ICT4Champions is a Google group concerned with the use of web 2.0 in South African schools. Today Maggie Verster, founder of the group, lead a workshop on blogging in the classroom. It was attended by 10 educators, all from private schools, who were shown how to create and customise a class blog using Edublogs. I attended to meet Maggie and the others in the group and to pick their brains on the state of Web 2.0 in our schools. The bottom line: basic use of ICTs, let alone for connected, creative, collaborative web 2.0 activities, is limited and problematic in South African schools. According to the attendees of the workshop, reasons for this include:
- Lack of physical infrastructure: PCs, printers, etc.
- No or slow connectivity, due to the prohibitively high cost of bandwidth.
- Lack of support from school principals and management.
- Lack of ICT literacy of educators.
- Educators’ fear that their learners know more than they do about technology (which they usually do).
- Time pressure on educators to work through the curriculum, leaving no time to learn how to blog and get blogging with their learners. Educators simply don’t have enough time in the day.
- Overworked educators who resist taking on “just another thing.”
The attendees asked for:
- More workshops such as this one. They appreciate practical “starter” lessons from someone who’s done research and knows which software, technologies and sites to use.
- Educator guides for referencing and citing content.
Compared to public schools, private schools usually have fairly good ICT facilities, supportive management and a willingness to send educators on training courses. Right now in private and public schools there are champion educators and principals who implement web 2.0 in their classrooms. Their learners blog, create digital stories and participate in social networks. The educators themselves are active members of communities of practice, such as the Maths Literacy one in South Africa. But these cases are very very very rare. There is much work to be done to change this!
Image by Maggie Verster