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How online teacher development in rural Bangladesh has improved students’ learning

A table with learning materials from the 3MPower project

The Mobile Learning for Empowerment of Marginalised Mathematics Educators (3MPower) project has published three new policy briefs based on their research on how teachers in rural schools in Bangladesh use online learning for their professional development.

The 3MPower project evaluated how primary-level teachers in 10 districts in Bangladesh engaged with a popular online teacher development course, Anonde Gonit Shikhi (AGS) (“Let's learn Maths with fun”), delivered by the Directorate of Primary Education.

The 3MPower Principal Investigator – Professor Tom Power said, “Among the growing body of research on the use of technology for teacher development in low and middle-income countries, very few studies focus on the needs and experiences of teachers or learners in marginalised rural communities. These policy briefs address this evidence gap.”

The Government of Bangladesh is making substantial investments in blended learning for teachers. Therefore, it is crucial to understand whether teachers can access these courses online. The project found that even in marginalised rural communities in Bangladesh, teachers could access and complete the AGS course using their mobile phones. 

However, Professor Power noted, “Few teachers put the training into practice in the classroom unless they were encouraged and supported to do this at the school level by their head teacher or other colleagues. But the teachers who did put the programme into practice saw positive impacts on students' participation, behaviour, and numeracy skills.”

Three takeaways from the policy briefs are that, to realise the benefit of online professional development courses among teachers in marginalised communities:

  • Everyone involved must understand the importance of teachers regularly exploring the professional development activities through their classroom practice.
  • Most teachers need encouragement from their head teacher and support from other teachers in their school, if they are to explore the professional development activities through their classroom practice. Without such support at school level, few teachers will apply their learning and online professional development will have limited impact on practice. 
  • Teachers’ professional development should be imagined as an ongoing journey of blended learning - combining online activities and face to face meetings over several weeks or months - rather than a ‘one-off’ online activity or face-to-face workshop.

The policy briefs invite e-learning providers, education officers in central and local government and ministries of education to reflect on how they can help realise the potential of online teacher development courses to improve student learning in more schools.

Learn more in the 3MPower policy briefs

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