Technology has the potential to create exponential improvements to learning outcomes in the developing world. The problem is that many efforts to utilize computers, cell-phones or open-source software to improve education primarily focus on the technology itself and forget about one of the most important pieces of the educational puzzle, the teacher. Recently, Edify hosted its first computer training for teachers and school proprietors at low-cost, private schools in the Dominican Republic. The training was held at Centro Educativo Gomez school and the training was provided by Edify’s local training partner Aprendi.
The purpose of the four-hour training was to build a foundation for the educators’ understanding of how computers may be used to benefit learning and creativity in the classroom, as well as give them some of the basic skill-sets for operating a computer. Growing up in the United States, it was assumed that I would learn to comfortably use a computer and the Internet and all of my teachers had certainly been trained in the use of computers in education. However, in the Dominican Republic, the majority of teachers aren’t comfortable with computers nor are computers integrated into the classroom. The training that we provided to 11 teachers and 3 school directors was, in the words of the trainer, “A little caramel to wet the appetite.” It was a taste of the creativity and potential that computers can offer students when used correctly, it was a chance to break the ice for those who feared the thought of using a computer in the classroom.
It was clear that a four-hour training session wasn’t going to transform the way these teachers teach nor make them proficient on a computer, but it was a delicious appetizer for the main course to come. Each of the teachers were challenged to enroll in free computer literacy and training courses that have been made available to them with topics ranging from how to use a mouse and a keyboard to advanced courses in Microsoft Excel. This is just the tip of the technology iceberg for many of the low-cost schools that we partner with, and of the depth of technology resources that Edify will provide.