donderdag 20 oktober 2011

Technology rules!

Yesterday I had an interesting hands-on experience with technology in education, which I would like to share. I was engaged in a lecture in which technology was the leading factor.
For the minor Sustainable Development in Developing Countries at the University of Twente I am the student assistant. The minor-students have to work in groups, like a consultancy company, to write a proposal on the topic of waste management and livelihood improvement in Kisumu, Kenya. For us, living in the Western world, it is difficult to gain an impression of the conditions in Kenya without going there and seeing everything by ourselves. And there is also not a lot of information available about the current waste disposal system.

And that is where technology comes in!

A Skype conversation was organized with three people from Kisumu who are engaged in the waste management system there. The students had prepared questions and divided roles: who was going to ask the questions and who was going to take notes. The students were really excited and enthusiastic to talk with someone from Kisumu who could give them more information for their proposal. The people from Kisumu were also very enthusiastic to give the interview. In the end the students had really collected a lot of useful information for their final proposal.

I think this is a very good example of how technology can bring useful opportunities for education. Even though it was a bit complicated since you have to make appointments with people from a total different culture. At the beginning we were wondering if they would be online and if the skype connection would be good. Another example is that we discovered that one of the Kenyan persons did not have Skype, that is why a small group of students sat somewhere else where they could contact him by telephone.

But what can I say about the combination of Technology, Pedagogy and Content in this lecture?
I think the pedagogy that has been used in this lecture can be best characterized as collaborative learning since they had roles divided among the students and they had to work together to make it work. Next to working together with other students they off course also had to work with the people from Kenya at the other side of the Skype connection. I think the technology used was very flexible since when we found out that one Kenyan person did not have Skype, we called him by telephone.  The content of this lecture was the waste disposal system in Kisumu. The people from Kenya  off course know a lot about this system. But since the students had already read a lot about this as well they also knew enough to keep the conversation running.

In this case I think the technology, pedagogy and content are mixed together very well. So I think this is a good example of how technology can have a great value for education. Next time I will write more in detail about combining Technology, Pedagogy and Content… 

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