Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Shaping the Classrooms of Tomorrow: How the NIE is Raising GenAI Awareness Among Educators

By Arteculate Jun 14, 2024 #LEARN #NIE #Sponsored

In an era defined by rapid technological advancements and evolving educational paradigms, the Sri Lanka National Institute of Education (NIE) stands at the forefront of innovation in pedagogy. Tasked with nurturing the minds of the nation’s future leaders, the NIE has embarked on a pioneering journey to introduce Generative AI (GenAI) to educators across the country. Recognising the transformative potential of AI in shaping the learning landscape and applying the insights from the AIDE workshops facilitated by LEARN, the NIE has initiated a series of workshops aimed at equipping educators with the knowledge and skills needed to harness the power of AI in the classroom. From fundamental principles to practical applications, these workshops signify a step towards empowering educators and enriching the educational experience for students islandwide. In this story, Director General of the NIE, Prof. Prasad Sethunga, shares more about the organisation’s vision to explore the role of GenAI and technology in shaping the classrooms of tomorrow. 

The NIE’s forward-thinking approach to AI in education

Prof. Prasad Sethunga – Director General of the National Institute of Education

The National Institute of Education (NIE) is Sri Lanka’s apex body that propagates the seed of learning in the country. One of its key responsibilities is the development of syllabi for the national general education at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. In addition, the NIE ensures teachers are well-trained and that everyone working in education keeps learning. As such, their goal is to foster today’s students to become tomorrow’s skilled, tech-savvy, cooperative citizens through student-centric and learning-centric methods of imparting knowledge.

“Through our participation in the GenAI workshops facilitated by LEARN, we aim to apply the learnings we obtained to make teachers more aware of the uses of AI in their respective fields, and how they can be applied to their teachings,” Prof. Sethunga conveyed. These workshops are part of a pilot project undertaken by the NIE to introduce educators to the basic concepts of GenAI. Having completed the project’s first phase, the NIE aims to analyse and incorporate the feedback from the participants to enhance its next series of sessions for the project’s second phase, which would focus on educators from technology-related faculties.

An overview of the AI workshops conducted by the NIE

The first workshop by the NIE was focused on GenAI’s importance in general education, providing insights into its principles and applications. The session commenced with an introduction to Generative AI, outlining its fundamental concepts and techniques. This was followed by interactive discussions and practical demonstrations, allowing participants to deepen their understanding and engage actively with the material. It attracted 150 participants representing different roles within the educational framework, including school principals, In Service Advices  (ISAs), and teachers. The session covered fundamental concepts, techniques, and practical demonstrations with active engagement from the participants. 

Subsequently, the second workshop focused on empowering 28 academic staff members of the NIE’s Faculty of Languages, Humanities, and Social Sciences, responsible for design and development of the curriculum. . It included an introduction to GenAI, hands-on activities with ChatGPT, educational use cases, and productivity enhancement strategies. Key outcomes from the session included increased awareness, hands-on experience, and knowledge transfer. Upon receiving participant feedback, the NIE believes this session successfully equipped participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to utilise GenAI effectively in their academic pursuits.

The third workshop took place on the 04th of April 2024, focusing on GenAI for foreign language teachers from schools. Similar to the previous session, the objectives of these workshops included familiarising participants with GenAI, providing hands-on experience with tools like Chat GPT and Microsoft Copilot, and educating them on practical integration strategies. The participants understood the potential of such tools for language teaching and demonstrated a keen interest in engaging and exploring further. Participants also expressed their deep satisfaction with the experience and the practical relevance of the topics covered to promote AI literacy and innovation in education. 

Continuing its efforts to empower educators with GenAI, the NIE conducted a fourth workshop as part of its ongoing initiative. This workshop, which was held as a Train-the-Trainers (ToT) session from April 25th to April 28th, 2024, targeted in-service ICT teachers and In Service Advices  (ISAs) participating in the Piloting Program on New Education Transformation. The session aimed to catalyse effective change in the teaching-learning process of ICT in the school system by providing hands-on training in AI-powered tools and strategies. Participants engaged in interactive discussions, practical demonstrations, and hands-on activities to deepen their understanding and proficiency in utilising GenAI. With 23 trainers actively participating, this ToT session represents another significant milestone in leveraging GenAI to enhance the Sri Lankan education system. 

Looking ahead: The NIE’s plans for AI integration

“At present, we are seeing a large gap in knowledge between theory and application of AI tools by educators in their classrooms. Therefore, it is pivotal that institutions like the NIE and LEARN collaborate to introduce how they could strategically include these technologies and methods in the learning environment,’ said Prof. Sethunga. The NIE plans on using the qualitative feedback received from these workshop participants to revisit the AI modules being designed at the moment. 

With this, he added that the NIE operates 17 ICT centres islandwide under the purview of the Ministry of Education and hopes to conduct similar workshops at these locations and more through online platforms. Further, they have also received requests from external institutes, such as Skills College Colombo, to conduct awareness sessions on GenAI for their audiences. Commenting on these efforts, the Consultant CEO of LEARN, Prof. Roshan Ragel, added, “LEARN is happy to support the NIE in its mission of enhancing Sri Lanka’s education sector with applications of GenAI and as the technology will play an instrumental role in the development of Sri Lankan education sector for the years to come.” 

In conclusion, the Sri Lanka National Institute of Education’s proactive approach to integrating GenAI into education represents a pivotal moment in the country’s educational landscape. With plans for further expansion and collaboration, these workshops signify a promising trajectory towards fostering AI literacy and innovation among educators. As the NIE and LEARN continue to bridge the gap between theory and application, they are empowering educators and shaping the future of Sri Lanka’s education sector. With a commitment to continuous improvement and inclusivity, these initiatives stand as a testament to the transformative potential of technology in enriching learning experiences and preparing students for the challenges of tomorrow.

By Arteculate

Arteculate is your guide to the Asian tech industry. We give you unparalleled insights, accurate, local tech news, thoughtful features and sometimes scathing opinions on where things are headed. Stay tuned for the best of Asia!

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