Greetings one and all,
I have just returned home from a 8 day journey to South Africa where I had a brief holiday and presented at the national ICT conference. All I can say, "What a fabulous experience to open my eyes and mind to a whole new world!" The first few days in South Africa- I, my husband and Gerald Roos, our host and conference director, ventured out to the southern tip of South Africa to explore the natural habitats and environment of whales, penguins and the beautiful landscape. It was so gorgeous- please refer to my blog for a collection of photos- they will explain them selves at Innovative Educator 2.0
The workshop conversations and in-depth discussions with my aattendees opened up my eyes, my mind and my heart to an all-new technology world of limited connectivity. Did you know Africa was the last continent to gain access to television? This took place in 1974- wow this blew me away. Most of the school attendees that attended my workshop have one computer classrooms or a small lab environment, with extremely limited bandwidth- think of it as a computer lab where you recently trained in and each computer had to “dial up” to gain the connection. There were some exceptions though- some schools that attended now have 3G networks- equivalent to cell phones and multiple labs for technology integration to support their whiteboard initiatives.(The picture posted in the lab where I presented in- Not A Typical Lab though- this was computer lab was brought in by the Mustek Technology vendor to assist me for presentation purposes).
I also found it very- very interesting where most of the children in South Africa that attend a public school have cell phones. Cell phone plans in South Africa are relatively inexpensive- $70 Ran = $10 a month in US dollars. And when you sign up for a cell phone plan the cell phones are free. Many teachers in this area are using the cell phone technology to their advantage and allowing them into the classroom as a teaching tool to enhance the teaching and learning environment. (Isn’t this a novel idea America educators and administrators!) Also, the teachers are listening to the student’s needs and innovative ideas of cell phone and developing projects and specific lessons with these tools. This is truly amazing!
I tried video streaming my sessions, but due to the limited connectivity is was impossible. On a positive note- we did successful run a back channel chat to keep all 500 attendees actively involved in the conference conversation for the three solid days and it has continued to flourish beyond the conference. Feel free to check out the back channel chat at http://todaysmeet.com/SouthAfrica