Showing posts with label Digital Natives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Digital Natives. Show all posts

28 September 2013

Blowin' in the Wind at School Poetry Recitation

My class VIII C will be reciting Bob Dylan's "Blown' in the Wind" today at the Mass poetry recitation in Bajothang. Poetry recitation in my school has become an exciting event since last year after it was made mass event, where the whole class goes on stage. Junior classes love it so much.

My class was hunting for a poem without success, every poem they put their finger on seemed to be taken by another class. Then I suggested "Blowin' in the Wind", which many wouldn't even think of as poem. But eversince it was included in class VIII reading list I confidently regard it as one. But the lyrics in their text is all messed up so I had to download the original and let them listen to Bob Dylan on Sound Cloud.

We have divided the class into three groups for the three stanzas, where each will have three questions to ask and the answer will be given by the whole class:
"The answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind."
However, I came to Thimphu on official assignment and my class was left on their own. The class captain updated me on the progress. Yesterday they called me to say they are done, I asked them to get ready and give me a miss call. When I received the signal I called them and listen to them over the phone. They really seemed ready. Today fourth period is the show time. They promised me some dramatization and banners, which I don't want to miss, so I have request a teacher friend to record on his cell phone for me. I will watch it when I get back.

All the best.

23 January 2013

Empowering Teachers

I haven't been on winter vacation for three years, and even forgot how it feels like to go on short summer breaks. I am paid and used for empowering teachers in our country and like me there are forty others spread across the country to leave no teacher behind on this aggressive computer literacy project. We don't have Sundays in our weeks nor do we have any national holidays once we begin but after every ten days our trainees change. I had the privilege of training over 200 teachers in four Dzongkhags giving me 200 reasons more to smile in life. 
If you are a teacher in Bhutan you already know what this project is all about and how important it is for your career regardless of your participation yet but not many of us realized that the program is much more than just a compulsory certifying course. Most are coming because they learnt that the certificate from this training is going to be a mandatory document while applying for promotion or scholarship. I have seen many teachers walking into my class with what-the-heck look on the first morning and on the last day the same people shake my hand so hard with gratitude and I could assume what's on their mind: I didn't know this was going to be such a life changing ten days.
Batch-2, Motithang Lab, 2013 Jan
I will sum up the curriculum of the ten days and let you decide if I made sense in saying it's a life changing ten days for teachers: 

  • Teachers learn to draw diagrams in Microsoft Paint, and this also help beginners gain Mouse balance.
  • They learn to setup question paper in Microsoft Word- Multiple choice, Filling Blanks, Matching, Labeling diagram and True or False. They also learn to plan their lesson in Word.
  • They learn how to prepare lessons using PowerPoint Presentation. Animation amazes lot of them.
  • They learn how to store student's marks in Microsoft Excel and prepare mark sheet there. All necessary formulas and functions are taught and practiced until perfected. Many teachers cannot believe that it could be so easy, quick and accurate. 
  • Then we take them on ride on internet. Google for anything and everything they ever want and mostly for downloading diagrams and pictures they would require for their presentation, question papers or regular lessons. Wikipedia for information resources. YouTube for video resources. Email for communication- everybody leaves the training with email address. And for advance users we teach them blogging, in short- they are shown the power of Web 2.0 tools. This make it very hard for us to drive them home after 5.
  • What more a teacher wants? In these ten days teachers are given enough time to practice daily and two days are dedicated for their assignments alone. 
Ladies of Khuruthang with my Partner Mr. Parsu Ram
By the end of the program nobody talks about the certificate they came for because they have too many new things in their head to wonder about. And for me repeating things over and over ceased to be boring, in fact I enjoy amazing people, I love the screams of excitement when teachers accomplish something. I have made wonderful friends and learnt values beyond holidays- I am living a meaningful life without Sunday, I am on a mission to empower teachers!  

05 November 2012

The Rights to Internet

The title "the Rights to Internet' might sound a little strange because it is neither from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 nor Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. But considering the time the two were drafted, Internet couldn't have bothered those big brains. Now internet is a serious matter. It divides people as much as it connects them. You must have heard about internet connecting people from across the world, and must wonder where this 'dividing' thing emerges from.
We all know the difference between rich and poor, and we know what makes one rich and other poor. Through that same scale if we look at people in this information world we can see how poor some people are in comparison to others. I meet hundred students every day and I can notice the difference in the degree of smartness among them. The smart ones, the critical ones, and the confident ones are mostly the ones who are in my Facebook friend list. They are the lucky ones who are connected to the world through internet. They are divided from the ones who are not connected, and in the information world they are the rich ones exercising their dominance over the poor in the classroom. The same reason divides the rural students from the lucky urban brothers. Why should something that is easily available become a dividing factor, after all we don't need railroads or airport to expand internet connectivity.
Image Courtesy: The New York Times
There is fiber optic cable running across the country, and it's very unreasonable if all schools are not given internet connection within next few years. Our children should not find themselves in alien lands after their graduation, they should get the real taste of life in schools. They should not just hear about internet like fairy tales, they should use it. Schools with internet connection must make it accessible to students through whatever means possible. We must break the dividing factor among the students of same school and among rural and urban schools. Everybody should have equal rights to internet just like any other rights.

