A 21st Century Innovative Teacher’s Club is formed in Queenstown and Butterworth to bridge the digital divide using Microsoft applications

This is a guest post from Nosithembele Gcobo from Queenstown in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. Nosithembele is one of our Microsoft 2016/2017 #MIEExperts. Nosithembele was very excited about a recent event that took place as a result of her posting Microsoft tools posts and technological updates on her Facebook page. She was contacted by some teachers from the Butterworth district, which is about 150 kilometres from Queenstown, to see if she could upskill them with what she has been learning regarding using Microsoft applications in her classroom. This gave her the idea of starting a 21st Century Innovative Teacher’s Club and inviting them to join. They were prepared to drive all the way from Butterworth just to spend some time updating their skills. Nosithembele sent this report back of the weekend.

The power of social networks 

“I post most of my Microsoft posts on educational tools to be used in classroom integration on my Facebook wall. As a result I receive many followers who show interest. Some of them started a conversation with me through WhatsApp since they are many kilometres away from me. They decided to pay me a visit so that we can collaborate and share our ideas, since they are the beginners in this ICT integration journey. It was then that I decided to form a club! I called it The 21st Century Innovative Teacher’s Club. I recruited Nelisa Zini, who is also a MIEExpert from the Queenstown district, to be a member of the club so that we could both empower the other teachers about the integration of technology in the curriculum practice. 

My dream came true on the 12 April 2017 when the club had its first meeting. The three teachers drove 185 km from Butterworth to Queenstown, just to be empowered! It is really a small world. I discovered that two of the teachers were once my high school classmates at Daliwonga High School in Cofimvaba! We matriculated in 1987 and we never met or communicated after that. What an innovative reunion we had! They are beginners as far as technology is concerned, but they have the passion and willingness to know more about ICT integration. Their learners have no devices but their schools have some ICT infrastructure like laptops for a few teachers and a screen and projector for some. These teachers use their own personal routers so that poor Internet connectivity cannot be a barrier. They really inspired me with their enthusiasm and gave me the desire to adopt them technologically.

Our First Collaboration

I first introduced them to the Microsoft Educator Community so that they would be able to access all the information, courses and resources that are available. I wanted to show them, how to earn badges and everything like that. The introduction was a very big success as two of them managed to register. One gained three badges and a certificate, the other gained one badge,  and they acquired some points. The third teacher had a problem and it took a while for her to get registered.



Sway and OneNote 

Our collaboration journey began with learning how to use Sway and OneNote. The teachers were very excited as they had never heard about Sway and OneNote before. I showed them my lesson presentations on Sway and OneNote. They were amazed to find you can make a beautiful presentation in Sway, and you can even insert video clips for the learners to watch while you are presenting. I showed them how you can download the CAPS document to your Documents folder  instead of carrying and manually paging through a ragged document when doing lesson plans. They started creating their own Sway presentations for their English and Mathematics lessons. They were able to insert pictures, graphs and everything else needed for their lessons. They mastered how to browse for relevant videos for their lessons. . 

Nondzondelelo Dyalo from Butterworth district creating her first Sway presentation. 

#MIEE Nelisa Zini showcased her English lesson plans and movie-making lessons on book reviews as well as her Natural Sciences and Technology lesson plans which she had done using Sway and OneNote. She kindly shared most of her lessons plans with the club members since they taught the same grade and subjects.

The future of the Club was decided on

We agreed to meet quarterly in the future because of the distance, but we will continue with online communication and collaboration with each other. I asked for an evaluation from the teachers and I am glad so say that I made an impact in their education career. I am more than willing to run the race with them. They gained a lot from our first meeting. They even completed a quiz from one of Microsoft Learning Paths – Digital Literacy – and received badges.

I designed a logo and a slogan for my club to make it legitimate. It is my dream to run this club for the rest of my life – I found it to be food for my soul, doing what I love most! The logo has four arrows pointing to the four directions, which means “Through ICT integration in curriculum practice, we are not limited. We can go in any direction”. The slogan “Bridging the digital divide“  means: “Even though we are the underprivileged province because of our rurality, we can still bridge the gap between the urban and the rural context if we can be fully supported by one another. This means not only not just providing one another with digital resources, but also making sure that we are well equipped, monitored, supported and guided in the use of ICTs”

I am hoping  that this club will expand for the benefit of the teachers, as this was an excellent beginning. We signed an attendance register for the sake of record keeping. You can see the logo and the slogan on the register below. 


My appreciation goes to the librarians of WSU Resource Centre, Frontier Hospital in Queenstown for allowing us to use their board room for our collaboration. We were comfortably hosted, with privacy, and we were not interrupted by the principal users (the board room is used by the Health Department). My appreciation also goes to the SchoolNet team, for believing in me by unlocking my potential. If it were not for you my dream would have died. Your SchoolNet newsletters keep me going. They are the source of my inspiration. My appreciation also goes to Microsoft.  Thank you all ever so much once again.

Photos of the day

Here are two more photos of this memorable day.”

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