Hi everyone! I am Taslima Irine Ivy and am an MA alumna and current PhD student at MIE, set to submit my thesis in January 2021. I have recently been offered a senior tutor position and am very glad that I will be continuing in MIE after submission. Before my PHD I had been working as a lecturer at the Department of English, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
My PhD research is situated within ‘Digital Bangladesh’, the current government’s vision and flagship programme to transform Bangladesh into a middle income country by using ICT as a ‘pro-poor’ tool as well as a tool for human resource development (https://a2i.gov.bd). Within this context, where all sectors are becoming digital, the government aimed to transform and ‘digitalize’ the education sector too by establishing multimedia classrooms, training teachers to use ICT and establishing a teacher portal for collaboration. Additionally, a host of incentives have been introduced for ‘raise and praise’ of the multimedia teacher, especially in rural areas. These include national awards like ‘best multimedia teacher’, promotion opportunities as well as leadership positions within the teaching community. During implementation it was expected rural teachers would not be able to contribute to the portal nor take part in the project fully due to infrastructural issues and poor network connection. Contrary to the expectations, 90 percent of the content on the portal was produced by rural teachers. Moreover, it was the rural teachers who were achieving ‘best multimedia teacher’ awards at the national level. This intrigued me and I became interested in exploring why and how teachers’ technology use was developing in rural Bangladesh, hence the start of my PhD.
My PhD journey has been an amalgam of excitement, panic, tears, smiles, falling down, getting up and what not! Looking back, it was all worth it. I am especially grateful to my Lantern colleagues for supporting me through this amazing journey. They have listened to me, supported me, given me confidence, calmed me down when I was all nerves. I am very fortunate to be part of this wonderful group of people.
It all started from one of my writing classes which was to be observed by a senior academic from UK. I ‘delivered’ my lecture with the help of the PowerPoint. The projector screen had to be pulled down in front of the whiteboard. However, when my observer discussed that by projecting the slides in front of the whiteboard we at the department might be blocking a vital platform (the whiteboard) for student interaction in the class; it suddenly struck me! In my MA thesis I myself had pointed out that EFL multimedia classrooms were quite linear and we needed to move towards multimedia induced cognitive and pedagogical interactivity. Then how could I not see that I was using the PowerPoint to only project the lecture and not using the interactive features at all? My pedagogy, the PowerPoint, my knowledge of cognitive interaction and my context were at war with each other. But why?
That is exactly when a2i officials called up and asked the same question, why was their teacher training not working? And what could be done to promote student centered learning in multimedia classrooms the government had set up? My MA thesis had identified the problem but what could be done to achieve a solution for the context of Bangladesh? Frankly speaking I did not have the answer myself! I knew the answer may be found through further research in context and hence the application for a PhD and commonwealth scholarship.
I will be working with a2i teachers across the country and try to find a contextually appropriate solution for achieving a sustainable pedagogical shift in a2i as well as my own multimedia EFL classrooms. The commonwealth scholarship result is due end of May so fingers crossed!
Hope to see you all in September! Thanks a lot Diane and Susan for adding me to lantern J