Tuesday, 29 May 2018

KZN Subject Advisors master Using Tablets in the Classroom

In May and June 2018 two groups of FET KwaZulu-Natal Subject Advisors, completed the five-day Intel Tablets in the Classroom at the Ukhahlamba Education Centre in Bergville, facilitated by Hlengiwe Mfeka and Senzo Ngcobo of SchoolNet SA. This blogpost highlights some of the modules that were used to familiarize subject advisors with the features of tablets and strategies for teaching and learning in mobile environments.


Getting to know their tablets and classmates
In the icebreaker activity, delegates used the ArtRage app to introduce themselves by drawing an animal with which they share some characteristics. This was a great way for delegates to learn a little bit about their peers, whilst exploring a tool on the tablets at the same time.


Reflective activities for this course were done using the Evernote app – providing teachers with an opportunity to both record their learnings about tablets, whilst also exploring the functionality of this online note-making tool. 

The activity around basic tablet functionalities was done using the jigsaw strategy. This allowed subject advisors to explore the tablets, and collaborate with one another, and because each subject advisor had to teach their colleagues about the function he or she had been assigned, everyone became actively involved.

Focusing on Educational Applications and Software
The “give-one get-one” strategy provided an opportunity for subject advisors to learn more about Media Camera, Pixlr, ArtRage, Sketchbook, Evernote and Foxit Reader. Participants were divided into groups of four and had to explore their assigned app and how it could be used in the classroom. The groups then circulated to provide an opportunity for each group to share their discoveries with groups that had explored other tools.


Trying Out a Student-Centred Activity
After the Random Team Generator was used to assign subject advisors to groups, each group member was appointed as their team’s photographer, annotator, publisher or student team leader. Each group was tasked with finding objects in and around the classroom beginning with their randomly assigned alphabet letter. These objects were then photographed and the photos were annotated, shared by Bluetooth and published to Google Drive. In addition to being lots of fun, the activity demonstrated a range of tablet features and yet another way in which a teacher could structure an activity using devices for their learners to collaborate.


An Afternoon Skill Snack
The afternoon snack session involves delegates learning how to do something of their choice. One group expressed an interest in being able to record and upload a video from their tablets to YouTube and to then share this link. The subject advisors were thrilled to learn how to do this, and felt this was a relevant skill for the teachers in order for them to share their video lessons with their students online.

Evaluating Educational Apps
Whilst there are thousands of educational apps available – teachers need some guidance in determining the best app for their audience and purpose. The subject advisors were shown how to use an Educational App Rubric to review an app’s educational value and learning impact prior to installing it. They were also given tips such as checking an app’s reviews and ratings, and determining whether an app was free before downloading large apps that may prove to be unsuitable.


Tools for Student Assessment and Interactivity
Teachers can ask learners to raise their hands in class to answer questions or to determine how well a concept was understood but shy learners seldom get involved, and weak learners don’t volunteer to answer leaving the teacher unsure about who actually understood what was being taught.
In the Tablets in the Classroom course, delegates tried out Poll Everywhere, Socrative and Kahoot to see how these tools can be used to encourage audience engagement.  The subject advisors then set up their own quizzes to see that it is easy to create an interactive lesson and shared their learnings using the Pair and Share strategy with a subject advisor who had explored another assessment tool.


Effective Tablet Management in the classroom
Towards the end of the course, subject advisors had a growing enthusiasm for using tablets in the classroom, but realised that the tools would need to be effectively managed. They appreciated the session on classroom management as they will be able to share the various strategies with teachers in their districts that have access to tablets at their schools.


 Showcase and Gala Dinner
On the final day of training, subject advisors completed some portfolio activities to showcase what they had learnt. The highlight of the week’s training, for each group, was an elegant gala dinner sponsored by Alpine Heath. This exclusive event included presentations by subject advisors on what they had done with their teachers since the initial training session, and the presentation of certificates.


Implementing what they have learnt
The subject advisors completed two courses in ICT integration, namely ‘Using Digital Resources in the Classroom’ and ‘Introduction to Tablets in the Classroom’. These proved to be a great success as participants felt confident to go back to their districts and effectively support their teachers to implement the digital literacy framework and make it a living document in their respective schools.  The WhatsApp group created during the workshop continues to buzz as subject advisors share tips, pictures and stories of their implementation after the workshop. 


If your school has invested in tablets, or is running a Bring-Your-Own-Tablet system, please be in touch with info@schoolnet.org.za for a quote on us facilitating the Intel Tablets in the Classroom workshop for your teachers. We would also be willing to offer training for subject advisors, similar to the workshops we ran in KwaZulu-Natal, in other provinces or districts.

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