Tuesday, 28 August 2018

365Edu Events - Coming to Durban and Cape Town

365Edu Events, developed by teachers for teachers, take place around the world. They are hosted by the core 365Edu team and presenters include exemplary educators and Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts from the countries in which the events take place.

Two 365Edu Events are coming to South Africa:
  • The Durban event is taking place at Educor Education in Pinetown on Friday 12 October 2018
  • The Cape Town event is taking place at St Cyprians Girls School on Saturday 13 October 2018 
These conferences are fun, high energy networking events that give teachers an opportunity to build confidence in using the latest technologies. The 365Edu team promises that 'you will leave this event with more confidence in tools and strategies you can put into practice the very next day!'

Explore the themes

Delegates can select sessions to match their objectives to be better teachers or school leaders from the following themes:
  • Microsoft Office 365 - to help you get the most out of your Microsoft software
  • Mixed Reality in the Classroom - with an opportunity to try out the latest VR headsets
  • Transformational  Planning - to help school leaders foster attitudes and actions for innovation
  • Microsoft and Minecraft - learn more about tools and programs on offer to South African schools
Lunch and Microsoft goodie bags will be provided and delegates could also win prize giveaways from sponsors.

Register now to pay the early bird price of $20 per ticket. (Note that ticket prices will increase to $30 and all tickets are subject to a ticket admin fee).

Get a sponsored ticket

SchoolNet SA has limited tickets available to award to teachers from under-resourced schools in Cape Town or Durban. If you would like to be considered for one of these sponsored tickets, please complete the application form here.  Please note that only your conference fee will be sponsored - you will be responsible for arranging and covering the costs of your own travel to and from the events - and accommodation and meals if required. 

More info

Learn more about the Durban event - and register - here
Express your interest in the Durban event on Facebook here

Learn more about the Cape Town event - and register - here
Express your interest in the Cape Town event on Facebook here

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

eSwatini holds it first 21st Century Educators’ Conference

On Friday 17 August the Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland) held its first conference on 21st Century learning at the SEDCO Conference Centre, in Manzini. 
Programme Coordinator, Edward Mawema described the conference as an opportunity for "eSwatini teachers to upgrade their teaching methods to meet the digital era’s revolutionary technology-based teaching”.  He expressed a hope that the conference would  “equip teachers with smart skills on utilizing technology for the teaching and learning purposes" and that this would help fast-track His Majesty King Mswati's vision of eSwatini becoming a First World nation by 2022.

Address by the Education Ministry

Dr A.S. Simelane of the ICT Inspectorate in the Education Ministry explained that teachers should have professional competence in using ICT proficiently, digital competence in integrating ICT strategically in the classroom, and an entrepreneurial understanding in using ICT innovatively in digital classrooms.  He referred to work by Dr Hawkins related to the digital divide between digital natives and digital immigrants. Dr Simelane advocated for 21st century learning that is student-centred, contextualised in the real world, integrated in society and involving active learning experiences.

Dr A.S Simelane of the ICT Inspectorate in the Education Ministry in Eswatini

An introduction to the CCTI course

SchoolNet SA's executive director Janet Thomson presented the Commonwealth of Learning’s Certificate for Teacher ICT Integration (CCTI) to the assembled teachers via Skype. This online qualification provides teachers with an opportunity to improve their teaching by upgrading their digital learning skills in relation to management, teaching and learning.  The activities within the course challenge school managers and teachers to read supporting content, plan and implement classroom activities and then to reflect on what they do in their schools and classrooms and how digital tools and resources can be integrated into their teaching and leadership styles.

SchoolNet SA's has played an important role in developing content for the CCTI qualification. Thomson noted that the course aligns to SchoolNet SA's emphasis on pedagogy rather than computer skills or technology. She added that there are no examinations and that assessment is based on a digital portfolio as well as on the quality of the students' reflection, interaction and collaboration. Thomson's presentation can be viewed here.

eSwatini teachers to be trained to international standards

The delegate teachers in Manzini were to become the first cohort to receive the CCTI certificate course.  After successfully completing at least four of the modules in 2019, the most competent teachers would be invited to train to become tutors of the programme for future student teachers.  By completing the course, eSwatini teachers will join teachers from Uganda, Kenya, Lesotho and various Caribbean countries as holders of the highly regarded international qualification. As inspiration, the eSwatini teachers viewed clips of Julius Mukama and Joan Talibawo, two Ugandan graduates of the course, reflecting on their experiences of learning with technology and completing the CCTI course.

Mawema said that there was a need for learning to move beyond the four walls of the classroom and that he had organised the conference to “touch on ways in which the education system in eSwatini could embrace this dynamic way of learning, when industry partners and educators come together to change the ways in which students receive and apply knowledge.”  

Monday, 20 August 2018

Sustainable Development Goals - using digital tools to reach and teach them

Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs as well. The Sustainable Development Goals are seventeen interdependent goals which countries that are members of the United Nations aim to achieve by 2030. They include eliminating extreme poverty, reducing inequalities and combating the threat of climate change.

Whilst the goals are ambitious, the more countries and people who share in a common vision for a more sustainable world, the more sustainable development there is likely to be. Learners who know more about sustainable development can support specific goals, they can come up with innovative solutions to global problems and they can actively campaign to solve problems in sustainable ways in their communities. 

As a teacher you can raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals in your classroom and you can select Goals that are related to your subject or that are important in your community to incorporate into your lessons. The Teaching Sustainable Development Goals course on the Microsoft Educator Community provides teachers with a bank of over 30 lesson plans that they can use to teach each of the Sustainable Development Goals in a way that is appropriate for the grades that they teach. Useful background information, links to powerful videos and comics related to the Sustainable Development Goals can also be downloaded from the Microsoft Educator Community.

Whilst there are a number of #SDG activities that don't require technology, we are sure that teachers with an interest in using digital tools in the classroom will be keen to try out the Flipgrid activities that encourage teachers and learners to add their voices to #SDG discussions. A range of Skype in the Classroom activities are also on offer including inviting a member of the #SDG task force to speak to your class or taking a virtual Skype field trip to a place related to one of the goals.

In addition to using the ready-made lesson plans, teachers are encouraged to embark on child-led action projects. Teachers who have developed their own #SDG lessons plans are invited to share these with a global community of teachers or classes may want to collaborate across countries on a common project that adresses on of the Goals. 

Why not try out the Teaching the Sustainable Development Goals course yourself? It only takes  an hour to work through the courseware and you can earn a badge and 500 Microsoft Educator Community points by completing the quiz at the end. More importantly, having worked through this course, you will be equipped with the skills and resources to be part of teaching the 'World’s Largest Lesson' - in that you will be able to spread the word of #SDG within your classroom and community. 

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Help girls to #MakeWhatsNext this Women's Day

When we encourage girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), we double the potential to change the world for good. This Women's Day let's think about why girls don't pursue careers in STEM - and what we as teachers can do about it.

Problem: Girls and young women have a hard time picturing themselves in STEM roles. They need more exposure to STEM jobs, female role models, and career awareness and planning.

Solution: Provide girls with role models of women who have successfully pursued careers in STEM or IT.

What we are doing: This year SchoolNet SA has worked with Microsoft Philanthropies and the Mpumalanga ICT Club Community of Practice to run a number of DigiGirlz events. As part of these events, women who have succeeded in careers that use digital technology speak to girls about their experiences in IT careers and girls try out a number of digital tools for themselves.

At the Soweto DigiGirlz event held in Soweto Sankari Nai, the Uber South Africa Lead Analytics Manager told girls from "programming is a magical world where you get to learn and create new things every day." She encouraged the girls to study engineering and embrace opportunities to master a range of skills.

At an Emalahleni DigiGirlz event three @MicrosoftSA women who described how they went from ordinary township schools to careers in IT. Girls were surprised to learn that women who now manage Microsoft's relationships with major South African companies went to schools where neither CAT nor IT were offered as subjects.

At a Moipane Maths Centre in Tembisa, SchoolNet's Mathapelo Sehume described to the DigiGirlz how she was the only girl in her class when she studied IT at college - yet she was the first one to write an pass the examination. She encouraged the girls to focus on their studies and not to believe stereotypes about which subjects are for girls.

Problem: Girls don’t initially see the potential for careers in STEM to be creative or have a positive impact on the world.

Solution: Expose girls to a wider range of possible careers that make use of STEM subjects and skills.

What we've been doing: At our YouthSpark workshops we have encouraged teachers to show learners the Make Whats Next Career tool. This tool asks learners to select two fields that they are interested in and a range of careers that incorporate those interests, as well as some STEM component, appear. This tool can be useful when grade 9 learners are selecting their subjects to take from grade 10, as well as when grade 11 and 12 learners are considering their options for tertiary studies as the tool shows a range of careers that many learners may not have heard of before.

Problem: Research shows that girls who participate in STEM clubs and activities are more likely to say they will pursue STEM subjects later in their education. So how can we get more girls doing STEM activities?

Solution: Provide teachers and learners with free resources and tools that they can use to introduce learners to basic computer science concepts. 

What we've been doing: Through the YouthSpark Grant that we received from Microsoft Philanthropies, we have been offering free introductory workshops to teachers who are keen to learn how to introduce their learners to the Hour of Code, Scratch programming, computational thinking using the Computer Olympiad resources and physical computing using virtual microbits

We would encourage teachers to try out these free resources with their learners to give them a taste of computer science and to create an imagination for the possibilities of pursuing a career in STEM.

