Seychelles: Ministry of Education addresses shortfall of trained teachers

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28 October 2015: A five-day Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) technology capacity building workshop for staff of the Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education (Site) is taking place this week.

The workshop, being held at the Site auditorium, was officially launched on Monday by the principal secretary for post-secondary education planning, human resources and infrastructure development Dr Linda Barallon.

PS Barallon said this initiative comes at an opportune time, when Site is not only reviewing its teacher education and training programmes but also venturing into alternative modes of delivery, in line with the Ministry of Education policies on Information Communication Technology (ICT) in education, and the Open Distance Learning (ODL).

“Open and distance learning, and virtual education outdo typical time and space barriers, allowing students to access learning opportunities day and night from various corners of the world. Virtual education is enabling students in full-time employment and with families, to earn qualifications,” she said.

She also pointed out that through the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC), Site’s staff will gain firsthand experience of the latest innovation in education and its potential to transform teacher education in Seychelles.

“They will learn about MOOCs technology and the instructional design for the integration of multimedia in teaching and learning,” she said.

Present during the launch ceremony was Vice-President Danny Faure, the Minister for Education Macsuzy Mondon, principal secretaries, education specialist Commonwealth of Learning (COL) John Lesperance, those taking part in the workshop, among other guests.

The workshop for delivery of online diploma in education has been organised by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the COL through the VUSSC.

During his trip to the Seychelles in August 2015, the VUSSC education specialist held meetings with the Ministry of Education and Site to discuss possible collaboration regarding in-service teacher training using the MOOCs technology through ODL.

Both the Ministry of Education and Site mentioned that Seychelles has a large pool of teachers who are in the teaching profession and are relatively doing a good job but are without a formal teaching qualification and would thus benefit from in-service training that would lead to such a qualification.

Furthermore, there is also a lack of teachers in the country thus making it difficult to release teachers from their duties to follow training at Site.

An expert from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, Professor Taninada Prabhakar, is running the session on MOOCs and Dr Mohammad Santally from the Centre for Innovative and Lifelong Learning of the University of Mauritius will conduct the training on multimedia.

In partnership with IIT, Kanpur, VUSSC has offered a successful course in Climate Change through the University of South Pacific through the use of MOOCs.

So far MOOCs have only been used for short unaccredited courses and Seychelles will be the first country that will be using MOOC as an in-service training leading to formal qualifications, for example a Diploma in Education.

The Ministry of Education/Site will be invited to write a paper on their experience with MOOCs for presentation at the Pan-Commonwealth Conference (PCF8) to be hosted by COL in Malaysia in November 2016.

COL will support Site over a period of two years to provide capacity building, content development and migration, accreditation and delivery of the programme.

COL emphasises MOOC platforms that provide a good learning experience at low bandwidth and offline where necessary.

The mooKIT platform that will be used meets those considerations and has full integration of social media functionality such as Twitter and Facebook.

Learners can actually respond to discussions and assignments from within Twitter and Facebook.

mooKIT is a lightweight MOOC management system conceived, designed and developed at IIT Kanpur.

It has a simple and user-friendly interface that allows students to navigate through the course easily without fatigue and an app-based access is also available for Android users.

mooKIT also has an easy instructor interface that allows creating a course with minimal hassles. Instructors can view or download detailed statistics of the course and a gradebook can also be generated and downloaded.

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