Narrowing the Technological Divide
Sharing the College’s excellent teaching strategies for student success, MDC Professors Nathalie Cajuste and Rebecca Sánchez traveled to Haiti in July and spent two weeks strengthening the nation’s education system by training teachers and administrators in the use of 21st century computer technology. Ten schools participated in the initiative made possible by an MDC partnership with World Vision, a nonprofit organization that helps strengthen and develop strong children, families and communities.
Taking a modified, intense version of a longer MDC course called “Introduction to Educational Technology,” the local teachers and administrators mastered a wide range of skills from surfing the Internet for supplementary materials for their classes and using PowerPoint for lectures to engaging students in other cities and countries using Skype. Course participants also learned about and discussed international teaching standards and establishing acceptable-use Internet policies for their students.
Entering New Frontiers
“Of the 23 teachers who attended, most didn’t have an email account when they began the course, so they didn’t know how useful this technological tool can be in the classroom,” said Cajuste. “We taught them how they can communicate with their students remotely and also connect to the rest of the world.”
Cajuste and Sánchez were impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of the Haitian teachers and administrators. With the limited transportation options in the region, many walked for miles to attend the class so that they could learn how to help their students excel through the use of new technology.
Helping to bridge the technological divide, Cajuste and Sánchez took an initial preparatory trip to the area before they taught the course in order to determine the resources needed. To facilitate communication, the MDC professors also taught in both French and Creole to ensure that each participant would receive customized, individualized attention.
The World at Their Fingertips
“Being a part of this was life-transforming for us all,” said Sánchez. “These teachers really appreciated all the new resources they now have at their fingertips.”
After the course, the teachers not only felt more technologically adept in the classroom but also more connected to their counterparts in the U.S. and abroad.
“Through this partnership and the Internet, we feel much more connected as global citizens of the world,” one of the teachers said.