Building Digital Skills among displaced teachers in the Eastern Cape

SchoolNet SA was commissioned by Microsoft to develop the digital skills of displaced teachers in the Eastern Cape. Specifically, it was hoped that these displaced teachers could assist the Eastern Cape Department of Education’s eLearning team with training teachers in the province to make better use of Microsoft tools and their Windows 10 devices. The capacity building sessions for 52 displaced teachers took place between 27 and 31 May 2018 at the East London Leadership Institute in East London.

The capacity building session kicked off with a welcome from Nadine Pote (Chief Director: Teacher Development and Learning Institutions Eastern Cape Department of Education) and Dr Drik Greeff (Chief Education Specialist at Eastern Cape Department of Education).  Ms Pote explained that the capacity building session was part of the larger implementation of the National Department of Education’s strategy for e-Education as well as the province’s prioritization of teacher development as support to district eLearning and curriculum personnel.

After the initial kick-off session, the educators were split into two groups and relocated to two computer labs. The educators then worked with SchoolNet SA facilitators (Busisiwe Mdlankomo, Megan Rademeyer, Sandile Maliwa and Hlengiwe Mfeka) to complete a range of activities designed to familiarize the group with O365 and the Windows 10 laptops that many Eastern Cape teachers have been equipped with. Educators registered on the Microsoft Educator Community and were shown how to use this portal to access the Digital Skills for Teachers courses that had been uploaded to the platform as part of this project. The educators also worked through a range of scenarios in the ICT Skills for Teachers course.

Whilst the instructional design of the ICT Skills for Teachers course allows teachers to select scenarios based on artefacts they wish to create, as this was a capacity building session we asked participants to aim to produce at least one Word, one Excel and one PowerPoint artefact across the four days of training so that the SchoolNet SA team could assess their competence in using the most commonly used Microsoft O365 apps. The educators who had the most advanced digital skills assisted the other educators to complete the activities and also presented their artefacts during the showcase event – demonstrating that they had the potential to be facilitators for this course.

One of the highlights of the workshop was a Socrative quiz designed to test the delegate’s knowledge of the features of a Windows 10 laptop. This activity also provided a good opportunity to talk about how using online quizzes can be an engaging way to provide a gamification component within a lesson. Sandile Maliwa led a session for each group in which he demonstrated how to navigate using some of the features of Windows 10.

Participants completed an activity in which they provided their tips for keeping a Windows 10 device safe as part of a collaborative PowerPoint document. The objectives of this activity was twofold – it got groups of participants discussing how to care for their devices whilst also demonstrating how collaborative documents work.

The capacity session was very well received by delegates, who all noted that their digital skills had improved as a result of the professional development. The facilitators remarked that the displaced teachers were “eager to learn and everyone participated in the presentations and showed engagement in the different sessions”. Unfortunately a number of the delegates who attended this workshop had very basic computer skills, and the four days of capacity building was insufficient to bring them up to the level of being trainers. Nonetheless, a number of displaced teachers were identified as having strong potential and we are sure that they will be a valuable source of assistance to the Eastern Cape Department of Education eLearning team as they continue to roll out their training plan.

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