On 24th May, 2019, members of the ICT Teachers Association of Uganda attended an event entitled, ‘A Digital Classroom: Teachers of the 21st century workshop.’ According to the invitation letter (download here), this event was organized through the American Centre, to encourage and empower teachers with interactive learning tools as a key to student engagement in the digital classroom. The workshop entailed activities and presentations from attendants with guidance from the trainers. It was aimed at encouraging the teacher to appreciate and use technology in collaborative ways to get the most out of digital education.
Personally I boarded a safe boda from my home in Kyebando which dropped me at U.S. Embassy Kampala at Plot 1577 on Ggaba Road. From there I was told to proceed down to the Embassy Plaza building at Plot 1188/1190 on Ggaba Road which houses the American Center on 5th floor.
Despite the fact that members of the ICT Teachers Association were notified on short notice, they did not disappoint – even the early morning drizzles in Kampala could not stop them. I found may of them already at the venue.
Note worthy among the teachers I met was Mr. James Kwera, an ICT Teacher from Kitgum. He told me that he saw a post about the digital teachers workshop in the Nothern Uganda ITAU WhatsApp group the previous day , he boarded a night bus at 9pm in Kitgum and arrived Kampala at 4am, and was among the first to check in at the American Center.
After the drizzles had reduced, the workshop kicked off. The workshop’s facilitators were introduced to us. They included a team from Ultimate Media Consult, TODIDEA and the American Center which was the host.
Last year, the American Embassy entered a collaboration with Yaaka digital learning network and TODidea to conduct digital pedagogy trainings at the American Centre in addition to outreaches at remote venues. The embassy chooses and invites the trainees and advises on the venue from which the training takes place. This workshop was one such event.
According to Wikipedia, Digital pedagogy is the study and use of contemporary digital technologies in teaching and learning. Digital pedagogy may be applied to online, hybrid, and face-to-face learning environments.
To introduce the concept of digital pedagogy and its relevance, facilitators played some videos for us. Some are embedded below:
What do you learn from the above videos? This is the exact question which was posed to the members after each video.
From the discussion, the following points were raised by the participants.
The participants were broken into several groups to do some activities of creating digital content using several tools.
Group 1, 2 and 3 were introduced to Piktochart, a web-based infographic software. Piktochart is similar to Google Slides and PowerPoint, but it allows users without intensive experience as graphic designers to easily create Presentations, Printable designs and Infographics (graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly). The designed files can be stored online and shared with ease.
Group 4 did a project of creating lesson videos. Teachers came up with different topics and used cameras to make recordings of lessons which were being delivered by their colleagues. Windows Movie Maker 10 software was used to edit the videos and convert them to suitable formats which can be uploaded to YouTube or saved on DVDs which can be given to the students as they go for holidays to keep learning or revising at their own pace. It was demonstrated that Windows Movie Maker is easy to use, with buttons at the bottom to import, crop, add transitions and export the videos in various formats.
Within a short time, the groups created media-rich presentations having text, graphics, embedded YouTube and Vimeo videos, interactive maps, shapes, etc. Each group was tasked to practically explain who they came up with the amazing presentations in a short time. Shortened URLs of the presentations were used to load the presentations online. A teacher noted that if teachers embrace using online/ cloud based applications like Piktochart, they can be guaranteed that their work is auto backed up on the cloud and will always be available, and can also be exported and downloaded for offline use. Below is a photo gallery of showing some of the workshop participants and facilitators who made presentations during the workshop.
Teachers were encouraged to create digital content and videos. It was noted that when you search for tutorials on YouTube, you hardly find local content. Teachers should open up YouTube channels and start producing videos – even if they are not of high quality or edited, it is better that nothing. The learners can be involved in these content creation projects. For example, some teachers are very resourceful, but their resourcefulness ends within the walls of their classes. There are very many benefits of publishing content online. Digitizing our knowledge creates more impact and exposure. When you sleep, you don’t sleep with your knowledge. It can be shared across several platforms and can earn you income as people watch your content.
As we concluded the workshop, teachers raised a number of challenges they are facing in implementing digital pedagogy.
“We have a challenge of our head teachers who are opposed to digital pedagogy. There are bosses who are completely analog and don’t want to understand. ”These were some of the challenges raised by the teachers.
“Also, we have teachers who started teaching in the 70s, but when they see you with a computer in the staff room, they despise you saying that you are showing off. “
“We also lack the devices. You can requisition for something like a mouse of 10,000/= but the boss will not allow! He will tell you that he will buy it by himself! “
A teacher shared a testimony of how he was punished by his director of studies because he had delivered some lesson from home using video conferencing.
Members also noted that there has been digital pedagogy advocacy over the last ten years but even when the head teachers are invited for workshops, they don’t comply.
In conclusion, the teachers were advised that the challenges will always be there, but the opportunities are more than the challenges. The teachers should take an initiative to sacrifice their funds and acquire the basic requirements and strive to excel and inspire the rest of their colleagues. The bosses will naturally come on board so long as their perception in changed. The teachers were also urged to look at the success stories for inspiration. Start acting the right way step by step until they see a change in their schools. There are some schools like Gayaza High school which have build a name through providing e-resources on their websites and videos on their YouTube channel. So teachers can start by opening up YouTube channels and websites and start publishing content – next time some organization will be looking for teachers teaching digitally, you will be in that list.
Mr. Gerald Businge advised the teachers that whereas they may find it difficult to start on their own, they can decide to embrace collaborative platforms like Yaaka. Yaaka promotes digital learning. Teachers can join Yaaka Digital Learning Network and put up their own courses and sell them, because even mobile money payments are integrated. You can decide to set a charge of your courses to any fee and the Yaaka team is there to give the necessary support.
There are very many tools and partners promoting digital pedagogy, lets take advantage of this.
This workshop comes at a time when the ICT teachers association is planning Regional Capacity Development Workshops in all regions of the country during the course of second term, and this message of embracing digital content and technologies in teaching and learning is now one of the suitable topics teachers could ideally share about during the workshops.
Article by Mukalele Rogers
National Coordinator – ITAU 2019 -2020
0776960740 / 0706060740
This post was last modified on November 24, 2019 5:41 pm
Now that schools are closed and movement is restricted, how are schools going to handle…
Headteachers of primary and secondary schools in the districts of Mpigi, Gomba and Butambala converge…
Muntuyera High School-Kitunga is one of the legendary boys only secondary schools in Ankole found…
Technology is Transforming Education and it's even changing what people do for a living in…
The Covid-19 pandemic brought an unprecedented dimension in the life of many of us teachers.…
Digital literacy and transfer training are two skills that are becoming more and more important.…