Friday, 27 February 2015

Profile: Microsoft #MIEExpert15 Linda Foulkes, teacher from Elkanah House who now works for Netlearn South Africa

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 This is a profile of Linda Foulkes one of South Africa’s Microsoft MiE Experts for 2015 (#MIEExpert15). Linda has contributed a number of blog posts on this blog in Microsoft Innovative Educator expert and is a regular webinar presenter for SchooNnet. Linda will soon be representing South Africa at the Global Forum in Redmond, Washington.  Linda’s blog can be found at: https://folklind.wordpress.com

My past school experience at Elkanah House High School in Cape Town
My role over the past eight years evolved many times whilst working for Elkanah House High School. I was responsible for the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification for our High School students, a tutor teacher for 10 beautiful girls, the ICT Coordinator and Staff Trainer for High School staff, particularly for the BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] program, and Induction training for new staff members.

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In addition, I hosted TeachMeets and started iPadMeets for teachers inviting all from the Western Cape. This year I want to start MicrosoftMeets!

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Being equally involved with IT and Academic departments [my role was split between the two] I certainly grew in terms of the challenges I faced being part of both departments.

During 2013 and 2014 I entered and trained students to compete at the Microsoft Office Special World Championships. My students were selected top in SA and were invited to compete at the World Championships in Disneyland and Washington, DC respectively. One of my Design students achieved first place in the Semi-Finals and was invited to participate at the Adobe Certified Associate Worldwide Championships last year.

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At the start of 2015, I was offered the stunning opportunity to join NetLEARN Update cc – the company who sponsored the MOS Competition  and ACA Competition SA winners for the past two years.

What I love about teaching
I love the fact that whilst being a teacher one must not forget that we are also “learners” – I learn something new about technology or education every single day. Especially those days, like today where I gained three very important skills whilst watching a video on the Microsoft Educator Network.

Every presentation, lecturer, conference and educational video, whether presented on a tool or just learning from others, is what empowers and ignites me to improve and grow each day, so that I can transfer that knowledge to teachers, students and corporates when collaborating. In my current role, I get to collaborate with so many teachers, which is inspiring. The use of social media is also a huge enabling tool, and very much part of my growth and professional development – I am very grateful for these learning interactions which enrich my knowledge every day.

When teaching Microsoft applications to children, even though one repeats material to different classes in a grade each week, for me every lesson is different, challenging, and rewarding.

My new position at Netlearn working with the Microsoft MOS Certification
I am really blessed in my new position as Area Manager | Trainer | Assessor: Western Cape for NetLEARN Update cc. This has allowed me more freedom to be proactive, productive and be directly involved with training students, teachers, and corporates with amazing Microsoft technologies. In addition, the ability to create customized relevant courseware for Certification programs, allowing my passion to move me forward.

Details about my learning activity on the Microsoft Educator Network
My learning activity is about the transfer of knowledge of researched tools to teachers, students, and the wider community. Teachers need a lot of support and encouragement and time is always a huge factor in moving a device or technology project forward.

This learning activity is applicable to students and teachers in all learning environments. The Potential of One-Note for Education is unlimited. This activity is an ongoing activity and a resource which is continuously updated and shared to teachers and students across the globe, at conferences or in collaboration and training sessions.

OneNote has so many benefits and most schools do not even know about this hidden gem and its power! It is so beneficial in connected classrooms [whether BYOD, in class, as tutorials for subjects, academic subject multimedia note taker, research, homework, tutorials in and out of the classroom, as an individual tool, a collaboration tool or as a subject resource to share live with teachers and students. The objective is to empower, equip, engage and inspire teachers with skills to active ICT as a tool in the classroom and with a focus on "you can do that in Office" - to use tools they already have access to. To continuously professionally and personally develop themselves in order to create meaningful lesson plans and to deliver same by focusing on the educational / subject outcome and not the technology!

Enable teachers by providing tools, training and support “in the classroom” so that they can professionally develop themselves enough to change the way they deliver lessons.
Be active using Social Media as well as face to face to promote and make knowledgeable the use of ICT in the workplace, in education and the importance of professional development and certification.

How I feel about being selected as a 2015 Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert
I still feel like I’m in the “pinch me, did this happen?” stage but at the same time extremely thrilled to be selected to represent South Africa at Redmond in April.

My passion over almost 25 years has been Microsoft Technologies and I always strive to equip myself, keeping up to date and certifying myself where possible. Many colleagues know that my passion is Microsoft products, tools and software and I love to enable others by making them aware of these tools, providing training and one on one support. I am looking forward to the privilege of collaborating and sharing experiences with others around the effective use of technology in education.

What I would like to see happening in education
Schools who embrace, value and adopt professional development of teachers and students is key. Tiny bursts of consistent learning, attending conferences and TeachMeets can move mountains when implementing device and / or one to one programs.

More than often, management [IT and Academic] do not involve themselves committedly to staff or PD training for technology projects they start at school – this is detrimental to the success of the organization or school and thereby stunts project growth and subsequent decline in staff adoption, student use of groupware technologies, and so on.

I would like to see the decision makers; Principals, Deputy Principals, IT Coordinators, IT Managers and IT Staff realize the importance of researching and examining the benefits which Microsoft Office Applications [Desktop, Cloud, Tablets] have to offer students, teachers and the seamless management of using the technologies in and out of the classroom, as well as for all spheres of school life.
Most decisions are made without proper research = limited knowledge = non-adoption of staff or students on implementation = wasted resources = huge financial implications = role players questioning why the program isn’t going forward…

My social networking details
Name: Linda Foulkes
Twitter: @folklind
Blog: http://folklind.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/foulkesatwork
LinkedIn: za.linkedin.com/in/folklind
Skype: foulkesatwork

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