While I was away with a group of kids from schools all over Cape Town, at the national Eskom Expo for Young Scientists competition, I was roomed with a wonderful lady who is as passionate about edtech stuff as I am. Typically, we spent one evening talking LATE into the night about an idea we have to help teachers. (Watch this space – I don’t want to give the game away just yet!) We then spent another night talking late into the night about an idea I had for next year’s Gd 10 field trip, based on something she has done previously, and planning it out.
Although I came back sick (or picked up a bug on the plane, I don’t know), and although being away meant I missed an important family wedding (at which my kids were page boy and flower girl!!), for these two conversations alone, it felt worth it. There really is nothing quite like collaboration! So why is it, then, that teachers (myself included) are so reluctant to work as a team? Why are we so afraid of sharing our resources with one another?
I think, speaking only for myself, that there’s a fear that someone else will get the credit for my work. There’s also the fear that I will be shown up as less experienced/ competent. Financially, I guess there’s also a fear that someone else will make money off my hard work. Often in SA, collaboration means those from well-resourced schools underpinning the rest. This gives rise to the feeling that I am doing all the hard work and someone else is benefitting. We need more quid pro quo in SA. Sadly, that’s not going to happen for a very, very, VERY long time.
In one of the conversations we had while away, my friend mentioned that she’d been chatting to Penny Vingervelt (yes, my friends know people in high places!) and Penny had commented that she was ecstatic that schools are finally getting the message that they need to have a timetable.
Slaan my dood!
If this is the kind of difficulty we are facing in SA at the moment, that there are still schools who either don’t know how to put a timetable together, or feel there is no real need for one, then God help us! Our education system is in a far greater disarray than I previously believed, and, quite honestly, all the work I’m doing looking at edtech is almost a waste of time. Surely I should be spending my time and energy on something far more basic – and with more far-reaching consequences – like training up teachers, or writing up material that they can use?
I was very depressed at one point in the few days we were away. I really felt like everything I do is merely a drop in the ocean, and what’s the point?
I don’t have the answer to that yet. So, for the moment, I’m going to keep doing what I’ve always done. But I will be thinking about this… yes, I may make a difference to a few hundred students at my school, but if there’s a way I can make a difference to thousands of students’ lives, then I need to expend my energies there. Working smarter, not harder, right? Same input for greater output. Makes sense, right?
What a blue the two days passed by in! As with last time, there was too much info to take in. The first day was fine, but by day 2 my brain was in overload mode, and I found it really hard to be an active listener, even though I was taking notes. Actually, taking notes really helped me to concentrate.
At a work level I came away with 2 things I really want to try (I’m not going to be an Ambitious Alice!) – using Diigo properly (as opposed to the half-hearted effort after the last EdTechConf), and playing with Edmodo/ Obami/ Google Apps for Education, to make a decision about a way forward for our school. Our teachers are keen to have subject websites, so I think this is something we really need to look at.
Oh – wait, there’s a 3rd thing – I want to investigate interactive projectors. Depending on how well they work, we can rather spend our limited cash on them, than on IWB’s.
Other highlights for me included having one of my BFFs at the conference (totally unexpected!) and meeting several people I’ve only known in cyberspace. As usual, having my DH at the conference with me was a real highlight. I ADORE the fact that we are interested in (some of) the same things, and that I have someone like-minded and easily accessible with whom to bounce around ideas long after the conference has ended.
On a personal level, I came away with only one thing I want to try – I’m going to look seriously at the MS Innovative Teachers Competition. I’m sure there’s a way that I can turn what I’m already doing into a project that could be submitted. If so, I think I would gain tremendous satisfaction from entering.