Closing the digital divide by Nomcebo Dladla and Nomfundo Sibeko

Nomcebo Dladla, Regional School Coordinator, KwaZulu Natal 

WhatsApp Image 2020-09-22 at 19.30.16Universities appeared desperate to salvage the first semester at all costs. Most of them have the ability to deliver their teaching and learning commitments using online platforms, but, not all students have laptops or internet connections, especially if they had gone home during the lockdown to places without connectivity. The inequalities in our country were further highlighted during this pandemic.
The Global Teachers Institute remained at the forefront of initial teacher education, by ensuring that every Future Leader had access to a Laptop and also giving them a data allowance making sure that they had internet access, through vigorous fundraising campaigns. This initiative allowed online learning, teaching, and mentoring to continue.
We hosted a variety of WhatsApp workshops and digital summits using Zoom conference calls, in an effort to ensure our Future Leaders continue mastering the best instructional practices, classroom management techniques, opportunities for their personal development. The flexibility of online learning allowed the regional schools’ coordinators to provide more individualised support, by making One-on-One calls to all their Future Leaders.

 

Future Leaders were encouraged to co-facilitate/co-teach with their school mentors and they got to teach using resources such as Google Classroom, Zoom, WhatsApp, etc. Although online learning during the pandemic was not without its challenges, it provided us with an opportunity to try innovative ways to continue mentoring and professionally developing those in our program.

Nomfundo Sibeko, Regional School Coordinator, Johannesburg

WhatsApp Image 2020-09-21 at 12.18.50It has been a delight to be continually learning and engaging with Future Leaders online and seeing them share, develop, appreciate, encourage, include each other, teach and continue to have courage during this time. What was most striking for me, was how quickly Future Leaders were able to adjust and be open to this new way of sharing knowledge, information and growing personally and professionally.

We have moved from looking at what emojis on WhatsApp mean, to how we can use emojis to improve learner participation in our WhatsApp groups. The camera option is no longer just for selfies and taking pictures but more to collect tasks and evidence for learner interaction. We no longer share videos just for fun but we share them so that learners can gain more information, allow them to be as creative as they want to be and authenticate their ideas into action.

Personally, I had to rewire my own thinking around how each day is filled with endless possibilities to continue discovering new ways we can all develop ourselves. It is a great time to explore new opportunities using online communities and keep growing as individual employees, business partners, school leaders and communities at large. There are various online sharing platforms suited for both personal and professional growth. Let’s keep learning and leading!

 

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