IT for Dominca

I’m headed back to Dominica this summer to teach a two week course about integrating technology into the classroom.  I can’t wait!  It is my third trip down to the tiny island nation (not the Dominican Republic – look it up!) Everyone cross your fingers for no hurricanes. The Caribbean in July can be a bit touch and go! I’m also looking forward to hiking in the rain forest some more. It’s me way down in the pink in the photo!
The IT for Dominica project aims to provide professional development to teachers in the area of technology in education.  Our plan for this summer roughly looks like this so far:
Day 1

  • Getting to know each other
  • “Begin at the end” – Course aims and goals
  • Getting to know the lab
  • Setting up e-mail accounts
  • Introduction to Blogs

–      Existing blogs

–      How might teachers use blogs

–      How blogs fit in the classroom

–      Create your own blog:

–      Copy/paste into a blog from Word

–      View each other’s blog

Day 2

  • Tool of the Day:
    • Web Use, Searching, and Safety

–      Typing programs (Bruce’s Typing Tutor and Dance Mat Typing)

–      Web Searching (Kid safe searching, image searching, ethical use)

–      Image Searching – Creative Commons and Ethical Use

  • Social Networking (Twitter, Facebook)

–      Internet Safety and Social Networks

  • Review Blogs

–      Add Photos

–      Add Links

Day 3

  • Tool of the Day:
  • Social Bookmarking – Delicious
  • Exploring to find web sites for participants specific curricula: add five to personal blog
  • RSS Google Reader and building a network to find resources
  • Creation of a Dominica Ning to connect teachers
  • Blog Entry – Favourite web site that meets their classroom needs and discussion of student safety

Day 4

  • Tool of the Day: puzzle websites
  • Introduction to Wikis:

–      existing wikis

–      describe how teachers may use a wiki

–      how wikis fit in the classroom

  • Curricular ties
  • Classroom wiki use examples

–          start Dominica Wiki

–          create your own wiki using Wikispaces

–          copy/paste into a wiki from Word

–          Pages, History, Discussion Settings on a Wiki

–          Inserting video into wikis from youtube and teachertube

–          view each other’s wikis

  • Blog Entry: Describe the difference between a wiki and a blog.

Day 5

  • Tool of the Day: Google Earth
  • Introduction to Podcasting
  • Audacity, Myna
  • – sound searching
  • Blog Entry: How can I use sound in my classroom

Day 6

  • Tool of the Day:
  • Introduction to Glogs:

–      existing glogs

–      registering a class

–      create a glog

  • Blog Entry: Educational uses for Glogster

Day 7

  • Tool of the Day:
  • Video in the classroom
  • Jaycut, Masher, Goanimate, Xtranormal, MeMoov
  • Blog Entry: How can video enhance teaching?

Day 8

  • Tool of the Day:, Google Docs, Open Office
  • Productivity Tools
  • Marking and Storing Grades Excel, Engrade
  • Blog Entry: Web 2.0 vs. Productivity Tools – where should our efforts focus?

Day 9

  • Tool of the Day:, taggalaxy, flickr
  • How to make the best use of limited resources
  • What can I do with one computer
  • What other tools do I have to use in my classroom
  • Cell phones in the classroom

Day 10

  • Tool of the Day: Prezi, Ahead – Presentation Tools
  • Discussion: How to bring about change, sharing, and collaborating
  • Show and share day
  • Course Evaluation

For the past two summers I have spent two weeks instructing teachers on the island of Dominica (not the Dominican Republic – look it up!) .

I’m going back (pending funding, masters program timing, and other “details”) this July for a third session.

Each year as I go I love what I do, but I see an opportunity to make a larger impact and really transform the way technology is approached in Dominica.  Just trying to change the world, no big deal!

My IT Masters course this semester has been all about Professional Development.  I took on the IT for Dominica project to dissect and improve as part of my studies of Instructional Technology Leadership.

I wrote two papers all about the project.

The first is a critique of my last two years in Dominica.  It was hard to reflect on my own choices and mistakes, but a process necessary to move forward.

Critique IT for Dominica Project

The second is a plan for the July 2010 IT for Dominica summer institute.  These are my thoughts and are most likely subject to change after consultation with my yet to be named teaching partner, the head of the project, Dr. Maurice Hollingsworth, and the Ministry of Education in Dominica.

IT for Dominica Professional Growth and Development Proposal

The program focuses on Web 2.0 and building a collaborative teaching and learning network in the Commonwealth of Dominica.  It’s an interesting read if you interested in Web 2.0 or if you are interested in IT in the developing world.

I would love feedback and suggestions.  At this point the assignment is officially submitted, but the institute is months away.  There is a lot of time to make it the best it can possibly be.

There has also been quite a bit of day dreaming about hiking in the rainforest instead of hiding from the snowy Canadian winter and -35 temperatures…

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 –

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

Jigsaw Puzzles – National Geographic Map Puzzles Make Your Own Jigsaw

Art Websites – 8 Great Sites

Interactive Sticky Note Bulletin Board – Wallwisher

Word Cloud – Wordle

Math – The Math Worksheet Site

Typing Tutors – Bruce’s Typing Tutor BBC Dance Mat

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

Online Comic Generator – Make Beliefs Comics Strip Generator

Mind Map – Bubble Us Mind Meister

3D Planet, Moon, Mars, Ocean, and Sky – Google Earth

mapThe IT for Dominica project is a one man show – Dr. Maurice Hollingsworth, who is trying to help the people of Dominica.  It started ten years ago with old computers from schools around Lethbridge going down to Dominica.  Several shipments of machines when down and were installed, and to support the new computers on the island a program of professional development was started.  Today machines aren’t sent down to Dominica anymore, as they have alternate sources of funding, but two teachers still go down every summer to run a summer institute on how to integrate and use technology.  The program is funded largely through the provincial Alberta Teacher’s Association and the Palliser Local 19 of the ATA.   It’s teaching helping teachers make education better through the use of technology.  I’ve personally been involved in the project for two years.  I spent two amazing weeks teaching IT, focusing on web 2.0, last summer.  I just arrived in Dominica today and I begin two more weeks tomorrow.  We are supposed to have 43 students, I’m very excited to get going, and to see more of this beautiful island.  Now I’m in Dominica – not the Dominican Republic – common mistake.  It is further south, in the Windward Island chain – about 15 degrees N.  It is hurricane season and currently we are being hit by a tropical wave and there are two not so nice looking systems churning away in the Atlantic.

Follow my journey through teaching and traveling in Dominica:

Learn more about the IT for Dominica Project: