- Rebecca Winkles
Technology is ingrained in our culture in so many forms that it is second nature to us. It’s hard to imagine that there are places in the world that not only don't have that same exposure to technology, but also aren't aware of the fact that it exists. Two years ago, I was given the opportunity to join a team traveling to Uganda with the goal of bringing laptops to FODU partner schools and introducing their children and teachers to technology that could change how and what they learn in and outside of classrooms. It was an ambitious goal and we knew there would be many challenges that could prevent the teachers and students from utilizing the laptops as much as they'd like to. Preparations were made months in advance by the FODU staff and volunteers leading the technology training initiative so when the day finally came, excitement and eagerness shown on the faces of all those involved.
The first few days of working with students and staff presented more challenges than we were initially anticipating and we quickly learned we needed to scale back some of the things that we had planned to share. They needed more time, more experience and a basic understanding of how to navigate a computer before we could dive into everything that can be done using a computer and having access to the internet.
Two years later, I'm so excited to see the progress each and every school has made. The teachers are leaps and bounds ahead of where they were on those first days and the students have adopted the technology with ease and are so eager to learn more. This trip we were able to show so much more of what can be done using the laptops in classrooms and how the teachers can use lesson plans and presentations they create year after year. Until now, some of these teachers are unable to show and explain things such as the human heart or parts of a flower unless they hand draw it on a chalkboard or on a poster board to hang in a classroom. Now they can do a simple search for such things and display many different images with more detail and precision. They have access to boundless information that gives them the ability to search for answers to questions they may have not known before. Seeing the realization in their eyes when they discover the possibilities and begin to think through how they can use the technology in their classrooms every day and every year is a powerful thing.
I'm greatly encouraged this trip to see how much time and effort the teachers have obviously put into learning and working with the computers to become more comfortable and knowledgeable. The desire to learn is apparent and there is no lack of willingness to put in the time. It’s obvious that the technology training initiative will continue to be a success despite the challenges of intermittent electricity and limited internet connectivity. The students and teachers are not only so appreciative of what has been shared with them, but they are dedicated to putting it all to good use to better the education of their students.
There is still so much work to be done and so many new things that we haven't even scratched the surface of, but to know that even the little bit of information these teachers have been given is put to use, gives all the inspiration a person needs to push forward and contribute little by little.