The Pinetown Rotary Club has invested in providing schools in the KwaNdgenezi area of KwaZulu-Natal with harddrives containing educational resources, but they also wanted to offer teachers from their focus schools professional development and support to ensure that the resources are used to their full potential. SchoolNet SA was engaged to provide a comprehensive professional development programme for teachers to build their skills, knowledge and confidence in using digital resources in their lessons. In turn they will provide learners with access to the resources, thereby transforming teaching and learning and contributing to improved learner performance.
The project includes three phases:
- a three-day professional development course on Using Digital Resources,
- on-site visits to support and mentor teachers as they implement what they have learnt at the workshop, and
- further training focusing on curriculum integration in the classroom.
The first training intervention, aimed at the adoption level, was facilitated over three days at the KwaNdengezi Education Centre between 7 and 9 February 2018. SchoolNet trainer, Hlengiwe Mfeka set an assessment task which indicated that the majority of the teachers had limited digital skills and the introductions revealed that teachers assumed they were attending a course for computer skills only. Hlengiwe explained the purpose of the course and the teachers realized that the course would exceed their expectations.
The Using Digital Resources course design promotes the four Cs of 21st Century learning; Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking and Creativity. Teachers learnt some theory and were exposed to some educational models but this was done in order to get teachers to reflect on their own teaching practices and to aim towards more learner-centered approaches. A highlight was the session on downloading and using the digital app, 2Enable and accessing the wider range of digital materials on the harddrives which were provided by Rotary to their schools. Teachers were amazed to see there are so many resources available to them to bring their lessons to life. The Kahoot game provided a fun way to reinforce content and to model how the teachers themselves could set up quizzes for their students to learn whilst having fun.
At the end of the workshop, teachers were asked to email a completed lesson plan to the facilitator, and most did this showing great commitment to the project. A briefing by by the MST & ICT directorate Dr Thami Nkabinde and an address by Rotary’s Bill Draper indicated to teachers that they have support from a range of parties who want them to succeed in terms of using digital tools and resources to transform their educational practices.
This first phase of this Rotary programme had a great impact on the participants’ thinking, attitudes and skills. Hlengiwe noticed a shift in thinking when participants provided feedback during discussions – and there was even a change of language! Teachers committed to share acquired knowledge and skills with colleagues at their schools and they left the workshop looking forward to the next level of their professional development.