Adapting and Scaling Teacher Professional Development Approaches in Ghana, Honduras and Uzbekistan

Project Information
Project Status: Ongoing
Implementing Organization/s:
Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development, Inc. (FIT-ED) [Lead], SUMMA, Worldreader, UNESCO
Funder/s:
International Development Research Centre / Global Partnership for Education Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (GPE-KIX)
Duration:
April 2020 to January 2023

Location/s:
Ghana, Honduras, Uzbekistan
Project Leader:
Victoria L. Tinio, Executive Director, FIT-ED

Contact:
Clarisse Gomez
Senior Program Manager
FIT-ED
Email

Ghana

Overview

The Ghana implementation of the multi-country research project “Adapting and Scaling Teacher Professional Development Approaches in Ghana, Honduras and Uzbekistan” under GPE-KIX is co-led by FIT-ED country partner Worldreader Ghana and the Ghana Ministry of Education’s National Teaching Council (NTC), and includes liaison with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the Ghana Education Service, as well as facilitating engagement from regional, district and school stakeholders. 

The TPD@Scale models leverage a Moodle education platform hosted by NTC and seeks to deliver TPD through a combination of digital and in-person professional learning and support. The Moodle platform had been previously used by NTC in partnership with Commonwealth of Learning but was transferred to NTC ownership as part of the KIX TPD@Scale project.  Moving forward it will be used by NTC for future teacher professional development in Ghana.  

Key Features of the Ghana Model

The ICT-enabled TPD@Scale models in Ghana were designed to support teachers to own their professional growth while also meeting the Ghana National Teacher Standards (NTS). These guiding principles around quality professional knowledge, practicum, and professional attitudes (National Teaching Council, 2018, p 12) underpin the models in the following ways:  

  • Professional Knowledge: Through NTC’s Moodle platform, teachers are able to enroll in courses throughout the year, gain new skills and abilities by enrolling in a marketplace of courses relevant to their needs and acquiring continuous professional development points to support career development.  
  • Professional Practice:  Courses on the NTC platform are designed for a combination of self-learning both without and within the classroom. “Learning through practice”—classroom application—is built into the course. 
  • Professional Attitudes/Values: The model allows for peer-to-peer learning (through online and school-based professional learning communities) in addition to expert mentoring. This is critical to the localization and increased need for TPD to be relevant to teacher’s daily lives and problems of practice.

     

     

These models are in response to the current challenges in Ghana and globally to meet the need of in-service TPD quickly and at scale.  

The model is a blended learning model in that it leverages a combination of in-person and digital support. Courses are designed by the government and NTC approved service providers in Ghana, creating a learning marketplace that allows districts, head teachers, and individual teachers the opportunity to choose courses of relevance to their practice and work. 

The NTC Moodle platform and Worldreader course are also accessible for offline learning, though many teachers and Master trainers need support to understand how to use and support teachers working offline.  Moodle is accessed online via a generated weblink, which is accessible to teachers via various communication channels and social media platforms at the national and district level. 

What is the teacher journey? 

The NTC platform is accessible on any data-enabled phone, tablet, or computer.  Teachers can enroll in any course using their National Teacher Identification Number. Enrollment is designed to be communicated through district and national NTC and Ghana Education Service (GES) circulars and open for a two-week period.  Social media channels are also to be used for course enrollment information and awareness where appropriate.

Enrollment and Participation. Teachers are enrolled through two avenues represented in the two graphics. 

The first route is digital enrollment by individual teachers seeking professional development opportunities and accreditation points. Teachers find the course through the NTC portal and communications, or by referral from a peer in their community. This is the digital model. 

The second route is prompted by a call or text messages from the district education office for teachers to participate in the course as it runs in their district. While initial connectivity is critical for enrollment through the NTC portal, accommodations for enrollment in schools and districts are considered for teachers with connectivity challenges or poor digital literacy skills. This is the district partnership model. 

