Over the past two weeks I’ve had the tremendous privilege to teach and learn in Dominica. I think it went amazingly well. Walking into a new lab was certainly a surprise. They are installing new computers and labs with mounted projectors in a number of locations. A few places are even getting smartboards. I worked for the two weeks on convincing our ministry contact Luguay that they should be mounted low. so that the students can use them. They didn’t envision student using the boards, but after I demonstrated how they work and had a few of the children teachers brought with them up there using it, he was convinced ( I hope!).
IT for Dominica Trip Blog – http://deyenberg5.edublogs.org
Everyone in the course seemed to enjoy and work with the Web 2.0 materials we covered, but they didn’t see the value right away, and some never did. Many of the older teachers only wanted to learn Microsoft Word and Excel and were only worried about using the computers themselves, not how they would use them with the kids. I kept hearing – the IT teacher uses computers, I don’t need to, I only want to learn this so I can type and keep marks. It was frustrating for me to see the teachers not realize how important it is to use and integrate computers into teaching. Even with one machine, there is so much they can do. A focus next year would be how to use one or two machines effectively. They should look at how to use technology in all subjects, not just in IT class. The teachers were always focused on the entire class in a lab, instead of using the computer as a station, working together on a project, or having the students use the “teacher” machine at all. Perhaps it is the traditional nature of education on the island, but I know I convinced a few of the value of collaborating and connecting with the world, so hopefully it will spread. (my personal biases don’t show up at all!)
I did take time to show excel and help them set up mark spreadsheets, as this is a definite need. We also showed typing tutors, and more traditional researching on the internet, which are important uses of technology.
The best part of the two weeks was on Monday of the second week. I set up a Skype session with Rocky back in Canada to show the power of video conferencing to connect with classes and experts around the world. I used Skype to show a free medium that is commonly used. After Rocky told us about some of the ways he has seen video conferencing used, I connected with Zoe Branigan-Pipe. She’s a teacher in Hamilton who I skype with on a regular basis. We use skype as teachers to share ideas and resources, but our classes also skype together once a week to learn about other parts of Canada, collaborate on a wiki about Ancient Rome, reflect and video comment on blog posts we left each other, and judge crazy hair day styles. When Zoe and I talked about the things we had done, and shared just how easy it was, the teachers in Dominica were very excited. I’ve already got Dominica teachers on my Skype contact list – so I’m excited to have some Canada/Dominica connections this year.
Another huge hit was Google Earth when I showed how to navigate, create pinpoint tours, and record right within google earth. The teachers loved it and played with it whenever they got a chance. After we VC’d with Canada and I used Google Earth to show where in the world we connected with, and how far apart Lethbridge and Hamilton were they loved to see the two tools used together to learn more about the world.
With most of the time spent on Web 2.0, we covered many tools, especially in my higher class. To my class I showed, and gave time to use:
Blogs – Edublogs
Wikis – Wetpaint
Interactive Posters – Glogster
Talking Avatars – Voki
Movie, Poster, Painting – Kerpoof
Art Websites – 8 Great Sites
Interactive Sticky Note Bulletin Board – Wallwisher
Word Cloud – Wordle
Math – The Math Worksheet Site
Search/Crossword Puzzles – Puzzle Maker
Problem Solving Game – Factory Balls
Problem Solving Game – Factory Balls 2
Make Your Own Game – ClassTools
Language Arts – Grammar Ninja
Interactive Math – Math 5 Live
Language Arts and Reading – Read Write Think
Thinking Games – Brain Games
Photo Storage – Flickr
Photo Editing – Picnik
Photo Search – Tag Galaxy
Micro Blogging/Status Updating – Twitter
Math Manipulatives – Interactives
Turning Images into a Video – Animoto
Turning Text Into a Movie – XtraNormal
3D Planet, Moon, Mars, Ocean, and Sky – Google Earth