Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Our ICT4RED champions in the news

This article was published in the September issue of The Teacher and feature 2 of our Phase 2 teachers and ICT4RED Champions.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Mind mapping as a teaching strategy (Module 5)

During the last week of September, the ICT4RED teachers in Cofimvaba explored how to use Mind mapping as a teaching strategy in the classroom. The weather was foul and cold with hail and the #ICT4RED team feared that the teachers would not be able to get to the training centres, knowing in what bad condition the roads are even when it is not raining! But as per usual, the teachers showed us how dedicated they are to their professional development! They were there!

In Module 5 we stopped for a while and explored what is hidden on our tablets. Up to now, the teachers have not focused on technology at all, but has acquired mobile skills seamlessly embedded within the different classroom strategies and content. In other words, they learned how to use their tablets in classroom scenarios without having to learn how their tablets worked exactly. Within each activity there where some mobile skills that had to be mastered, but as they were doing it as part of the content, they did not really focus on the "howto" part of technology. This Module was therefore designed to take a good look at what the tablet can do by investigating apps.

Most of the teachers did not realize how many educational apps were installed on their tablets. They were just using the apps referred to in the activities. Quite a few of the teachers expressed surprise at what the tablet could do and they were eager to go and try out more of the apps in their classrooms. Most of the apps were chosen for offline use as connectivity has been a problem in this rural district and the schools have not yet been connected to the internet. A list of the apps initially installed on the teacher tables can be found here.

We started off by doing a fun icebreaker where the teachers had to do various app activities as a collaborative inter group competition. During this activity they learned how to manage their apps and how to help one another in achieving the outcomes. Every teacher had to master the mobile skill and this forced everybody to REALLY work together. As per usual there were lots of incentive prizes to keep the game based atmosphere alive with laughter!

Another useful activity to entice people to share what they really are feeling is to let them draw what they feel. In the next activity the teachers had to express what they felt at the start of their mobile journey. They could choose between using "old" technology (crayons and paper) or "new" technology (a drawing app on their tablet). Both methods had to be presented in digital format which meant that the paper version had to be captured using the tablet camera or a handy little scanner app called Camscanner. This also showed them that learners could still use old ways to do things and it can be captured digitally. (for instance -they can do maths calculations on paper and you can scan it with your tablet and project it for everybody to see)

We then proceeded to look at what mind mapping is and how we can use it in the classroom, They had to explore all the apps on their tablets, see what the various apps can do and how they can use them in the classroom. They had to create a mind map categorizing the apps, first in paper format and then using an offline mind mapping app called Simplemind.

After 4 modules most of the teacher tablet home screens looked quite busy and they struggled to find the various apps. In the last activity, they could use their app mind maps to create folders for their apps on their home screens. They now were gurus in tablet and app management.

As always, the teachers have to go and implement what they have learned during the session, in their classrooms and the two badges up for grabs in Module 5 are the compulsory Mind Mapping badge and the optional App evaluation badge. The app evaluation questionnaire can be downloaded here. The session was concluded with brainstorming some ideas around how mind mapping can be used in the teachers' classrooms with specific emphasis on what they are doing within their CAPS framework. We are looking forward to seeing the innovative implementations. Cofimvaba teachers rocks!

The sessions photographs can be viewed here: