Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Techno Pedagogy -what it means

Information Communication Technology (ICT) programs in development field including Education has been around for many years now. Primarily these were driven by Technology companies or 'IT Vendors' with educationists and as a result education itself taking a back seat.
However, the encouraging news is finally teachers (other than computer teachers) are getting involved in ICT programs in schools. While the technology driven programs of earlier days was mainly confined to computer literacy, recent programs have evolved making subject teachers as the centre in designing the curriculum and integrating technology.
This approach known as Techno Pedagogy which implies the blending of technology with solid pedagogical principles is the way forward for new generation of education reforms. In this approach, ICT will not bypass the regular teaching staff in schools. Techno Pedagogy approach will continue to focus on technology but will have deeper and wider pedagogical relevance.
The University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education prescribe 3 components to develop techno pedagogy skills among teachers. They are: 1. meta-teaching, 2. technology exposure and 3. critical reflection. In Indian context, I find that teachers get to stage 2 without going through stage 1 and get struck there! Also their technology exposure is limited to "operating systems' or "office suite' that does not have any pedagogical relevance. Critical reflection is what is missing.
Thankfully, many organizations in India have realized this gap and are advocating for a more rigorous action, reflection process in the ICT initiatives in schools. This trend should be encouraged and teachers and educationists should come forward to evaluate, reflect and start teaching with technology rather than making technology an end by itself

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Business and Professional Ethics

Last week I was in Madurai as a panelist in a Seminar on Business and Professional Ethics. It was organized by the Dept of Management Studies, Fatima College. This timely theme highlighted many facets of business and ethics. Inevitably, it gravitated towards a discussion on Corporate Social Responsibility . What intrigued me was the speakers invariably gave examples from Western countries. While there are many large and even smaller companies in India which has done work at the grassroots level, none of it was presented. It somehow gave the impression that CSR is the exclusive purview of MNCs working in India.

Finally, one speaker stood up and said what is lacking in India is Self Esteem. We tend to be very negative when it comes to our own people and over enthusiastic when it comes to foreigners. Though India needs to catch up on lot of fronts compared to the advanced countries, if we continue to run down our own people, we will not reach anywhere.

My only prayer at the end of the seminar was: "Where the mind is without fear and the head held high...into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my Country Awake!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

CSR Practitioners -some insights

As more and more Companies embrace CSR there is a corresponding demand for competent professionals in the field. On the supply side, many young management and development professionals are keen to take up a career in corporate affairs. However, after joining they find the tasks ahead daunting and more so when their peers and managers do not recognize the work they do in the communities.The young CSR professionals in large MNCs /corporates do not have anyone to turn to. Sometimes even their reporting managers with a Communications or Marketing background may not understand what exactly they do.This makes them wonder what went wrong. They think they may be a complete misfit.

I find many development professionals who have built up a good career in NGOs coming to me and asking about switching to a career in CSR. Without trying to sound like I am putting them off, I often urge them to study the company that they plan to join and understand the CSR traditions within the company. Another suggestion is to network with CSR professionals, read CSR articles and develop their understanding of the challenges and constraints before venturing into CSR as a profession. If you are attracted only by the 'corporate tag' then you will not be ready to face the challenges ahead.

A recent article in CSR Asia - confessions of a CSR Practitioner brought out this very succintly. The author - a CSR manager - says: "I think one of the most challenging parts of my job is internal misunderstanding of what I do".  My thoughts are resonated exactly in the above quote. It is a fact that CSR practitioners do not do enough internal stakeholder engagement.

Aspiring CSR professionals must be prepared to engage with internal stakeholders, top management in the long haul for their own good. If they are not prepared to take the initiative in educating their peers and managers within their respective companies  -  they may have to re-assess their decision.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

NEN -1st Dot showcase for Student Startups

The other day I was at the National Entrepreneurship Network's first dot showcase for student start ups. Sponsored by IBM and The Wadhwani foundation, the showcase provided a forum for student start ups to well, showcase their business model and interact with mentors and experts.

I had the daunting task of mentoring 2 student start ups. Mentoring techno-savvy youngsters of the digital generation should be challenging and I geared up by brushing up my 'techno-skills' by interacting with my son and daughter - who are way ahead and up to date on matters technical. Brimming with giga-bits of information disdainfully fed by my "i kids'  I felt confident of not getting stumped by my prospective 'mentees' (whoever invented this word needs mentoring!)

After few minutes into the mentoring session, I realized I need not have gone through the troubles of 'updating' my technical knowledge. The 'studentrepreneurs' are very clear that technology is important, but they are not going to 'depend' on it. They were more concerned with how their technology will actually benefit the people.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that both the teams expressed genuine concern for the country, its youth and how their venture could play a part in improving lives of people through technology.

These young start ups are not chasing dollars blindly or just geeks fanatic about their gadgets. These are real social entrepreneurs who wanted to make a difference in society. I liked their motive and conceptual clarity. I returned from the mentoring session with the reassurance that the future of India has its mind and heart in the right place!