Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Endings and new beginnings

This week we are in the Cofimvaba area ending the second and starting the third iteration.

Half of the team is handing out the mobikits that was earned by the Iteration 2 school. They are a pragmatic solution to storing and charging tablets in a rural environment. After some design considerations we came up with a solution that  packages it beautifully.

Merryl and the team has been so teary and emotional when they come back. Words like humbled, awed, thankful and truly inspiring. Thank you Cofimvaba for opening your hearts for us and allowing us to share in the hundreds of little miracles that are happening all over the district!

On the flipside, Maggie, myself, Marlien, Senzo, Roy and an angel in the form of Lilian, started Iteration 3. We are positioning the subject advisers and Circuit Managers to play a much more hands on role in this iteration to enable them to implement the methodology in other circuits. It has been fantastic seeing again how robust the course is. Within 3 hours, they were content creators, within 6 hours making slideshows and the next day the conversation included tutorials, simulations, podcasts and ebooks...  and the added bonus is we are all enjoying ourselves very much! Again we are struggling to make people go to lunch, go to tea and eventually go home!
Three of the ladies have prepared a portfolio of Origami artifacts !!

Station B is about Tutorials as part of a digital Library. How do we demonstrate how you can learn from a tutorial ? we introduce them to Origami. Something that very few or any of them have ever done. They experience learning from a tutorial and can start co-creating by thinking how they will apply tutorials to their own teaching and learning situation. This is a valuable learning experience as they are then able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of "tutorials in a class" . In addition we have a very competitive origami competition. I recon the Cofimvaba Origami artifacts is waayy ahead of a number of other places we tried this.
Station D is about Video's as part of a digital library. This results in a LOT of splashing and smiles!

We build a water sprinkler from instructions given via video. Very quickly the participants can see and experience the advantages of the medium as you can pause, rewind and fast forward without anyone having to repeat themselves. They are SO proud of their artifacts. I am usually wet from recording it!
Station C is about podcasts and simulations..
We learn to speak Irish and bake a cupcake!

All ready for the cupcake competition! This one will be evaluated by real chef! Will keep you updated on that.

This is how you video a roleplay... Cofimvaba Paparazzi..... 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Getting ready for a great #ICT4RED week in Cofimvaba

The labs at Meraka were abuzz with activity this week as we prepare for the big "trek" to Cofimvaba next week to go and deliver the learner mobikits to all the Phase 2 schools who have earned it. And they have ALL earned their mobikits! We are so proud and excited.

In order for the schools to earn their mobikits, their teachers have to earn a certain amount of badges. Almost all the teachers in all the Phase 2 schools have earned their compulsory badges, thereby ensuring that their learners can share in the magic tablets can bring to the classroom. We salute our teachers' dedication and enthusiasm and we know that they are ready to implement all the innovative learner centered teaching strategies with their learners in their classrooms!

Our ICT4RED team will be personally visiting the schools and handing over the mobikit trolleys. A lot of hard work has gone into preparing the tablets for distribution. First a range of handpicked apps were sourced. Then the team had to figure out how to macro-install it on all the mobikit tablets and personalise the tablets with easy to identify home screen folders, making it easy for the learners to find subject specific apps.

We will also be kicking off our phase 3 teacher professional development preparation by capacitating the Cofimvaba Subject Advisers with hands on training. They will be experiencing the #ict4red Teachers Professional Development course over 4 days in Queenstown where after a core contingent of master trainers will be identified and taken through a further intensive train the trainers course. 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Our Teacher Professional Development course:A brief reflection and thank you

So proud. Finally our ICT4RED teachers professional development tablet course is ready for general consumption. After 2 iterations we are confident that it works well and we have piloted it across 3 continents in different contexts. 

I should not say that it is a tablet course. Our goal was to change teachers practice from teacher centered to learner centered using innovative hands on teaching strategies, so the focus is definitely not on the technology. We used a "Trojan horse" technique of practically getting the teachers to experience learner centered strategies while the technology was casually embedded into everything they do. It gently takes them from paper based to mobile enhanced teaching and learning. 

This version is based on the premise that our teachers (rural teachers in Cofimvaba) have no or very little connectivity. We wanted them to experience the magic  mobile technology could bring into their classrooms while implementing learner centered strategies. We learned so much from them in this collaborative project and this manual is the culmination of their input and enthusiasm into our instructional design process. We thank them for their input and support.

I want to thank my co-writer and critical mirror, Adele Botha, for her "quirky" inspiration,  despite sometimes hitting rock walls and having to build airplanes in flight. This design process has been one of the most rewarding journeys I have ever undertaken with so much collaboration and support. I have to admit that when Adele decided to implement Badges for teachers I thought that it will never work. After all we are dealing with adults here! But it has added the impetuous that teachers need to take the big step of implementing something very new (new strategies and new technologies) into their classrooms. 

The teachers has been so proud to prove to us how they are using the strategies in their classrooms and badge collection has become a celebration of success. Not to mention that they are waving their ever present mobile devices around like pros and totally seamlessly engage with it despite us never teaching them :"how to use it" specifically. 

Lastly I want to thank the dedicated #ICT4RED team (Meraka, CozaCAres, Schoolnet, Afrofusion, district, facilitators and stakeholders). All of you are truly inspirational. This is not just a course it is a team effort. Thank you for all the logistical and emotional support, enthusiasm, fun and collaboration. Every Cofimvaba journey has been a treasured experience of learning and camaraderie. 

This course will now go into its third iteration with a new group of teachers and will remain a "living course". We have also written a Course facilitators manual which, once piloted, we will also publish under the creative commons license. 

We would love some feedback.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Course gamification using badges

The ICT4RED course makes use of badges as part of an Earn As You Learn System that acknowledges teachers' implementation of the course in their classrooms. The badges represent a challenge to apply a specific teaching strategy in their class; to use, create and licence some educational content and to demonstrate their technology skills.

The teachers are taken on a learning journey where they can earn 13 compulsory badges and 5 optional challenge badges that they can try. The badges is not only recognition for actively applying what they are learning, but also a way for them to earn their tablets and technology (for example mobikits and data projectors) for their schools.

To learn more about the badges and criteria, see the following presentation: