ELearning Africa 2013

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At eLearning Africa 2013, we gave a talk and held a workshop!

1 Talk: An open multimedia professional development programme to support interactive teaching using ICT in SSA

1.1 Abstract

Our talk was in the session on "OER Platforms, Practice and Trends", see [1]. This session discusses emerging trends in Open Education - from OERs to MOOCs and their implications for expanding access to quality learning opportunities, learning assessment and policy.

Our ongoing research programme in Zambia supports teachers in embedding interactive methods of teaching and learning into classroom practice through exploiting digital technologies. It moves beyond ‘fragmented’ technology- and skills-focused initiatives by highlighting the crucial role of teacher support in promoting innovation and experimentation with teaching styles. We aim to develop teachers’ capability to use portable technologies, Open Educational Resources and Open Source software effectively to support students’ learning in mathematics and science through active participation, dialogue and collaborative enquiry. Our participatory approach particularly values the ‘voices’ of everybody involved. The research is founded on what is known to be effective in teacher education and classroom teaching in sub-Saharan Africa and devises practical tools for teachers and teacher educators that are underpinned by clear pedagogical principles.

The OER4Schools programme devised a professional learning resource for low-resourced primary schools in Zambia. The resource is freely available as an Open Educational Resource (http://www.oer4schools.org), and includes unique, professionally filmed video exemplars of interactive practices in Zambian and South African classrooms, and accompanying texts co-authored with in-country partners. It builds on an established, sustained teacher-led process for sharing and trialling new ideas, resources and practices; peer observation; discussion and joint reflection. We are currently in Year 2 of trialing the materials in a rural school. A number of peer facilitators lead their colleagues (Grades 1-9) through regular workshops using the resource, with technical assistance and internet connection from the adjacent teacher college.

We aim to provide school-centred, college-based, blended learning and distance learning forms of adaptable professional development, itself supported by new technology (offline or online) where available, and in other formats where not. In collaboration with Unisa, we are integrating parts of the resource and its underlying approach into a new set of Advanced Diplomas in Education for in-service teachers in the areas of mathematics and science. This will include increased emphasis on practical work, ICT, teaching practice and interactive pedagogy.

Our research questions include: What forms of stimulus and support are most effective in triggering change in pedagogy? What are the supporting and constraining factors? Methods include audio diaries, lesson and workshop observations, video recording, teacher interviews, and thematic analysis across the dataset. Our methodological approach draws on Davis’ review of the diffusion of ICT innovations from an ecological perspective. Our analytical lens focuses on the teacher and school management levels.

Our research has elicited a set of guiding principles for CPD in this and similar contexts. These include giving teachers ample opportunities to reflect upon and discuss their lessons and to pinpoint areas for development; providing a lesson plan template; head teacher support; creating a safe, respectful environment for trialing new strategies; taking a participatory approach at all levels. Outcomes include raised expectations of what children can achieve, evidence of more interactive practices and increased participation by all learners.

We demonstrate the OER4Schools resources, outline the research findings, and discuss implications for school teachers and leaders, teacher educators and policymakers. An accompanying workshop is available in the conference workshop programme.

2 Workshop: A Practical Introduction to OER4Schools: Supporting Interactive Teaching of Mathematics and Science


2.1 Event Leaders:

  • Abel Makonga, Chalimbana Basic School, Zambia
  • Bjoern Hassler, University of Cambridge, UK

2.2 Content:

This workshop is a practical, hands-on introduction to the OER4Schools programme and multimedia resource, covering the various areas of interactive teaching (such as whole class dialogue, effective questioning, group work, assessment for learning and lesson pacing, enquiry-based learning and project work).

We will do a number of fun and stimulating exercises linked with these areas that will tell us something about how we can engage with interactive practices in the classroom. The OER4Schools programme is freely available as an Open Educational Resource, and includes unique, professionally filmed video examples of interactive practices in Zambian and South African classrooms.

2.3 Proposed Agenda:

  • 14:30 – 14:45 Welcome and introductions
  • 14:45 – 15:30 Introduction to the OER4Schools resource (with activities and discussion)
  • 15:30 – 16:00 Activity planning
  • 16:00 – 16:15 Coffee break
  • 16:15 – 17:00 Sharing and discussion
  • 17:00 – 17:30 Next steps
  • 17:30 End

2.4 Target Audience:

The workshop is suitable for teachers, teacher educators and others who have an interest in exploring interactive teaching (such as head teachers, NGO-based professional development leaders, researchers or government staff working in education).

2.5 Prerequisite Knowledge:

Some practical knowledge of teaching or running workshops for teachers is desirable.

2.6 Outcomes:

  • For teachers: As an outcome of this workshop, you collaborate with colleagues on devising an interactive lesson plan, and commit to trialing this lesson plan back home.
  • For teacher educators: As an outcome of this workshop, you develop a session for your students, introducing them to an interactive technique.

There will be opportunities for networking in the future, so that participants can share their ideas over some period following the conference. The OER4Schools resource (including video clips) will be available on a memory stick for use during the workshop and for registered delegates to take away at the end. Please bring laptops or tablets where available.

Note: Participants are requested to bring their laptops or tablet PCs.