Return to Senegal: Success with Digital Learning and the Potential for Scale

Author: Jim Teicher, CEO and Director of CyberSmart Africa

The CyberSmart Africa team returned to Potou Elementary school in Senegal six weeks after a professional development workshop was held to reinforce whole-class digital learning using a specially adapted interactive whiteboard that can also operate in schools without electricity. We were at the school to observe teachers delivering technology-integrated lessons in reading and math at the kindergarten and first grade levels.

Potou Elementary School (Senegal)

Potou Elementary School (Senegal)

I’m pleased to report that at least half of the instructional staff of eight teachers are facilitating technology-integrated lessons at least twice a week.

The technology is working well. Most other school ICT initiatives are plagued by challenges associated with issues relating to maintaining computer networks and connectivity. Instead, our approach is to minimize equipment and rely on locally-stored software for everyday learning content. For example, just one interactive whiteboard can quickly move between classrooms – and uses just one netbook computer to impact hundreds of students over the course of just a few hours.

Watch the Potou Elementary School Video Update.

The learning content is also working well; but it needs to be more comprehensive and more thoroughly aligned with lessons taught as part of the Senegalese national curriculum. We observed that teachers were able to select and use software from a broad collection we had given to them. Teachers were also able to create their own instructional content using the interactive whiteboard’s drawing and design tools.

 

Mrs. Diallo teachers her first grade class using the adapted interactive whiteboard in Potou, Senegal.

Mrs. Diallo teachers her first grade class using the adapted interactive whiteboard in Potou, Senegal.

The professional development we provided six weeks ago helped tremendously; and we are committed to have it become highly sustainable, ongoing, and scalable. The training also needs to continually reinforce learner-centered pedagogy where teachers lecture less and students participate more actively. To address this need we plan to build a collection of videos which model exemplary instruction, and to also provide ongoing support via social media.

We continue to make good progress at Potou Elementary School. The technology is regularly impacting large numbers of students with resources – such as interactive reading and math activities, maps, and virtual science content – that have never been previously available. This provides the school with a tremendous new classroom asset, which should be every learner’s right in our globalized world.

For more information contact Jim Teicher, CEO and Director of CyberSmart Africa at jim@cybersmart.org. Also watch my previous video documenting CyberSmart training at Potou Elementary school during February 2014.

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