Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsWe all have problems using technology, no matter where we are and what resources we have The internet disappears, the app won’t load, the screen won’t project But in under resourced environments, these problems multiply. The biggest amongst these can be access to the internet. But even with this one there are solutions Tabshoura is a project of an online platform aligned with the Lebanese curriculum which objective is to support children in their learning in an innovative way We work a lot with vulnerable community in a remote area and this is why along with the pedagogical content of Tabshoura And you don’t need access to the internet – computers or tablets connect to the learning materials on an offline server So, the box is a pocket-sized server it’s a tiny server, it produces its own hotspot All our content is uploaded on a micro SD card so micro SD card is in the box and so a computer lab a whole 15 meter square room with 30 up to 40 devices can connect to the box, connect to our library of content and use them Solving the technology challenge is not just about the infrastructure Even when technology is available, teachers can find it difficult to use it well But this is a problem that can be overcome as Diana Zeineldine, a technology specialist explains In order to deal with the difficulties we face with teachers there is a very important phrase we learnt at university that we try to apply in all the workshops
Skip to 1 minute and 48 secondswhich is: La technologie vient au service de la pédagogie The main idea is the pedagogy The technology is not the main goal and the proof of that is when we conduct workshops our aim is not to use just any tool or just any website What is important is that it matches our goals and we always instruct the teachers to have a plan B and C and D Especially with technology because with technology, everything that we planned for could change in a second So not everything is lost if you have a technical glitch you still have the underlying pedagogy because you also have your back-up solution There is no question in some circumstances, trying to use technology requires a lot more work, but sometimes it’s worth it As for laptops, there is only one in the entire school So, I have to look when it is available, so I can get my hands on some photos or so I can go online everything takes twice the effort for us So, I want to go home, I want to access the net from my phone, I want to search for new ideas, I want to do something new Sometimes there is a dynamic activity, on youtube for example, which I would like to follow So, I had to make more of an effort than the students And Ghada a teacher trainer, wants to dispel the myth that technology is only for the young I know a teacher that has been teaching for more than 15 years Since we started our talk about the subject of technology and the training of teachers and all these statements people said that this teacher is already muddled by her family and her kids and that she is living too far from Beirut to be able to attend training So people would say why should one bother and trouble himself This teacher decided that she would like to get this experience of using technology if if this matter could help her to teach better and enhances her educational performance She has already been trained for a long time and after that, without having been asked to do so, she is now a leader in the training of others She even made a group on WhatsApp, by herself without a request from someone This teacher spent the summer preparing short videos, I mean short videos for her colleagues about different tools of technology to start from the smallest ones Such as how to open an email, how to work on a drive, and advanced tools These videos are short but when she finishes each video, she uploads it to the WhatsApp group to reach all colleague teachers in the school So technology is not only for the young We can all overcome the obstacles if we try and trying something out is the first step Everyone can do it
Finding solutions to technological challenges
In the video, teachers talk about the challenges of using technology as well as the solutions to problems that they have found. We recommend selecting the English subtitles at the bottom of the screen, as the video contains both English and Arabic.
Even though we may be enthusiastic about technology, it is not a good idea to pretend there are no problems with it. Only by facing up to the problems, can we hope to find solutions. So in this step, we will try to identify the problems and maybe we can go some way to solving them together?
Different kinds of challenges
There are different types of challenges you might encounter when engaging with teachnology :
- personal knowledge and skills,
- leadership and organisational issues.
The technical problems are ever present: technology does not always work. In fact, you can almost guarantee it to fail at the most inconvenient time! For teachers working in low resourced schools, access to equipment, broadband internet and even power can be a problem.
Some of the educators we have encountered already have had technical solutions, however. Some think ahead with alternative plans in case things do not work. Some are using technology that does not require an internet connection. For example, the Tabshoura box that Nayla demonstrated does not need an internet connection, because all the resources are loaded onto the box, and to access them the students connect to the box, rather than an online website.
And solar energy could also be useful if power is a problem. Many people have ‘work arounds’ to deal with technological failings. Perhaps we could learn from each other what the best tips are?
Problems with personal knowledge and skills are also widespread. Many people are anxious about using technology because they feel they do not know enough. Added to this, many people think (wrongly!) that young people can use technology without any issues, and older people inevitably struggle. This not the case - for the young, or old. This is a fairly straightforward problem to solve. By participating in Transforming Education in Challenging Environments, you are already learning what it is like to learn through technology, and this is the most valuable knowledge you can have when beginning to design digital learning experiences for your own classes.
It is also worth remembering that there is one characteristic that marks out someone who is good at using technology - a willingness to try things out. This means simply clicking on a button to find out what happens, or having a go at a tool someone recommended. Just being ready try things out will give you most of the technological knowledge that the ‘experts’ seem to possess. And you can use your own experience as a guide - if you cannot use something easily, the chances are that your learners will struggle. Trust your own experience to choose which tools will work for you.
Even if teachers are willing to try, school leadership and organisation can be slow to encourage or take risks with technology. This often means that teachers are forced to invest their own tools when it would be simpler if the whole school provided solutions. Sometimes the school may have invested in technology, but it is the wrong sort and so stifles the teachers’ attempts to engage.
It is challenging to solve these problems, but the more knowledge that teachers have, the better able they will be to press for institutional solutions to this problem.
On this Finding Solutions to Technological Challenges Padlet you will find three columns for the types of challenges we face: technical, personal, organisational.
Under each column add a specific instance of a challenge you face relevant to that category. Then look at other people’s posts, and reply with a potential solution they could try.
Over to you
Reflect on the challenges you have faced and those that other participants have posed on the Padlet. What are the most difficult obstacles for teachers trying to use more digital methods? Have you found any useful solutions (either from the Padlet or from your own experience) that you can share with other teachers about how to overcome difficulties?