AbstractNationalCurriculum Framework 2016 considers teachers as the pivot around which oureducation system revolves. Teacher is the key for improvement of the quality ofour nation’s education system. A teacher should be instilled with skills thatare a blend of social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual capabilities inorder to tackle the ever changing challenges in our education system that arisedue to the constantly changing human society.

Embanking on the traditionalold-style of education does not hold well with present day learners. They arewell exposed to technology, expect to gain quick access to knowledge and needteaching strategies that will grasp their attention. In order to address theabove, a 21st century Indian teacher should be provided with knowledge ofinnovative ideas and practices that will help improvise curriculum, teachingand teaching practices. This paper focuses on innovative practices with respectto technology inclusion in teaching that have been identified to be effectivein assisting our pre-service teachers in the digital era.Keywords: Teacher Education,Innovative Practices, Information Communication Technology, Blended and Hybrid learning,and Open learning. IntroductionThe quality and effectiveness of our educationsystem is determined by various stake-holders in education, like planners,administrators, educationists etc. However, excellent and effective teachersare believed to be the ones with the power to change the fate of our nation. Accordingto the National Curriculum Framework 2016 teachers are the pivot around whichour education system revolves.

In order to achieve the required learningoutcome from our students, we need to focus on ways to improve the quality ofteachers in India. A teacher should be instilled with skills that are a blendof social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual capabilities in order totackle the ever evolving challenges in our education system that arise due tothe constantly changing human society. In the present digital era, we are very muchdependent on technology. We see kindergartners easily navigating through atouch-phone, and a high school student with million followers on Instagram orYouTube. Today’s students tend to demand for change in teaching-learningapproach as their ability to gather information is faster than any othergeneration. Therefore, there is a need to develop the skill in our teachers tointegrate technology and education in a well-balanced way to bring out the bestlearning in our technology immersed students. In order to facilitate the above,a 21st century teacher should be provided with knowledge of innovative ideasand practices with respect to technology that will help improvise curriculum,teaching and teaching practices. Innovative Practices – Meaning andConcept in Teacher Education            GeorheCouros stated, “Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in thehands of great teachers is transformational.

” Today’s children grow up using touch phones, playingvideo games assisted by a Kinet, read books on a kindle etc. This shows theextent to which technology has penetrated in our lives. Digital technology haschanged the way our students learn concepts in schools.  This emphasizes on the need for teachers to understand,that the traditional chalk and talk method will no more work with our newgeneration students. Thus, teachers should unveil innovative practices whichwill cater to the need for quick access to knowledge, and teaching strategiesthat will grasp the students’ attention.Etymologically, the word “Innovation”, is derivedfrom the Latin word “Innovare” which means to change something into somethingnew. Being innovative with new practices is working towards looking beyond whatwe are already good at. It is putting new ideas to practice in order to resultin better outcomes.

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Innovations are important to improve quality of teachersand education imparted across all levels of teaching. Hence, the aim of teachereducation should be to produce teachers with professional competencies apt forthe present digital era. Innovative Practices for TeacherEducation in the Digital EraBelow are few innovative practices that couldenhance quality of teacher education – 1.     InformationCommunication Technology (ICT): ICTs refer to alltechnologies like computers, satellites, mobile phones, Web 2.0, internet, video-conferencing,interactive forums, learning management systems, etc.

which favours thecollection, editing, storage, distribution and presentation of information. ICTshave influenced education by bringing major changes to teaching approaches, theway our students learn, enhancing access to educational resources and tools,facilitating distant education and open learning, and also with the education managementsystem. It adds the aspect of flexibility to education. Incorporation of ICTs knowledgein our teacher education programs will enable our future teachers to well understandhow they can use ICTs to identify new teaching strategies, plan their teaching,identify appropriate technology that suits their pedagogy and make their classmore productive, realistic and interesting for our new generation learners. 2.     Blendedand Hybrid learning: This is an approach to teaching wherethe teacher resorts to the use of information and communication technology as asupplement for traditional classroom face-to-face teaching, especially whendirect teacher assistance is difficult to be provided to all students. Thisapproach provides easy access to information sources, and acts as acommunication channel for the teachers and students. This approach can beassisted by using learning management systems (LMS), by uploading and storingof notes in the form of slides or PDFs.

Links for online reading material canbe provided or online discussion forums can be established as well. Learninghow to effectively implement this approach in teaching-learning practice willhelp the pre-service teachers to become effective online facilitators. Lecturescan also be recorded and uploaded online so that students can view them whenthey are free. This paves way to promote the use of classroom time for moreinteractive sessions, hence favouring ‘flipped classroom’ approach of teaching.3.     Openlearning: This is similar to online learning but it workstowards open education. Open learning is a movement that favours the students’ independentand interest-guided learning.

Open learning facilitates our teachers to gainknowledge in new areas of teaching and learning not covered under the presentteacher education program, and also helps them to explore courses from acrossthe globe that they might find useful for improving their teaching skills. Openeducational resources (OERs) are part of open learning. This includes Opentextbooks and other digital forms education materials, which are availableeither as free resources or via creative commons license. Some most common openlearning platforms are Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWareproject, edX, Open2Study, Coursera etc.  Advantages of Innovative practicesSome advantages that accompany the use of innovativepractices in teacher education: i.                   Facilitates increase of motivation and self-learningamong students. ii.                 Helps to make tedious tasks easy andsimple to understand.

Therefore, keeping students busy and engaged.iii.               Promotes pre-service teachers to thinkbeyond boundaries, and come up with new ideas to double their confidence levels.iv.

               Establishes a more active form oflearning, and makes complex subject matter easy.v.                 Innovative practices focus on developingteachers’ pedagogical knowledge and the ability to apply the knowledge inteaching-learning process.

Therefore, facilitating future teachers by makingthem more confident and creative in the teaching profession by enabling them toimplement curricula and assessment modes of the 21st century. (Grewal, 2016) Conclusion            Technology is changing theteacher-student relationship, enabling introvert students to participate inonline classroom discussions and providing our students with globalperspective. In order to facilitate our future teachers to face the abovechanges innovative practices are essential.

Innovations pave the path forprogress our nation, and the future of our nation is in its classroom. Adoptionof innovative practices by our teacher education programme is crucial, as thefuture teachers need to be equipped with skills, knowledge and creativityrequired to uplift our community and our future citizens to levels that willhelp them be competent in the stream of education concerned, and to tackle thechallenges the ever evolving human society opposes in their lives. Therefore,innovative practices irrespective of whether structured or unstructured shouldbe promoted for teaching in schools, colleges and universities as long as itprovides meaningful learning to the students.