Thursday, 1 November 2018

Memorable professional development for KZN Subject Advisors

In October 2018, SchoolNet SA facilitators Hlengiwe Mfeka and Senzo Ngcobo completed the Intel Tablets in the Classroom for 28 GET subject advisors from Kwa-Zulu Natal at the Bergville Education Centre. These subject advisors had already attended two previous courses namely; ICT Skills for Teachers and Using Digital Resources in the Classroom. The Tablets course, which formed the final step in their professional development pathway, aimed to provide subject advisors with tools and strategies for integrating tablets into the classroom.


In addition to the standard modules covered in this course, subject advisors completed a range of  activities that introduced them to additional tools and collaborative strategies for teaching and learning in mobile environments.


The subject advisors who attended the workshop were drawn from a range of districts across the province, including Umgungundlovu, Ilembe, Harry Gwala, Ugu, Amajuba, Umzinyathi and Uthukela. The group was described as “enthusiastic, jubilant and receptive throughout the week” and whilst most delegates had attended previous sessions, the four new delegates fitted into the group well.

The workshop was opened by Mr R Masondo the MST & ICT Deputy Director. He warmly welcomed everyone and highlighted the technological knowledge gap which the department was trying to bridge through this professional development. After a second ice-breaker, a course overview was provided. Delegates learnt that across the week’s activities they would be covering the 6 C’s of the 21st century skills (critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, citizenship and character) and that they would also be introduced to coding – whilst trying out different activities that would build these skills whilst using tablets.


With the introductory plenary complete, participants were split into two computer labs to begin the hands-on sessions with the same facilitator they had worked with at previous workshops. On the first day subject advisors learnt about the jigsaw teaching strategy.  Nomvuyo Thobela noted “This strategy ensures understanding of the content because each expert group member knows that he has to pay attention because he would have to teach his home group members later on”.


On the second day the group completed the Hour of Code Minecraft Adventurer Tutorial. The facilitators noted that  “at first, they thought it was just an easy game, that they’d cruise to the finish, but as they progressed, they realized that they had to apply their minds to move on to the next level of each puzzle. They agreed that coding does enhance creativity, collaboration and problem solving skills.” A further highlight of the day was using the tablets to create videos outside and then  uploading these to YouTube.


The third day of training involved a discussions about selecting quality educational apps and some hands on activities using a range of apps that are available on tablets. Mfeka reported that “delegates found these computational thinking activities very thought provoking and said this is what their learners needed to improve their performance, especially in the STEM subjects”. The fourth day of training involved groups learning about effective tablet management and internet safety by watching videos and sharing personal stories.


Whilst other groups of subject advisors who have attended similar workshops have also enjoyed a Gala Dinner, this group showcased their talents in a range of performances that made the evening especially memorable. All delegates received certificates at the Gala Dinner, and delegates who had excelled in various activities across the week were recognised for their achievements.


The course ended with subject advisors finalizing their action plans to ensure that their learnings would be shared across their districts, wrapping up their video uploads, thanking interns, and completing the course evaluation. Delegates expressed gratitude to the SchoolNet SA facilitators, with one subject advisor commenting that “This course has equipped me to contribute meaningfully to teaching and learning”. 

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