“Poor internet connection” not good enough reason to abandon tech

AEC2016 – Day 3

One of the most wonderful parts of #AEC2016 has been just the sheer amount of African schools, countries, and nationalities represented at this conference. It’s not uncommon to find yourself at a table with a German speaker from Namibia, an American expat rat working in Nowheresville, Madagascar, and an English tech blogger who blogs from the traffic of Lagos, Nigeria.

Because of our shared African context, we all face some of the same challenges, and some would even say “barriers” to teaching our students. Talk of the “impossible” is nowhere more prevalent than in the area of Blended Learning. My Advanced Technology course on Day 3 began with a discussion of the multitude of tech challenges that exist in our classrooms and in our schools.

Poor internet. Outdated devices. Undermanned IT departments. Sanctions! No $$$$$$! These are just some of the experiences that many of us shared and were all too familiar with. But rather than focusing and dwelling on the “impossible”, why don’t we start learning from our African hosts and start making something out of nothing.

Everyday during our commute to and from school in Sudan, we see some of the most amazing examples of African ingenuity and problem-solving. The boys pulling the tin can car. The old man with the tire-tread shoes. The girls with the hoop and stick game.

If our hosts can make something from what is seemingly nothing, so can the 21st century connected teacher. When the internet goes down during a lesson, we should ask our students how we can still learn the same thing without the use of wifi. When we suffer a “tech misadventure”, instead of expressing frustration, we should scrap it and return to it later on in the day once we’ve figured out what went wrong. We should be more comfortable at laughing off our tech failures, and better at postponing a lesson to a time when tech is cooperating.

Let’s take a page out of the African novel. Let’s be better at making the “impossible” possible.

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