Digital Model. Once registered, the teachers join the digital course on NTC’s Moodle platform and are assigned by the NTC course facilitator to a group of up to 50 teachers where they meet their course moderator. The course moderator is known as a Master Trainer (MT), and s/he supports teachers with course activities assesses their progress and troubleshoots challenges. Each MT has received training from both NTC and the course service provider. The MT communicates with teachers using both the Moodle platform and external social messaging services. MTs holds weekly synchronous sessions with teachers in digital learning communities where tasks and/or assessments are discussed. MTs also send reminders to course participants and sometimes initiate telephone calls to troubleshoot problems with teachers who are struggling with the course.   MTs are expected to work an average of 10 hours a week supporting their 50 teachers, grading assignments, and holding group Zoom calls once a week. Social messaging platforms have been found to be highly useful for quick reminders to all teachers in the group and are particularly useful for teachers who may be on the Moodle platform intermittently or have a lower ICT skills level.  As most teachers are highly familiar with social messaging platforms, they are almost universally acceptable.  However in the case of teachers in rural communities and remote places, challenges with connectivity can prevent effective use of social messaging platforms.

District Support Model. Through the district support model, teachers are enrolled in the course with support from the district education office and a designated district support team. They may hear about the course from their head teacher or school improvement support officer (SISO), or through regular communications from NTC and their district education office. The teachers join the Moodle platform, with support from the district support team as needed, and are assigned a group based on their school circuit to ensure proximity to offline support through their existing professional learning communities (PLCs) and their head teachers and assigned school improvement support officers (SISOs). Once registered, the course follows the same progression as the digital cohort with the addition of offline localized support. 

While many online courses provide limited support, the MT is a more personalized course companion and seeks to provide the necessary additional support for teachers in Ghana less familiar with digital classes. MTs and District Teacher Support Teams are also subject-matter experts and provide expert coaching to teachers virtually via WhatsApp or Telegram or face-to-face at the district or school level. SISOs and head teachers are also available and trained to coordinate learning activities and assist with the organization of professional learning on and offline.  

School-based and District based learning. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) exist at the school and cluster/circuit level and inform teacher groupings in the district support model. Teachers from each school circuit/cluster will meet as a professional learning community per the NTC guidelines to discuss the course and receive support from assigned head teachers and SISOs.  

Assessment. Each course has a combination of formative and summative assessments to ensure learning is a dialogue, and there is regular opportunity for application and feedback. Reflective questions are part of each course, and teachers can assess themselves and support peers and colleagues as part of the learning process. Successful course completion is linked to credit points and certification. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points are allocated by NTC based on the percentage of the course deliverables completed, with a total possible eight points allocated for 100% satisfactory completion of all deliverables. 

Access, Equity and Quality

The model recognizes there exist many teachers without regular or limited access to the internet and data.  Initially, the model considered data sticks and printed copies of the course but felt this was cost prohibitive and not scalable. Instead, it was agreed that such adaptations should be decided at cluster or district level.   

Course content is designed to be downloaded and completed entirely offline through the Moodle App. The challenges however do not lie with connectivity alone.  Barriers such as poor digital literacy can also impact teacher participation and performance.  

In the district partnership model, recognizing that district officials and school leaders know their schools and teacher’s needs, district and school leaders are consulted and part of a co-design process that helps identify the appropriate adaptations of the model to meet the needs of their teachers. District support teams were designated in each district, composed of relevant stakeholders such as ICT officers, ECD specialists and DTSTs, to adapt the model and course to their district and set up a relevant teacher support structure for the course.  An offline approach is necessary for teachers in very remote districts, without regular internet or teachers who have limited ICT knowledge or lack appropriate devices.  For example, some district leaders felt establishing weekly hotspots at secondary schools for teachers to download or upload materials and receive in-person feedback would be most appropriate. Other districts proposed home visits for particularly remote teachers.  In the research, all three districts proposed that district education support staff work directly with MTs via WhatsApp groups to communicate and prepare for teacher participation.  In this process MTs help district education support staff and head teachers better understand the course content, assessments, and teacher performance to then work as a team in identifying struggling teachers and necessary adaptations to support course completion and learning.

Country Team

Jonathan Fletcher
Ghana Research Lead
School of Educational Leadership, University of Ghana

Leslie Tettey
Ghana Coordinator
Worldreader Ghana

Wendy Smith
Ghana Technical Advisor
Worldreader Ghana