The teachers and students at Potou Elementary School now have ongoing access to digital resources the whole class can enjoy. The CyberSmart Africa team continues to support them to use digital content – from maps to math – as part of classroom learning. The teachers and students use a large interactive screen so that the whole class can benefit from up-to-date instruction. Our focus through the remainder of 2014 and into early 2015 is to support the teachers’ ongoing ability to integrate technology in ways that encourage student to become more active classroom participants.
CyberSmart Africa believes that the “whole-class” approach can provide a solution for massively scalable digital learning. The teachers and students at Potou Elementary School illustrate proof-of-concept that in one class day, hundreds of students can benefit from up-to-date learning resources. Lessons learned from training, observational school visits, and ongoing discussions with the pedagogical team help us innovate digital learning that is directly reflective of teacher and student needs.
Four Key Observations
- The teachers in Potou have shown that the large, interactive display can be used to deliver resource-rich instruction – even in classrooms without electricity.
- The equipment needs to be simplified to the extent that it is as quick and easy to use as a mobile phone.
- Teachers are not textbook writers and should not be expected to create digital lessons from scratch, or to spend excessive amounts of time searching for quality lesson content. All the content they need to teach must be readily available to them.
- Teachers need ongoing support to improve their ability to integrate technology with classroom instruction, and to teach using learner-centered strategies. We need to minimize the time spent on technical support so that professional development can focus on improving pedagogy. It is generally accepted that student achievement goes up when teachers are better trained.
A combination of uniquely adapted equipment, comprehensive learning content, and ongoing teacher training can bring high quality, up-to-date learning to any school in sub-Saharan Africa – on or off the electric grid. The economics of scale are also pointing toward a low cost per student that will make quick uptake possible throughout the region and elsewhere.