SchoolNet SA has been running a programme of professional development courses aimed at upskilling KwaZulu-Natal Subject Advisors to support teachers to make better use of digital tools as teaching and learning resources. To date, the GET subject advisors group have completed the ICT Skills for Teachers and using Digital Resources in the Classroom courses. In this blogpost we describe the first group of Subject Advisors Tablets in the Classroom course which took place in Bergville between 17 and 21 September 2018.
What was covered?
The Tablets in the Classroom course comprises four compulsory modules: Tablet Fundamentals, Educational Applications and Software, Tablet Integration and Student Assessment, and Effective Tablet Management in the Classroom. In this workshop, subject advisors were also introduced to the Minecraft themed Hour of Code tutorials which teachers can use to introduce learners to basic coding and they tried out the Computer Olympiad Talent Search computational thinking materials. In addition to learning about tablets, the course participants were introduced to new collaborative strategies for teaching and learning in mobile environments that meet the needs of all learners.
Thirty eight subject advisors from Umkhanyakude, Ilembe, Pinetown, Zululand, Umlazi and King Cetshwayo districts attended the workshop. According to the facilitators, Hlengiwe Mfeka and Senzo Ngcobo, “the subject advisors were very enthusiastic and receptive throughout the week; they did not feel the long hours in the day because of their sense of humour.”
Highlights of Day 1
The subject advisors loved the photo-booth activity and raced to take photos of themselves. After a bit of fun, the delegates were divided into two groups and the Jigsaw strategy was used to orientate subject advisors to some of the features of their tablets. Participants were not familiar with the Jigsaw strategy, but they found it very effective and were able to master a number of skills quickly. One participant, Mondli Mkhwanazi said: “The learners can learn a lot in a short period of time”. Another activity involved using ArtRage to draw their “inner animals”. This activity provided an opportunity to master using one’s fingers to draw, this activity gave the group practice in uploading their creations to Google drive.
Highlights of Day 2
On the second day the group learnt more about Google drive, YouTube and the Microsoft Educator Community. The facilitators then introduced coding and stressed that even simple coding activities can develop learners’ creativity, collaboration and problem solving skills. The group enjoyed trying out the Minecraft themed Hour of Code challenge, however, the slow internet led to some frustration.
Highlights of Day 3
After reflecting on the previous day’s activities the subject advisors had a bit more time to complete the Minecraft Adventurer coding activity. Many subject advisors reached the final level and each time one obtained a certificate, the group clapped for them, motivating others. As part of the Tablets in the Classroom course, delegates learn about how tablets can be used for student assessment. The facilitators prepared a computational thinking quiz using www.quizizz.com and then tasked subject advisors with devising their own quiz using this free online tool and trying out one another’s online assessments.
Highlights of Day 4
The focus of day 4 was on internet safety and security as well as effective classroom management ideas for using tablets. The group was introduced to Poll Everywhere and used this tool to vote for the best name card and YouTube videos which delegates had shared.
The gala dinner on Thursday evening was a celebration of the week’s worth of learning, an opportunity to dress up and a chance to recognize prize winners for the week. Mr Reggie Masondo, Maths Science and Technology and ICT deputy director for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, thanked SchoolNet SA and the facilitators for providing another successful professional development workshop. Nombuso Makhaza, one of the subject advisors, confirmed their complete satisfaction as participants with this workshop.
Highlights of Day 5
The final day of training was spent developing action plans for sharing their learnings with teachers in their districts. The workshop was a huge success from both the facilitators’ and the participants’ perspectives. We look forward to hearing how the subject advisors make use of the new tools and strategies that they have been exposed to and how they share their learnings with teachers in their districts.