Let ’em admire the shiny

Due to illness, we’re down a team member today. Our partner NGO, Edunova, is also down a team member. Both of the missing team members were responsible for the same session today. As such, a little schedule shuffling was necessary this morning.

The results are to the teachers’ benefit. We’ve inserted a joint session.

For the first half, the teachers are getting a basic overview of how to use Smart Boards. Many of them have them in their classrooms or schools, but they sit dormant because teachers don’t know how to use them or are frightened of them.

They sit like white elephants in the schools, representative of thousands of rand that could have funded a laptop and projector or some other more varied ICTs.

Seems educational technology companies don’t have the best interest of schools and their learners at heart.

The second half of the new session is a Part II of yesterday’s multimedia session. Khanyiso and I drafted a project for the teachers in about 15 minutes.

Using their cell phones and Windows Movie Maker, they’re to create a 1-3 minute video answering the question, “What does it mean to be a teacher?”

We spent all of our 45 minutes on explaining the project, oggling the gadgets and storyboarding.

I’m not worried we didn’t get to the videos.

We’ve built about an hour into the day today for the teachers to play.

Many of them are planning on creating their movies.

The best part for me was watching them realize they had video capabilities on their phones and then take meaningless videos of their colleagues for 30 seconds simply because they could.

They were waking up to the power of the tools they carry in their pocket everyday.

Also, we didn’t re-direct them. We didn’t demand their attention or that they get back on task. I knew they’d get there.

For the moment, the tools were shiny.

When my first iPhone arrives, I imagine I won’t be making too many calls. I’ll just be admiring the shiny.

After about 5 minutes, all of the groups, each and every teacher, was working diligently to create a storyboard to tell the world what it means to be a teacher.

When we were wrapping up, we discussed the benefits of what they’d been doing:

  • Incorporating many subject areas.
  • Most of the work could be done in the classroom with minimal need to wrestle for a chance at the computer labs.
  • The gadgets were shiny and new, but the task won out.
  • One hundred percent of them were engaged.
  • They cared about what they were creating.

The plan is to post the finished products up on youtube and then share them here.

Most importantly, they’ll have seen what can happen once you get past admiring the shiny.

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