learning landscapes in southern africa

Presentation

The computer in the classroom (O computador dentro da sala de aulas).

Kitty den Boogert and Xavier Muianga, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique
 
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O computador na sala de aula-WebQuests

From October 2005-January 2006, the Faculty of Education of the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique has carried out a pilot project in two secondary schools. The main activity of the project has been to support teachers how to use the computer in the classroom, complementary to the tasks they are normally doing. ICT used as a resource for learning and not as a mere typing machine or an administrative tool. Teachers in Mathematics and Portuguese, using the internationally known template of "WebQuests", have developed and tested some exemplary lessons for grade 11. In 5 steps -- introduction, task, process, conclusion and evaluation -, students were encouraged to explore the Internet.

The project demonstrated that for teachers, the use of the computer together with a new way of teaching was a challenging, but certainly not an easy job to do. There were not many ‘intrinsic’ obstacles for the teachers to change their traditional teaching strategies, but they simply had no experience with student-centered ways of learning. During the project they discovered how to plan tasks for active learning and how to select websites that stimulate learners to investigate a topic at a deeper level than before. Students were extremely motivated to come into contact with the bigger outside world through Internet, having access to a big reservoir of resources in all possible areas. They liked the group-work and the problem solving tasks they had to carry out ‘independently’. Policy makers and school leaders were convinced that developing countries have to catch up with the digital divide. It is a necessity to introduce more advanced electronic tools (all over the country and not only in the cities), even if there is a lack of the most basic tools like chalk and pencil (in rural areas), paper and books.

In the project the teachers developed some lessons on Internet and on a CD-rom for schools that have no Internet connection. There is also a manual with instruction, formats and more examples how to design WeBQuests. The project learned that, apart from technical and financial conditions, it are precisely the didactical skills that are decisive whether the computer will stay (unused) on the desk of the school leader or whether it enters the classroom in the hands of students and teachers.