30 October 2012

© Copyright Not The Right to Copy

I was very happy to discover that a presentation I prepared two years ago has gone a long way and found itself a tiny place among the many wonderful content materials in the four day long Educating for GNH workshop. 'Dealing with Digital Natives' was my award winning presentation from NIIT Chigphen Rigphel master teacher training in Paro College of Education.
The whole presentation was used in its original format, from title to pictures to the words used, and only thing missing was my name I have put on the last slide. The content development for the course must have gone through series of professional screening before it was made into this Educating for GNH Bible, and I was awestruck how a simple credit for intellectual property was overlooked.
Nevertheless I forgave the blunder right away on seeing how well it's serving its purpose of educating teachers on the need to update themselves to match up with their digital genius students. I enjoyed the expressions on the faces of my fellow participants as they saw the slides unfold. It was still doing the magic it did during its debut in Paro college where I packed the house.
Like a happy child I shared my joy of discovery with the chief lady during the lunch. She was wise enough to apologize for failing to credit, reason being that lots of stakeholders were involved in it and it had been difficult to track things. I happily admitted that I was proud to see it doing good job.
Then came the twist in the story, the facilitators, all senior teachers and principals, who were sitting around the chief lady looked at me in confusion. One was honest and said, "Now who could be the real owner of this presentation? When we were in Chhukha Dzongkha there was on teacher who claimed it was his. Then Thimphu, another claimed ownership." Another facilitator confirmed the incidences. I found myself blushing because now my claim could be perceived as another fool seeking attention.
I still remember that day. We were given to answer a set of questions pertaining to our current mode of teaching and what changes are required to cater to our young children. Other groups had obediently answered each question and presented. I chose to differ. I digested all the questions and built a free flowing presentation employing lots of satirical pictures.
I received houseful of laughter on each slide, the certificate of 'Best presentation' and lots of handshakes. Before I could get back to my seat I was handed with handful of pen drives. Some jokingly suggested me to sell it but I was more than happy to share it to all 40 participants in that room. They unanimously agreed that it could be used as the introduction to the whole Chigphen Rigphel Teacher training course.
It's obvious that everyone would have deleted my name from the last slide once they were using in their courses, which is how it reached to my class today without it, but who were those friends who not only let their cow graze on my land but wanted to change my sa-thram to their name?

09 July 2011

Catching up with the Students

With due respect, I was insulting* over fifty senior teacher for the last ten day. The Best thing about being teacher is that it doesn't really matter who saw the light first, they listened to me passionately. I began by tell them what computer is, then we sat together in finding ways to use it in doing our regular works. Then we went on to find out how we us Internet- yes I took them on a joy ride to Facebook.  I couldn't stop myself from telling them how I consider Google as the greatest Rinpochee- I didn't leave them until they changed their faith. They are now more Googlist then Buddhist!
Then I finally reminded them why we are learning what we are learning; we are not trying to learn something great to help us help our students but to Catch up with out students.
One of the cartoons I showed!

*Please, do not consider the literal meaning of the word 'insulting', I mean it in good humor. 

31 May 2011

Teaching the Digital Natives

 Teaching is soon going to be a very embarrassing job, with learners knowing far more than their teachers. The kids born in the digital age are exposed to hundreds of information sources through hundreds of technology, which we teachers may not have heard of even. We seem to be happy with how well we can explain the textbook and we are proud of our chalkboard skills, but things are changing so fast that each day a page from our textbook gets outdated, and kids find it hard to believe that there is no icon to click on the chalkboard, forget about 'save' option.
There were times, whole family will scream if a kid runs to touch the video deck, but now without your child's help you will scream at your new phone. Kids walk with Google in the pocket and you talk to them of what you learnt 10 years ago, what do you expect? Yes they are bored with you!
I have joined Bhutan W.I.R.Ed project three years ago to make sure I can always be useful to my students. The Singaporean project pioneered the used of Information Technology in Bhutanese Schools. However, three years couldn't make any difference in the way teaching happens in Bhutan. There wasn't so much energy in the young idea to push through the old mindsets.
However, NIIT offered EPICT Certificate course for the forty Chigphen Rigphel teacher trainers, to be completed in next eight months. Everything about the course shall be done online. At the end of the course, it is expected that the spark of Bhutan W.I.R.Ed project will glow on to become a huge fire of revolution in the way learning happens in Bhutan.
The First Forty- in Samtse with NIIT Staff
Teachers mustn't excuse themselves from learning technology, while the pace is still slow, there will come a time when the chance of coping is far from possible, and that's when you become useless for your students. Being awarded the best presenter during the course orientation I am fully motivated to remain ever useful to all generations of learners.