24 May Intern’s Corner – Elizabeth Warner-Rousseau
By: Elizabeth Warner-Rousseau, Boston College.
As the world changes and becomes increasingly driven by technological advances, it is necessary that students and teachers keep up with the new demands. Seeds for Progress, through its Digital Seeds project, provides technology to rural classrooms that are often forgotten by other education initiatives so that every student has the opportunity to learn necessary computer skills. Seeds for Progress does not merely offer distribution of resources, however, but also provides a dedicated and knowledgeable facilitator at each school to provide training to the classroom teachers. Many technology education initiatives do not adequately address the need to train teachers to effectively implement the new resources into their teaching, and results are poor where technology is thrown into a classroom without such planning and deliberation. Seeds for Progress’ approach ensures that teachers become comfortable with the technology and are better able to integrate it into their lessons.
The necessity for the integration of technology and education is especially compelling in rural classrooms, given that without computers and Internet connection in these more isolated areas, access to different types of information is greatly limited. With increased access to modern technology, the gap in ability to obtain knowledge is partially bridged. New possibilities for collaboration emerge, not just within one classroom but also across the region, nation, or world. This kind of access has historically been limited in rural regions, such as the coffee plantation regions in Nicaragua, but with the advent of technology, these disparities can be alleviated.
Digital Seeds supports classrooms in obtaining resources such as XO laptops for the students, which have applications that aid math, reading, and writing abilities through exciting exercises that make learning more enjoyable and novel for them. Additionally, 80% of the teachers now have access to their own laptops, provided by Seeds for Progress funding. These laptops are also endowed with software programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, tools that can be used to improve the quality of teaching and quality of content produced by the students. Teachers are encouraged to investigate learning resources on the web that could be tailored to the specific needs of their students. The goal of the program is to stimulate interest in learning through technology, while also preparing students with important technological skills. Teachers and students alike are empowered to explore and adapt the technologies to their own teaching and learning objectives.