At the Jokaydia Unconference in late September, Konrad introduced a fantasic exhibition of photography and textures as part of the two day teaching and learning conference.
Teachers Without Borders – Canada is a non-profit, non-denominational NGO devoted to closing the education divide through teacher professional development and community education. TWB organization focuses on the building of teacher leaders.
They work primarily, but not exclusively, in developing countries, in order to build self-reliance, health, and capacity.
Konrad talked about how TWB is trying to develop sustainable teacher professional development, using connections waith global education, finding teacher leaders and building capacity.
Teams 5-10 teachers – conduct workshops and seminars in Kenya, which has poor access to computers and internet. So communicating with teachers is usually via internet cafes. TWB sees connection as a major goal in Kenya and are working with over 60 teachers in 2 townships in South Africa – to get them more connected to communities of practice. He spoke about how TWB have formed partnerships – with local organisations, government and commercial sector – to respond to local needs identified by local organisations
This work is based on the needs assessment to plan, design and deliver workshops but TWB does not work with students, apart from observation. His Second Life build give opportunities experience Kenyan classrooms that can’t be achieved in 2D media like FlickR. The exhibit was designed to give an experience of what a classroom looks like and feels like.
The build includes textures from walls and the envronment, together with a very graphic photo exhibition to explore. It gives a graphic idea of how Kenya’s elementary classes might have 140 students to 1 teacher or secondary with 60/70 kids. The tin roof is scortching hot, and classrooms rarely have anyhing on the walls. Paper based resources such as maps and charts are too expensive for the schools to buy, so most classrooms are hot, crowded – but enthusiastic. In the photo above – there are several nations represented from tertiary, secondary and primary – all sharing ideas on how a build like this could benefit students in learning about Kenya and the massive issues they face in education.
Second Life is adds a new dimention to presenting, what is essentially a photostory. The ability to create a school in proportion, use authentic textures, and recreate details, such as the blackboard – which is not a board, mearly that the wall is painted black, due to costs made the discussion with TWB in the space an air of reality, that I don’t think would be as impactful as a slideshow. Avatars were free to wander the compound and get a feel for the spaces and issues that TWB were talking about.
The TBW website says that At 59 million, teachers are the largest single group of trained professionals in the world AND the key to our children’s future. Equally amazing is the estimated need for more than 30 million NEW teachers to achieve the goal of the U.N.’s “Education for All” initiative by 2015. The issues are complicated by the number of children who do not go to school at all – 104 million, 50% of who live in countries touched by conflict.
Konrad is an amazing educator, and I am looking forward to woking with him and Jokay in the next year in researching and developing sustainable projects using Second Life. At a time when teachers ‘want more’ else have lots but don’t maximise the opportunties – I think that projects like this make a very powerful statement about the growing digital divide. For more information, check out the TWB global site.