase the degree of interactivity and help create communities, which can then collaborate to form interest groups for a common cause.
While at the bare minimum, it enables a very rapid way of communicating with a friend, it can be leveraged to break teachers’ isolation and promote professional growth.
Becoming aware of various communication possibilities, becoming interested in and participating in professional communities and keeping abreast with newer ways of communicating are essential to keep the teachers in sync with developments of technology and updated about developments in her own discipline and in educational practice.
Learning to create an email ID; send and receive emails; store and manage communication; handle attachments; maintain address books; form or join email forums; participate in discussion forums, wikis, video and audio conferencing, social networks, blogging and microblogging; become aware of cyber bullying and other social issues are essential parts of teachers’ cyber kit.
3.2.3 Creating with ICT
ICT tools are not seen as an end in themselves but as an opportunity to create and express. Modern ICT employ a variety of media forms – text, graphics, animation, audio and video, enabling a rich communication. Easy, friendly ways have been discovered to interact with ICT. Together they expand enormously the range of learning that can accrue.
Software applications and hardware devices have become increasingly versatile and cater to a variety of learning needs. The wider the range of tools, devices, software applications and techniques that teachers are aware of and can productively use, the wider will be the opportunities for developing their imagination and expression. Treating a computer as a mere information delivery device will lead to a gross underutilisation of its capabilities and diminish its use for teaching-learning.
With access to a range of tools and devices, the repertoire of communication skills will also increase. The teachers’ ability to leverage the interactive features into teaching-learning will also extend the range of activities students can be involved in and learn from.
Creating, curating, managing images and documents; repurposing them into communications; gathering and processing data and presenting them; working with audio and video tools to create media rich communications; learning to program and control devices and processes, become important to teachers.
3.2.4 Interacting with ICT
ICT are evolving at a very rapid pace. The type of device, its operating processes, the purpose for which the tool is to be deployed the range of essential learning in ICT is ever increasing. While the computer has evolved to take on more and more complex tasks, the interface itself has become simpler by the day. From the days of a command line interface to an app based touch interface, computers have become extremely productive, finding uses in more and more applications, particularly in the daily routine of every common man.
Understanding how ICT systems operate and an appreciation of the range of ICT tools available today can help identify opportunities for teaching-learning. Extensive use also helps make informed decisions in selecting the most appropriate tools for education.
A computer today is not just a large calculator but an integrated communication medium. Expectedly, the more the functions, the more the complexity. The free participatory ways in which this technology has grown has also brought in diverse ways in which different hardware and software achieve similar tasks. Keeping abreast of the technology becomes a challenge. At the same time, trying to learn every new tool in a rote manner would not be fruitful either. A broad conceptual understanding of how ICT devices and tools work, along with an operational knowledge of safe and efficient use of ICT is the aim, together with learning basic ways to troubleshoot and working around problems.
Connecting input and output devices – printers, scanners, webcam, digital camera, sound recorder, projector, headphone; using storage devices and optical disks; mounting and dismounting devices; connecting to the internet – modem, data card, Wi-Fi, LAN; bandwidth and connection speeds; software installation; using , different operating systems; file management; settings and configurations; enabling regional language support; troubleshooting and basic repair; virus protection and safety of equipment and user form the strand’s focus.
3.2.5 Possibilities in Education
ICT capabilities have led to a wide variety of educational applications. Software applications which extend learning, immerse students in experimentation and problem solving, make available data sets to process and retrieve information from are commonly used in education. Online resources – books, courses, media materials have become common. Interactive possibilities, individual users interacting with packaged material or groups of people interacting with each other have opened up ways in which teaching-learning is transacted.
While the glamour and novelty of the medium attracts everyone, becoming a discerning, critical user of ICT is very essential. Sugar coating of information cannot constitute enriching of experience. Learning to acquire insights into how ICT operate and impact teaching-learning, what forms of media and information can be appropriate to learning, how educational goals can become the arbiter of choices made in ICT, assessment and evaluation of ICT tools, devices, information and resources are very important, if cost effective and meaningful ICT has to be promoted. This strand therefore forms the bridge between the aspirations of the education system and the run away developments in ICT.
