Colombo: 26 mar: Two Sri Lankan Teachers received international recognition when they were selected to participate in the ‘Microsoft in Education Global Forum 2014’, held in Barcelona, Spain from March 11 to 14.
Shiroma Weerathunga from Presidents College, Ambilipitiya and Champa Rathnayaka from Kandy Model School were picked from 23,000 teachers worldwide for their innovative and effective use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the classroom.
This year’s Forum recognized and celebrated innovation in education and working together to transform education for the 21st century. It was attended by 150 Government Education Leaders, 260 Educators representing the Expert Educator program and 300 School Leaders from the most innovative schools around the globe across nearly 100 countries.
The two teachers had enrolled their schools in the Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators Program, conducted locally by Microsoft Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Ministry of Education earlier this year. The program, which stressed on the productive use of ICT in the classroom, required applicants to submit a lesson plan designed with the use of ICT, along with a link to a YouTube video on the lesson experience and pictures or videos providing learning evidence. The lesson plans submitted had to be either within the age range of 6 -18 years or 1-13.
“The commitment shown by the Ministry of Education in supporting teachers to obtain 21st century teaching skills, and the enthusiasm shown by our local teachers to embrace innovation has been very encouraging. That is what spurs us on to ensure that our company vision is in tandem with that of the Government, in creating an IT savvy future generation for Sri Lanka,” says Yashinka Jayasinghe Alles, Education Programmes Manager for Microsoft Sri Lanka.
Evaluation criteria included lesson planning, designing, collaboration, knowledge construction, extended learning beyond the classroom, and cutting edge use of ICT and the role of the teacher as an innovator. Two hundred and sixty teachers were selected from around the Globe, including the two local Teachers.
Shiroma Weerathunga, from Presidents College, Ambilipitiya who teaches ICT, submitted her lesson plan for grade 6 students on the water cycle. She says that even though Sri Lanka lacked ICT facilities as a country in its education system, innovation and guidance could direct students to use ICT in learning and studying beyond the class room, especially since most of them own personal computers at home. She added, “the time has come to drop the black board and the piece of chalk and embrace the mouse and the keyboard”.
IT teacher, Champa Rathnayaka innovatively combined her lesson plan with IT, General Science and English. She says, “ICT could vastly contribute to empower students and discover their real potential across a wide range, without limiting them to just a few subjects.”
The Global Forum, which also recognized the best of worldwide innovative teaching and learning thanks to meaningful uses of technology, provided participants the opportunity to collaborate and network with other expert educators around the world whilst recognizing and awarding the most innovative educators and school leaders. Alongside Keynotes and panel discussions with world renowned education experts, innovators, and partners, the participants were exposed to Innovative use of cutting edge technologies for learning, which in turn inspired professional development.
Both Shiroma Weerathunga and Champa Rathnayaka who had the one of a kind experience of participating in the Global Forum 2014 said that they are looking forward to train 300 teachers in Sri Lanka to use ICT effectively in the classroom. The project action plans, which were submitted to the Department of Education last year, are now approved for carrying out. The teacher-training project, which will be set in motion by the Ministry of education in collaboration with Microsoft Sri Lanka, is scheduled to commence in April this year.
“The support extended by Microsoft by providing productive ICT tools to uplift efficient use of ICT in the class room has been commendable. Organizing competitions and events such as this invariably contribute to inspire teachers to use new ways in teaching,” says Ms. Champa Rathnayaka.
The Global forum also holds a monthly webinar with all the teachers worldwide who were selected to participate at the Global Forum providing valuable inputs in terms of sharing learning experiences across their countries. The webinars also allow new learning methods, tools and systems to be shared, creating global partnerships to push conventional boundaries in education, which would pave the way to transform education for the 21st century.
“The learning experience from the Global Forum 2014 is a life time opportunity. Apart from exposing us to global trends of using ICT in the class room it helped us to set goals for Sri Lanka in guiding our students to use ICT as an integral part of their school curriculum,” say the now world class Lankan teachers.