Education/News/December 2017/Creating Digitally Minded Educators at BETT 2017

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Creating digitally minded educators at BETT 2017


Author: NSaad (WMF) (talk)

Summary: Main points from sessions attended at the BETT 2017 Leadership Summit, and a full text response to the questions asked during the panel "Creating digitally minded educators"

"Creating digitally minded educators" panel at BETT 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In November 2017 I participated in a panel discussion at the BETT Asia conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to its website the mission of BETT is to, “bring together people, ideas, practices and technologies so that educators and learners can fulfill their potential.” I wanted to share some notes from some of the sessions I attended, as well as my responses to the panel I participated on.

Ministerial Panel: Celebrating 50 years of ASEAN Collaboration--moving towards a 21st century model for education


Main points:

  • It is vital to localize both teaching and assessment content
  • We must ensure that parents understand different paths to success in the 21st century. For example, TVET (technical and vocational education and training) is being promoted by many governments as a key link to work opportunities for youth, but parents see it as a 2nd class education.

Keynote, Anthony Salcito, Microsoft Education


Main points:

  • 21st century skills are vital life skills
  • To ensure success adopt an outcome based mind set--don’t start with the device, start with the outcomes you are trying to achieve.
  • Are we using data to drive insights and outcomes? This is a critical area for improvement.
  • We don’t want tech to replicate an old world of learning.

Key questions:

  • Can tech extend learning beyond the classroom?
  • Are we providing amazing, immersive experiences that excite students and help build skills for the future?

Learning Analytics, Damien Yee, Chief Learning Officer CXS Analytics


Main points:

  • Teacher development begins with data driven insights
  • Older teachers need more support to leverage their experience and skills in a digital learning environment.
  • Data can help link education to employability.

Panel, Creating Digitally Minded Educators


1. What sort of environment do you need to create before thinking about infrastructure and training? At the international and national level, an environment that understands and adapts to the needs of the 21st century workforce. At the school level, this means empowering teachers, creating school environments where teachers are valued and encouraged to be active and lifelong learners. You need an environment where educators are allowed to try new things and sometimes make mistakes--while learning from them.

2. How can we provide appropriate training for teachers who are at different stages in their development to be digitally minded Educators? Teachers need to be encouraged to recognize where they are with digital competencies, and feel empowered and given opportunities to learn from their peers and even their students. One successful model is blended learning that involves communities of practice where teachers interact both online and offline. In my own work as a teacher trainer in Malaysia, I saw teachers who had never turned on a computer before feel empowered to use technology in their lessons only after about a year of working in the same cohort of learners. They felt comfortable enough with each other, and their trainer, to communicate where they needed to improve and seek help acquiring those skills. The same with how we differentiate in the classroom, we can differentiate teacher education by building relationships, and creating a safe space for self-awareness and growth.

3. From the myriad of training providers how do you choose one and how much training can be provided internally within your organisation? My organization is somewhat a training provider. Institutions choose to work with us when they believe in open education and want to become part of a community that believes that the sum of all knowledge should be free and accessible to everyone in the world. Our program leaders are volunteers, and they give freely of their time to institutions because they believe that Wikimedia projects belong in education. When students contribute to Wikimedia projects, they gain valuable 21st century skills, teachers gain digital competencies as well, and all of the stakeholders are contributing to the mission of the Wikimedia movement.

4. How do you gauge within your organisation what infrastructure and training will support your goals and how far ahead should we be looking? How do you make decisions around platforms etc.

Right now, this is done at the local level in partnership with our program leaders and the institutions that work with them. When educators come to us interested in using Wikimedia projects as learning tools, we find local volunteers who are interested and experienced in working with educators, and work with them to find out what kind of support they need. For example, in Argentina, the local Wikimedia chapter developed a MOOC about using Wikimedia projects in the classroom for educators. That MOOC was very successful and is now being scaled regionally. In Nepal, where educators need more direct support, our volunteers implemented a two step training process, where they trained both teachers and students on how to contribute to Wikimedia projects over two semesters. This semester, teachers are using Wikimedia projects to support classroom learning on their own, with evaluation support from the volunteers.

However, this localized support is difficult to scale. At the foundation, we have this year initiated a strategy process to inform our priorities for the next 15 years. This strategy process involved a myriad of stakeholders and resulted in a new strategic direction that, for education programs, means thinking about how we can scale the use of Wikimedia projects in classroom settings. This means more strategic partnerships, more scalable support, perhaps through WMF supported teacher certification as “Wikimedia Certified Educators.” We are in the early stages of thinking through this new strategic direction, but are excited for what the future holds.

5. How do you retain teachers so they keep contributing to your community and not someone else's? (making such a big investment - not having to go back to the beginning). Retaining teachers is extremely important to our work and the mission of our movement. When teachers have their students contribute to Wikimedia projects semester after semester valuable content is being added to Wikipedia and its sister projects (like Wikimedia Commons for example). Retaining teachers is easy when they realize the value of having their students contribute to Wikimedia projects. When students edit Wikipedia they learn vital 21st century skills including information literacy, digital citizenship, writing skills, and many more. They also find Wiki assignments more motivating than traditional assignments. We know that a new vital digital competency is student content creation. Wiki assignments hit so many targets, many of them moving and evolving targets, that when teachers understand this, they keep coming back to our community. They become Wikimedians, and the world benefits from their and their students contributions.