The strand involves exploration and experimentation with open education resources (OER)– access, use and evaluation, creation and contribution of educational resources; research and critical appraisal of the utility and effectiveness of ICT devices and tools; familiarity with virtual environments for self-learning and teaching-learning; familiarity with the web and its range of resources; productivity tools and their meaningful use; tools and forums for planning, organising, teaching-learning, assessment and evaluation; tools and forums for professional growth.
3.2.6 Reaching Out and Bridging Divides
ICT has become available widely, overcoming geographical and social boundaries. But this has not naturally ensured access to its benefits to all. ICT itself has evolved techniques – a DVD or a music player as examples of portability, forums as examples of public helplines and support, public sharing and open educational resources; a wide range of free and open source software - auguring well for improved access.
Language barriers and professional isolation can deny students and teachers access to the wide range of digital information and resources. Becoming aware of, experimenting with, participation in and creation of resources and support aimed at those denied access will help reach out and bridge the divides. Physically challenged, particularly the visually impaired and the auditorily impaired cannot access information as easily.
The theme will involve an exposure to building digital communities; understanding the need for and evolving a shared agenda; creating, sharing, and curating resources for teacher and student communities; community radio; local language tools and local content, translators and translations; subtitling video; disability and assistive technologies – screen readers for the visually impaired; audio books; talking books; collaborative possibilities – wikis, open maps, data repositories and forums.
4 Part 2: ICT Curriculum for Students
Guided by the National Policy on ICT in School Education (see §3.1), the curriculum for students is designed to promote creativity, problem solving, and introduce students to the world of information and communication technologies with the specific purpose of widening their horizons and better informing them of choices in their career pursuits. In particular, the curriculum focusses on training the student to working with a variety of resources; learning to critically appraise information and resources; and making safe, productive, ethical and legal use of these resources a habit.
Students are also introduced to ICT outside the classroom context. Their curiosity and desire to learn will prompt them to more intensely participate in ICT activities. While introduction to social networks and blogging would become inevitable, making them aware of cyber bullying or other means of violating their rights should become an essential part of the training. While experimenting with hard and software the range of learning is very high. Channelising these tendencies and co-opting them into the teaching-learning process can help teachers create able support to the ICT system in the school.
The impact of ICT on the overall development of the personality can be extremely significant. In particular its effect on the improvement of communication skills is treated as a central goal of the ICT curriculum.
Language barriers and isolation can deny students access to the wide range of digital information and resources. Physically challenged, particularly the visually impaired and the auditorily impaired need additional support. Heightened awareness on the part of the system will help address these students’ problems of access.
Based on the availability of ICT infrastructure and the provisioning of an ICT class in the timetable, different schools or Boards of School Education can exercise the choice to begin the ICT programme with any appropriate class, but ensure that every student completes the advanced stage outlined in the National Policy on ICT in School Education before completing schooling.
This curriculum is recommended for use with students of classes 6-12. It should not be used at the primary stage (classes 1 to 5). A structured ICT programme at the primary stage is not desirable and can be counter productive.
The curriculum expects an allocation of three sessions per week and thirty weeks per year for the course work. The course spans three years.
4.1 The Learning Strands
The ICT curriculum for students is also conceived as an important vehicle for the realisation of the goals of the National Curriculum Framework. It attempts to introduce students to a dynamic, immensely popular field, exposing them to a wide range of information and resources, motivating them to explore and participate in. It can not only support learning, but also introduce them to diverse activities
which challenge their intellect and imagination.
To this end, the curriculum is organised into four strands:
1. Connecting with the world
2. Connecting with each other
3. Creating with ICT
4. Interacting with ICT
The scope of these strands remain the same as that for teachers. In terms of activities however, the syllabus articulates content differently, taking into consideration the age profile of students, their unique needs and the objective of preparing them for their future.