DIET Uttara Kannada - Digital competencies mastery workshop

An ICT Capacity Building Workshop was held for the DIET Faculty of Kumta from 28th to 30th of April, 2011. This workshop was held as part of the project “Academic strengthening and linkages of DIET and BRC effectively by using ICT”.

The objectives of this project is :

  1. Using internet tools & web resources to collaborate and create digital learning resources.
  2. Better interaction between DIET & BRC using ICT & to strengthen DIET - BRC relationship.
  3. Easy and regular sharing of information, supporting and monitoring through internet and emails – between BRC & DIET.
  4. Improve techno – pedagogical capacities and make knowledge resources of our district to be available to all.

The Kumta DIET has a total of 11 BRCs under it. It has been difficult for them to keep in touch with each other. Therefore, ICTs become essential for the DIET and the BRCS as a tool to share, learn, communicate and monitor each other. The aim of this workshop was to increase the comfort level of the participants for the use of Open Office applications and basic email and Internet resources.

Click here for the workshop agenda.

On the first day, the participants concentrated on learning Open Office Writer. They realised that there is no great difference between Open Office and MS Office. They were also trained on some advanced features of Open Office writer. This included: how to make a table of contents and how to include track changes. Open Office Writer is a simple powerful way to create knowledge in a text form, collaborate to modify/enrich their material etc. It helps share information in a structured manner. The table of contents function helps in easy access to different sections making accessing knowledge easier. The track changes function offers a new method of collaboration to create a document. Track changes is especially important for this project as there is a lot of collaborative work involved. These features were new to the participants but they were able to pick it up quickly. Kannada typing was also practised. On the morning session of the second day, the participants were trained on Open Office Presentation and Open Office Spreadsheet. This as well they picked up easily.

Other than this, we also showed them Tux Typing (a free and open source software to practise typing). As it is only through efficient typing that they will be comfortable preparing documents on the computer. The afternoon session concentrated on sending and receiving of email and attaching files while sending email. The participants found this session extremely useful as even though they had email ids, they were not used to emailing on a regular basis. Thus most of them had forgotten the process.
We also made email ids for those who did not have any. Email is the most popular method today for sharing knowledge, communicating learnings and experiences. Email is also a written record of a conversation that happens. It is easy to search and store emails and thus access to previous conversations become easier and it is all on record. Thus, there is a sense of officialness to them. Once the participants were comfortable with basic emailing, they were trained on how to create folders on web mail, make their signature etc. All participants were then added to the group id: Thus, they learnt how to send mails to group and individual ids and the difference between the two.

The third morning of the workshop was spent in practising some of the tools that they had learnt during the last two days. Since an important aspect of the workshop was collaboration between the faculty to summarise the National Curriculum Framework Position Papers of Science and Maths, the participants divided themselves into two groups. One groups focussed on summarising the executive summary of NCF Maths in Kannada while the other group focussed on NCF Science.
The participants also practised some advanced tools like inserting table of contents, page numbers, header footer etc. in this document. They then each mailed it to the google groups asking for feedback. The assignment for the participants was to look at each others summary, give their suggestions as track changes and mail it back to the group. The document will then be finalised by the group who initially worked on it.

The National Curriculum Framework is important to discuss as it discusses about collaborative teaching-learning. Digital methods allow for collaborative construction of knowledge. It is through such digital methods that the NCF, once translated into Kannada, can be available any time anywhere for other DIETs as well. During the afternoon session of the last day of the workshop, the participants were introduced to blogging on the site Some of them attached the summaries that they had made to their blogs and asked for feedback. They also commented on other peoples blogs. This portal aims to create a community amongst Karnataka educators which will allow for sharing collaborating publishing etc. A blog is like a e-journal and allows educators to write down their thoughts, ideas etc. The discussion forum on the site is like an online conference where discussions on various issues can take place.

The last session of the workshop was where the participants were introduced to some Internet resources like google translator, images, scholar, books, calendar etc. Internet is the most powerful information source and relevant to all teachers/educators. There is a need for educators to develop the habit of referring to the Internet on an every day basis. The participants were introduced to some websites like wikipedia in kannada and some english-kannada online dictionaries. They were also shown how to send free smses through Way2sms is an extremely useful website which helps officials connect to large number of their colleagues in a simple, quick, easy manner through sms. As everyone has mobiles this is a simple method of communication During the workshop, we also covered some troubleshooting or basic issues which the faculty could face at a later stage. They were trained on how to connect the projector, how to connect the printer, how to install Kannada fonts, installation of Ubuntu etc. We installed Thunderbird on one machine and showed the senior faculty how to use it. The public ownership aspect of Public software means all of us need to learn to play our own part in its creation and sustenance. Hence not feel like 'customers' but as participants in the use of knowledge tools.

The faculty at Kumta are extremely enthusiastic and eager to learn. During the three days, they regularly came to us with doubts and kept practising what was being taught to them. They have enormous potential in enhancing their ICT use for all their day-to-day administrative and academic tasks. After this workshop, the participants will work on translating the executive summaries of NCF position papers of Mathematics and Science. They will also have regular Saturday sessions to practise using computers. The next workshop will look at more advanced ICT tools like video conferencing, video and audio editing etc.