“If only I could tell you that the tablets are the long awaited miracle that all educators have been expecting that would cure all the ailments in education. Sorry to disappoint you but this is not the case. For sure the tablet will be an asset in the teacher’s arsenal and a very important tool that can engage and motivate both teacher and learner, but the most important element in the classroom will always be the interaction and communication between learners and teachers. I put here a special emphasis on teacher to whom we entrust our most special treasures, even if it is for a short period of time which we call school hours.
The easiest way to honour an electoral campaign promise would have been for the Government to dish out a sum of money out of our tax coffer, buy the cheapest set of tablets on the market and distribute them to school. This would have been a disaster as described by projects in other countries where millions of dollars were pushed down a drain and the projects declared a failure. A tablet project without proper teacher training, preparation and support would end up as a toy without any educational value to distract our learners.
Skipping and disregarding proper teacher training is tantamount to burning money. The tablet would have been ignored in the most important times during class because teachers would not know when, how and why to use it. I am not referring to which button to press and the technical staff that comes with the tablet, which is not much, but to the ability to reach a teaching objective by the proper use of technology. This includes helping the learner to sift through the content that is found on the Web, looking for the right resources, deciding on the value of the information, how to use and interpret the content, make it their own and then use it in their work, being safe while surfing and so on. So we invested heavily in teacher training which is never enough and will continue in the coming years because we believe that without a properly trained teacher, we would be just adding another sparkling gadget in the child’s hands and nothing else.”
This is part of an email I sent to one worried mother who wrote to me about her concerns over the tablets for year 4 students. I emphasised the importance of teacher training because I believe that this is truly the answer to the project’s success.
Tomorrow, 5th September, 25 specialised teachers will take part in a train-the-trainer course. May I express my appreciation and gratitude to these teachers. They have prepared well for this day with a set of lesson ideas that will be distributed to all teachers during the in-service training which will commence on the 16th of September. I am also sure and confident that they will continue to grow as a community of learners and will contribute to tomorrow’s training through their collective and individual experiences in the classroom.
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