The “I” in ISTE: Our Collaboration with Kenyatta University through the HP Catalyst Initiative

Posted by Leslie S. Conery, ISTE Deputy CEO

You can’t open a newspaper or listen to the news without hearing about the global economy or the globalization of our society. In fact, while we typically refer to ISTE by its acronym, it is important to remember that the first word in the name of our association is “International,” and, increasingly, our reach as the premier ed-tech association is global–both in terms of membership support and advocacy. 

One important and exciting way that we have expanded our global reach is through our support for the HP Catalyst Initiative, a worldwide program to build a network of educators interested in exploring innovative approaches to STEM education. ISTE provides professional development to the institutions participating in this global initiative, which combines technology with expertise to empower great teaching and create transformational learning experiences for students. A key piece of our support is working with HP to host the annual grantee summit, which was held in April in Beijing, where we were joined by more than 130 educators from 15 countries.

I wish you could have been there with us to learn how much these educators from geographically and culturally diverse parts of the world have in common, both in terms of the challenges they face effectively integrating technology into teaching and learning, particularly in the STEM subjects, and the successes they realize through this global network.

Oh wait, I can take you there through the power of technology! So in my next few blog posts, I am going to take you around the world–online–and show you a birds’-eye view of the ways that education communities are leveraging the power of technology to transform teaching and learning to prepare students for success in our 21st century global society.

Our first visit is to Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya. When it became an HP Catalyst Initiative project site in 2010, math and science educators were teaching without the benefit of modern resources, such as current, adequate textbooks. The goal was to prepare teachers to be 21st century educators capable of integrating technology into teaching and learning across the math and science curriculum. Today, through the support of the HP Catalyst Initiative, nearly 300 Kenyan math and science preservice teachers have discovered how to bring learning alive for students, with science probe kits, graphing calculators, internet-based tools and other technology resources.

 

The Kenyatta University program, led by Marguerite Miheso-O’Connor, has far exceeded expectations. She attributes the program’s success to perseverance, creativity and collaboration. “We have more participants than anticipated by project, so we are staggering the workshops to accommodate all.Improvisation has helped achieve some objectives, and teachers’ enthusiasm has become the driving force for successful implementation.”

Another creative approach has been leveraging the power of mobile technology for the workshops, rather than relying on face-to-face meetings. As Marguerite said, “We can now use mobile technology to support learners instead of waiting for computers. Learn more about this project from the voices of educators in students in this video.

Like the other HP Catalyst Initiatives around the world, Kenyatta University also attributes its success to collaboration on the local, nation, and international levels. Kenyatta University math and science educators are collaborating with their colleagues from the departments of math and science at their own school as well as educators from Syracuse University, California State University–Fullerton, and California State University–San Marcos. In addition, they are working with the Kenyan National Institute for Curriculum Development to disseminate their e-learning resources throughout the country, and Kenya’s Minister of Education is looking at their project as a model for educational technology policy for the nation.

Less than two years into the initiative, the teachers who participated in the training–many of whom arrived with little knowledge or experience with modern technology–are developing lesson plans for their students that integrate technology and support teaching the STEM subjects. And students are already reaping benefits that go beyond simply learning with technology. They are participating in inquiry-based learning, conducting internet research and collaborating as they learn.

Best of all, like their peers around the world at other HP Catalyst Initiative projects, they are discovering a new motivation for and engagement in learning.

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