Saturday, 13 September 2014

The train has left the station!

This week we were back in Cofimvaba for Module 4 of our #ICT4RED  Teachers professional development training course! The teaching strategy that we tackled is called Learning stations. The idea is to set up specific places in your classroom where the learners can learn a few new concepts or skills at a time. They then rotate from station to station and get a short period of time to explore, create or learn something new.

We used Learning stations to get a better understanding of what a digital library is. At each of the stations the teachers explored the different elements of what a digital library entails.

At the first station they were introduced to different kinds of ebooks. They had to  look at  the differences between the various book formats like pdf's, epubs and mobi formats as well as ebook apps. They also used various ebook platforms to open the books. Quite a few remarked that they were not aware that their tablets have such a rich amount of different books on it. Some of the advantages mentioned was that the learners could have access to a whole world of books within the confines of a handy mobile device.

The next station stop dealt with tutorials. In this case we used an origami tutorial to explore how a step by step instruction sheet "under glass" can teach learners how to follow instructions. There were a great deal of collaboration to make sure that all members complete their shapes in the short time allocated. The importance of good instructions were highlighted. We also discussed the value of tutorials in our classrooms.

Simulations are great tools to use when you don't have access to the real thing, or it might to be too expensive or dangerous to do the real activity. For instance, science experiments lend itself to using simulations as not all schools have laboratories or access to expensive chemicals. In our session, however, we chose something that is universally loved, namely baking and eating, cupcakes. The teachers were excited about how their learners will enjoy interacting with life like simulations.

Our learners always have their earphones ready to listen to something on their mobile devices which brings us to the next digital library tool, namely podcasts. We explored how handy it is to learn something using simple audio files. At this station the teachers learned how to say hello and goodbye in Irish. Creating simple lessons for the students to listen to in their own time is effortless and the end result is always positive.

The last station showed how videos can be used to demonstrate skills. The teachers had to build water pumps by watching a handsome Russian take them through the steps. You can find instructions for almost anything on Youtube. Teaching with videos can be very effective and the teachers also had to think about how they could create their won videos for their learners. It is also important to mention that videos should not be a passive learning tool, but should engage the learners in active participation. For instance they must start, stop and do, start, stop and do.

The teachers now have to go back to their classrooms and come up with CAPS aligned learning stations of their own in order to earn their badges from this session. There are 2 compulsory badges up for grabs from this session namely the Learning Station Badge as well as the Content Creation Badge. We are looking forward to sharing some of the lovely Digital Library artifacts shared by our teachers!

We want to thank our great team of facilitators who went the extra mile to make sure that the sessions are fun and engaging.

The photos of our sessions can be found here: