TabLab Education utilizes technology to enhance pedagogical approaches that support creativity, Innovation and critical thinking in rural schools. The need for technology integration in teaching and learning cannot be overemphasized. I recently spent two weeks at Orkeeswa school in Monduli, Tanzania, sharing and training teachers and students on how to use Tablets for teaching and learning. Orkeeswa school is located deep in the Maasai village about 10Km from the nearest small Monduli town that has an interesting history that I will share another day. Along the numerous meandering paths to the school you will notice the tropical Savannah rich with diverse vegetation that colonizes the secluded and unused extensive areas around the school. Magnificent forest and hilly landscapes full of wild animals like elephants, hyenas and buffaloes overlook the school from a far. You would enjoy the view of this forest and escarpments from the school.
Orkeeswa school is eight years old with a population of 300 students with 53% girls and 47% boys. This is a day school and all students come from the nearby Maasai villages with some walking as far as 20km to get to school. It has 45 staff members who commute to and from the nearby Monduli town. The aim of the school is to impact the local area surrounding the school and the community. The strength of Orkeeswa is placed on extracurricular activities such as basketball, athletics and other clubs. While at the school, I worked with small groups of teachers and occasionally had one on one sessions with individual teachers. Students were also very eager to use the tablets and each day including weekend, I would have a session with a selected class. The dedication of teachers and students to attend TabLab sessions really encouraged me and I always looked forward to the next day at the school.
Orkeeswa school teachers at the emerging stage in ICT integration. This stage is linked to discovering ICT tools, and acquiring basic ICT literacy skills.
I introduced the ideas of integrating ICT to teaching and learning highlighting the key objective that using Tablets should add value to the learning process. This was followed by numerous sessions of teachers developing TabLab integrated lessons, activities and actual simulations of lessons by teachers. During these presentations, teachers would critic each other with the main aim of improving their lessons. At the beginning the teachers were just reproducing the way they always teach. After a number of sessions and discussions, other teachers started giving suggestions on how they would offer the same lesson differently. Towards the end of my two weeks with them, I started observing a few lessons whereby they planned activities on the TabLab that promoted students higher order thinking. They began valuing the appropriate teacher supported learning that is initiated and directed by the students.