Improving the classroom experience via teacher training

Improving the classroom experience via teacher training

Working in education, Kathy Bandera from Marshfield High School in Massachusetts and Mandee Galbraith from iEARN-USA in New York, know the value of using technology as a tool for learning.

Kathy teaches at Marshfield High. She incorporates WCE into her curriculum to give her students a real-world appreciation of the importance of technological education from a global perspective and what it really takes to bridge the digital divide. She works with her students on computer donations and refurbishing projects.  And to no one's surprise, her "to do" list  also included how to help the teachers who receive computers from WCE. The teachers on the otherside of the "divide". So she went about putting together a teacher training curriculum for WCE. Then she met Mandee.

As fate would have it, their paths crossed because both were going on our eCorps trip to the Dominican Republic.

Mandee, through her work with iEARN-USA - a WCE Strategic Ally, had extensive international experience in professional development for teachers. In addition, Mandee's experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic provided an understanding of Dominican culture - invaluable when wanting to implement an effective training workshop for teachers. Together, Kathy and Mandee made the perfect team.

Kindred spirits, they went about designing a teacher training curriculum to help teachers improve learning in the classroom using computers for on and offline learning. Their goal: to pilot it as part of their eCorps trip to the Dominican Republic (DR).

Kathy and Mandee did just that. 

Their teacher training curriculum was piloted in the DR including teachers from schools that received computers from WCE. For some, these were the first computers in their schools and many had received little to no previous computer training. And this meant -- starting with the basics.

Their hands-on workshop covered basic orientation of the Ubuntu open source operating system and tools. (WCE preloads Ubuntu as the operating system on its computers. See Why we use Ubuntu)) The focus was on teaching 'how' to find the various options when needed and 'where' to go within Ubuntu’s product. A basic understanding on when and what each of the products is best used for teaching also teaches how to navigate within Ubuntu and take advantage of the products offered. For example, finding and using the various Ubuntu products such as Writer (documents), Calc (mathematical/science/statistics), Presentation (slide shows/presentations), EDUbuntu (education games that build skills and knowledge in a variety of subjects) builds both computer navigation as well as curriculum-driven knowledge and skills

Since most of the teachers had never had any formal training in Internet use, they were trained in effective Internet searching and browser bookmarking, downloading information and photos, as well as how to conduct searches for relevant educational sources. Once the basics were covered, teachers were shown how to integrate these tools and Internet skills into their lesson plans and use them with their students. For the final part of their training, teachers were introduced to the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) to learn how online collaborative project work can enhance teaching and learning. At the workshop, they learned how to access the online network to explore projects and find out how they and their students can connect directly with their peers around the world.

The piloting of the curriculum will continue with the Zimbabwe eCorps trip in September. The eCorps Zimbabwe team, which includes an iEARN teacher from iEARN-Botswana, will be reviewing and updating the curriculum prior to leaving.  iEARN-Zimbabwe and World Links Zimbabwe, our hosts,  will also be helping with curriculum review and the piloting of v.2  with the schools.