DNS helps students take responsibility for their education and supports them in achieving their goals. Along with standard pedagogical topics, the DNS curriculum includes life skills training and the development of 21st century skills (including critical-thinking, collaborative working skills, and the ability to utilize information and communications technology). The aim is to nurture the leaders of tomorrow, who are equipped to increase learning, bring about change, and foster widespread development.
The core method employed is known as the Definition of Modern Methods (DMM). The basic idea behind DMM is to create the conditions that allows student teachers to take control of their learning and become proactive in their professional development. This approach challenges traditional ideas and lines of authority that exist with respect to the relationship between an instructor and a student. With DMM, students can break out of conventional classroom roles and become active partners in determining the direction of their education. While instructors have ultimate authority, students are given a choice and a high-degree of control over how they will learn.
To help facilitate this process, the DMM system makes the entire curriculum, from instructor presentations to lesson activities, available to each student from the very start. At first, the curriculum was available to students by way of printed materials. The entire curriculum has since been digitized and is accessed through a college database. Students now obtain the contents of the curriculum through on-campus computers.
Hands-on training is also core tenet of the program, and student teachers obtain teaching practice in local schools from the very start. Each of the colleges make arrangements with between five to nine nearby primary schools to provide training classrooms for the student teachers. No matter where it is implemented, the DNS curriculum is adapted to meet a country’s educational requirements and its national standards of teacher training.