ICT teacher handbook/Professional learning communities

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ICT teacher handbook
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Every profession has its own professional association for learning and sharing. These associations are a method of continuous interactions with fellow practitioners (peers) and allow methods of learning beyond the college or university. You may have learnt about social constructivism and how we learn from each other. Teachers, as professionals too need to connect regularly to their peers, for sharing their experiences, practices as well as insights. They also need to be able to contact peers as well as mentors for seeking support.
However, in the large school system in India, teachers may be isolated in their practice and they may have few opportunities for sharing experiences, reflecting and sharing understanding or seeking solutions for their specific needs and challenges. In the traditional in-service teacher training programmes, the learning is usually at a point in time; teachers learn in workshops, and there is limited opportunity for interactions after that. Teachers may not have formal, organized methods of being in touch with their faculty or with one another to extend the learning after the teacher workshop. There is a need for teachers to organise themselves into learning communities for regular interactions to support peer learning and mentoring.
While professional communities and associations have been there for a long time, ICT have made possible ways of connecting and communicating with each other simpler and more accessible. Online communities are often a good way of continuing interactions beyond the restrictions of meetings of physical time and space. Online communities can be mailing forums or discussion groups and can be accessed either through your phone or the computer. The National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCF-TE, 2010) talks envisions teacher education with the following key components: (i) collaborative networks for learning and sharing, (ii) continuous learning (iii) different paths and spaces for learning. It regards peer learning as an important component of Teacher Professional Development.
Mailing forums are a good way to keep the teacher community in contact with one another and serve as a complement to physical interactions, and provide for learning beyond the workshops. Teachers can use the mailing forums to share their experiences, share resources created by them (including question papers, share activities and ideas for CCE), ask for clarifications, seek feedback, discuss issues in school administration as well.
Professional Learning Communities are a recent method for continuing professional development and by providing teachers with peer support, it can be a sustainable method of development. A state-wide mailing-list can bring all teachers (usually teaching the same subject) together, to discuss and share. PLCs can be created at different levels for different purposes. You should also try to form such a community in your school, with your colleagues, your 'school professional learning community' which will have school development as an important aim. You can also initiate a PLC with your colleague subject teachers in your Mandal or district.