Over the last three years Harare International School has invested heavily in the technological infrastructure within the school. With a 1-1 iPad initiative in the Elementary school, Apple TVs and projectors throughout the campus along with a 1-1 MacBook laptop roll out for grades 9 to 12 and all MYP and DP teachers, we have a wide range of hardware and software at our fingertips. Just as importantly, the broadband speeds have increased rapidly. These developments have opened up an incredible array of opportunities, which have already started impacting the student teacher relationship.

Projects have been enriched with students being able to talk to leading experts from around the world live on Skype, collaborate using Google Docs on their devices, interview colleagues through iMovie, create media rich blogs and so much more.

We have only touched the tip of the iceberg and through the coming year we will be working closely with the HIS teachers and students to harness the incredible resources we now have available.

Just as importantly we will also be putting in place a holistic strategy for student IT literacy from EC1 all the way through to Grade 12. Thus ensuring they have the necessary skills and exposure to technology.

Each Elementary School (ES) teacher has an iPad, Apple TV and HD projector. Throughout the week they also have access to a fully equipped Mac lab and share 126 iPads that can be brought to the classroom as and when needed.

One of the biggest transitions this year has been to create unique Google accounts for students from Grade 2 upwards. This has opened up access to the Google doc suite that enables them to work collaboratively, in real time, and access / save their work irrespective of the device they are using. Each year group has made use of this in unique ways.

Grade 2 have been using, ‘My Places,’ with Google Maps. This is where students can use their Gmail account to create their own map and insert customized pins. Second grade used this resource for ‘Our School Community,’ to label Harare International School. Their Google account saves their work and allows them to access their maps at home, or at school…at any time…on any device. Grade 3 French classes have also made use of this technology to start creating a route map from home to school and labeling it in French.

In Grade 5 they are making use of the collaborative features of Google docs using the ‘Presentation’ application to simultaneously work on joint projects. They have also been looking at other online applications like ‘Powtoons’ to present their projects through a variety of media channels.

The projects are becoming progressively diverse and complex and we are finding the next generation is increasingly IT literate and capable of more than we imagined. It’s important to lay a solid foundation with the ES and as the teachers continue to grow in confidence, with the rapidly changing technology, we are excited with what the students will be engaged in the coming months.

Middle school has a 1-1 iPad programe that opens a vast range of possibilities. Teachers are increasingly moving their material online and enabling students to view videos, blogs and other material outside the physical classroom. This means that when they attend class the teacher can focus on helping them apply what they have learned rather than using valuable time teaching theory.

One of the many exciting projects made use of Twitter in conjunction with Blogging. This allowed students to take on respective characters creating profiles on their group blogs and having their character twitter feeds embedded within the blog site. As a result,  students were are able to collaborate with colleagues outside their own class, taking on the persona of their newly created characters. Students were hugely excited, motivated, and engaged in the project.

Another teacher has had the students create blogs for their classes, which not only allows them to collaborate 24/7, but ensures they will leave their own educational legacy that future students can build upon.

High School teachers are taking the opportunity, wherever possible, to flip their classrooms as the opportunity to take advantage of a technology increases. For example, one teacher is providing online tutorials for her IB Film students. Once they have viewed their individualized tutorials, at their own pace, they use the screen capture facility in QuickTime to create their own videos on the concepts /skills learned, and then their peers review and comment for assessment. Each student has also set up a blog, where they complete some of their assignments and have the chance to comment on each other’s portfolios.

High school music is also taking increasing advantage of the available IT resources. They are recording music they have composed, upload it to their class blog, and comment on their work. This not only enables them to access their work 24/7, but provides an electronic portfolio that shows their progression over time.

For electronic portfolios some teachers have given their students the freedom to choose whatever platform they feel most comfortable with. This has enabled them to express themselves using the vast array of online tools from Edublog to Google Docs. It also means, once they graduate, they will be able to take their work with them, building upon the portfolio at University and beyond.