For access to more free resources and ideas please see the Microsoft YouthSpark hub.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Cape Town Teachers - learn coding basics to share with your learners

Digital skills are often out of reach for the young people who need them most. In a world being transformed by technology, all youth should have the opportunity to develop the creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills gained by learning computer science. 

SchoolNet SA is delighted to offer teachers an opportunity to attend a free YouthSpark Workshop, sponsored by Microsoft Philanthropies. The aim of these workshops is to equip teachers with some skills and free tools that they can use to introduce their learners to computer science concepts - even if they don't have a computer science background. 

Who should attend?
We are looking for computer literate teachers (preferably from under-resourced schools) who are keen to introduce their learners to basic computer science concepts. If you are a computer literacy teacher or are running a computer club, or if you are a grade 4 - 9 teacher with access to devices then this workshop is for you.

This workshop is not aimed at CAT or IT teachers - nor is it computer literacy training for teachers. We are expecting teachers who have fairly good computer skills to come and learn how to do basic coding and computational thinking activities with learners.

Dates and Venues:
Register to attend ONE of the following sessions. The content presented at each workshop will be the same - with each session able to accommodate up to 25 teachers on a first-come-first-served basis. 
Cape Town Science Centre                                             I-CAN Centre
Dates: 25 August and 1 September                                Dates: 11 August and 18 August
Times: 10am - 2pm                                                         Times: 9am - 1pm
Address: 370B Main Road,                                             Address: 268 I-CAN Centre, 
Observatory, Cape Town                                                Old Multi-Purpose Building, 
                                                                                        Halt Road, Elsies River

There is no cost to attend the workshops however places are limited. Register here to secure your place today. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Calling Mpumalanga teachers who want to learn coding

The Mpumalanga ICT Club is a community of practice established by teachers to empower other teachers, learners and the community of Mpumalanga to develop their digital skills.

SchoolNet SA has worked closely with the club to present a range of opportunities for teachers to learn basic computer science skills that they can pass on to their learners. We look forward to co-hosing three Train the Trainer Coding Workshops which will be taking place as follows:
  • 11 August 2018 at Waterfal Boven TVET Campus
  • 18 August 2018 at Witbank TVET Campus and 
  • 25 August 2018 at CN Mahlangu Campus -Siyabuswa
Ice breaker activities will start at 8am - with the workshops starting promptly at 10am.

At the workshops, teachers will learn how to facilitate an Hour of Code with Megan Rademeyer and they will try out Scratch programming with Nomusa Keninda. We then hope that teachers will go on to run these coding activities as part of #AfricaCodeWeek and the #HourofCode so that learners from under-resourced schools can still have a taste of coding and computer science.

Places are limited to 60 teachers per workshop so sign up here as soon as possible.
Also ensure that you have joined the Microsoft Educator Community prior to the workshops so that you can earn some badges during the workshop.

Up-skill yourself - so that you can give your learners a chance to build their skills!

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Matthew Hains - a candidate for the Global Teacher Prize

Matthew Hains has entered the "Global Teacher Prize" - which annually presents a one million dollar award from the Varkey Foundation to recognise an exceptional teacher. We are happy to support Matt's nomination for this award as he is always willing to share his expertise on using digital tools effectively in the classroom with other teachers.

You may have seen Matt in action at the 2017 SchoolNet SA ICT in the Classroom conference where he presented a session on "The Digital Frontier - A Paperless Classroom?". Matt also conducted a session on using Microbits at the Brescia House CuriosITy workshops to encourage Grade 11 CAT and IT girls to bring code to life. 

In 2017, Matthew was selected to represent South Africa at the Microsoft E2 Education Exchange in Toronto, Canada. At this conference, Matthew explained that whilst he needs to ensure that his students know how to use Office applications, he aims to  provide opportunities for students to challenge themselves and to develop logical thinking skills at the same time. You can read the case study about Matt and his work here

Matthew has co-presented a number of Microsoft Virtual Academies for SchoolNet SA covering topics such as Using Kodu in the Classroom and Physical Computing. In these webinars, he talks teachers through various online courses and resources and gives tips for using them in South African classrooms.

If you are a CAT teacher, you are probably familiar with the Tech Teachers blog which Matt runs. This blog, along with the CAT and IT Teachers - South Africa Facebook group is a lifeline to teachers looking for resources or advice from other teachers. 

If you would like to support Matt's nomination for the Global Teacher Prize you can do so here.

If you would like to nominate yourself, or another exceptional teacher in your network, for the Global Teacher Prize, read more about the nomination process and eligibility criteria here.