Ninety teachers attend DigiKidz conference

POSTED: 04/6/16 6:12 PM

digikids conference

St. Maarten News – Approximate ninety educators from Seventh Day Adventist and both Hillside Schools, Asha Stevens and Helmich Snijders Campuses, came together last week Thursday for a day-long DigiKidz conference, organized by Foresee Foundation, the executor of the DigiKidz project in collaboration with the tech teams, management and school boards of all three schools.

The theme of the day was “the way forward” assisting schools in how to further develop the integration of ICT and Technology in its schools and classrooms.

After the welcome by Oralie Boirard, General Director of the Hillside Schools, addresses were given by the school board Executive Director for Hillside Asha Stevens and school board advisor Alvin Connor. They shared their vision and direction on how their schools were ready to move further, re-thinking the ICT vision on the role of technology for its schools, student and teachers, and making the right choices on educational and school administration software. Both school board representatives emphasized the importance of bringing St. Maarten’s education to the next level by fully integrating ICT and technology in the daily learning and teaching. They expressed their appreciation for the opportunities that were offered by Foresee Foundation, the external funders and donors, acknowledging that projects like these can only succeed with the additional full commitment and support of all stakeholders, including school boards, staff, parents and students.

Asha Stevens Christian School started in 2014 and was piloting the DigiKidz project. Afterward Seventh Day Adventist School became the second school after being selected to bring technology integrated education into St. Maarten classrooms. Funds for the ICT infrastructure and professional development were obtained through Windsong Foundation with Foresee Foundation as the project writer and management of this project.

Most recently Helmich Snijders Christian School joined the project. Through a great fundraising drive Foresee Foundation was able to raise local sponsoring from the St. Maarten service clubs, local business sector and the Hillside Christian school community.

After the opening words, Foresee Foundation board members, Alston Lourens and Peter Mazereeuw explained the current and future projects, explaining plans to start with DigiTeenz for secondary schools, organize the second Caribbean and Technology in Education conference for teachers later this year and expand the DigiKidz Media lab with a Makerslab where students, teachers and the general public can learn more about 3D printing, coding, robotics and other 21st century creative innovations.

José Sommers, President of Foresee Foundation, kicked off the conference sharing the ‘Four-in Balance model’, which helps schools with the successful implementation of ICT and Technology. She also presented the statistical results of two years DigiKidz@St. Maarten including information on educators’ and students’ opinions and 21st century technology skills.

Lavern Nelson, an educational technologist working at St. Maarten Academy went in-depth on the vision asking teachers to create, review and adjust the ICT vision statement for their schools.

In the next workshop Hillside teachers Angie Prince and Nancy Nouwen had their colleague educators designing ICT integrated lesson plans based on a model called T-PACK followed by team work where teachers made their top ten list of best educational software, websites and apps.

The day was closed off by Clara George, Vice Principal at Seventh Day Adventist, with a presentation on the use of QuickSchools, a school administration and student tracking software program.

During the conference several representatives of the St. Maarten Academy, Milton Peters College, the Catholic School board and the staff bureau of the Secretary General’s office of Education also joined the conference to learn more from the DigiKidz pilot schools.

The organizers were happy with the positive feedback they received from the participants. On a 1-10 scale, teachers rated the conference content and presentations with excellent 8.1, asking for more workshops and conferences like this one. One of the remarks of a teacher in her evaluation confirms the life-long learner need on professional development and the pros of collaboration: “A great day! I like the sharing of ideas and would like to see more of such integration of schools.”

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