The rooms were cold, but the atmosphere was warm and genial at our second summit of the EdTech Summit Africa tour. Our hosts for the day were the Global Teachers Institute (GTI) as a part of AXIS Summit and the Wits School of Education of University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Attendees were a mix of pre-service teachers and experienced educators, and the university’s techies worked hard to ensure that all had access to boosted wifi and logins for the many desktop computers in the learning labs. Karen Page (K2) and Mona Ewees launched the Wits Summit with an explanation of our team’s purpose to offer workshops, elevate technology use, model progressive education strategies, grow professional networks, and collaborate with new contacts. The day began with a raffle for four gently used iPad2 tablets. The enthusiasm and joy from the winners was heartwarming and balanced out the fact that the Glass Lab felt like an icebox.
We twelve presenters offered a variety of workshops to introduce different tools, ideas, and learning opportunities. During each of the three sessions or streams, attendees had four workshops from which to choose. Below is a link to the list of presenters and their workshops. Clicking on any workshop takes you to a fuller description and any linked resources: http://edtechsummitafrica.com/2016/presenters
When not teaching, presenters floated around assisting each other. My workshop about was during Stream 2, so during Stream 1, I helped in Claudia Stanfield’s session about using multimedia and web resources in the classroom, and during Stream 2, I was with Dr. Aletha Harven as she showed teachers how to use Google Forms as an assessment tool and Facebook as an online space for her class to share resources and launch discussions. At future summits, I hope to have a chance to hear from and learn with other workshop leaders including Anusheh Hashim, Kevin Baloyi, Karen Kirsch Page, Bonisile Ntlemeza, Thandekile Ngema, Mabore Lekalakala, Sara Kixmoeller, Ryan Waingortin, and Mona Ewees.
Claudia (@ClaudiaStany) began her session with attendees tossing around a beach ball inscribed with different cryptic SMS phrases written with a permanent marker. When people caught the ball, they had to announce the SMS acronym they touched and define it. Many of these were new to the older teachers and to me too, since I text like a grammar teacher, complete with mostly perfect punctuation and spelling. Examples from the activity included BBIAS (“be back in a second”), STADLTBBB (“sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite”), and ROTFL (“rolling on the floor laughing” which I insisted on demonstrating at the front of the room after some weird and unrepressed impulse to wake the sleeping thespian in me). Claudia talked about how games and multimedia tools increased student engagement. She then shared how Khan academy benefits learners with online access by allowing them to watch videos for enrichment and remedial purposes. Her school is in a deeply rural area and doesn’t have a supply of fresh running water – it is trucked in on a weekly basis – and wifi is available though slow. She uses KA Lite and an internal network to offer her students access to videos on desktops and Samsung tablets. KA Lite’s website describes its service as offering an online learning experience in an offline environment. Here are Claudia’s resources: http://tiny.cc/claudiaedtech2016
During my session, I started by sharing some of my favorite things to remind students: Everything you put on the internet is public, personal, and traceable and we should strive to always make wise choices since posted information is either public or less public – there is no such thing as privacy online. I then demonstrated how I keep track of my professional learning, projects, presentations, and accomplishments in a digital portfolio. I suggested that with Google Sites, anyone could quickly and easily build a space to gather and curate their own artifacts to both represent themselves as teachers and learners and to keep track of their class’s work – especially in light of the fact that many teachers in South Africa have to answer to a Subject Advisor who assesses whether they’ve met a set criteria of curricular goals and checkpoints. I was really happy that Anusheh Hashim (@dearmshashim) and Ryan Waingortin (@ryanwaingo) came in to assist, as they immediately helped participants log in to the desktop machines in the computer lab. Wits University had many modern conveniences which I’m told may not be available at other sites on our tour — plenty of computers, wifi, ceiling mounted projectors, large screens at the front of the room, and a well-functioning heater. Here are my slides from the workshop:
During the last stream, Aletha (@DrAlethaHarven) began with a video from Edutopia about the “Net Generation” and offered examples of how she uses digital media to reach her students on tools they gravitate towards anyway. Aletha asked attendees to fill out a short Google Form of questions to assess their comprehension of the video. She then shared the results of the form with attendees and tasked them with creating their own form which could assess something they may cover in their class. She stressed that Google forms could be used to take the pulse of the class and allow teachers to gain an understanding of what needs to be further reviewed at future class sessions. Aletha also talked with attendees about how they can use social media platforms, specifically Facebook, to provide an online space to gather and extend their class discussions. Here are Aletha’s resources: http://tiny.cc/alethaedtech2016
After the third session of the day, attendees had an opportunity to return back to any of the classrooms in order to ask questions or seek additional information from workshop presenters. They also had time to reflect, tweet, and write a lesson plan incorporating skills and strategies they gathered during the summit. When everyone regrouped in the frosty Glass Room, an iPads 6 iPads were given away bringing the total to 10. We joked that K2 was like the Oprah of EdTech, “YOU get an iPad! And YOU get an iPad!” One attendee was awarded an iPad for submitting a terrific lesson plan, an additional four iPads were raffled, and @CindylopaS earned an iPad for their social media contributions during the day (quality as well as quantity of posts was considered).
Looking forward to our third summit on July 15 at Babati Primary!