One of the new forms of professional development around technology integration that has intrigued me is the move towards ‘TeachMeets’. This is all part of the social networking age of ‘sharing’ information. TeachMeets are a world-wide phenomenon where ‘teachers teach teachers’ for around 3 minutes on a free web tool that has made a big difference in a lesson. In America these events are often referred to as ‘Edcamps’, while South Africa, Britain and Australia use the term ‘TeachMeet’.
In South Africa, TeachMeets have taken place in Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and the Western Cape to date. What happens is the organiser, usually a teacher at a school or an organisation such as Microsoft (in the case of Gauteng), sends out an invitation to attend a TeachMeet on a certain date, and offers participating teachers a chance to be a Kean Bean (a presenter) or an Enthusiastic Lurker (an attendee). The session lasts about two hours and the host provides light refreshments, a laptop for the presentations and a data projector with a screen. Participants use Twitter and the hashtag arranged for the event to keep a record of what is said and sites mentioned, which allows outsiders to follow the event. In this way teachers meet teachers from other schools and cross pollinate their ideas. Teachers normally leave these sessions very inspired with a host of new ideas, and the pleasant experience of having connected with old friends while making new ones.
Topics at a TeachMeet range from:
Using Mxit as a platform for learners to ask for assistance in Maths and Science
Free tools such as Numberwise to help learner’s master Maths concepts
Sites that stress the importance of internet safety and security
Ways of using cell phones and social media to support learning
The use of Edmodo and Obami to create a classroom community
Classroom motivational systems such as ClassDojo
How blogging can engage students and enhance classroom practice
Webtools that allow students to create beautiful online posters
How to use free Microsoft tools such as Songsmith or Windows Movie Maker in education
The value of using screencasting for lessons
Various iPad apps and how they benefit a classroom
Google Docs and how they can be used as effective collaboration tools.
The list is endless. What better way is there to learn than from classroom practitioners themselves!
If you would like to know more about TeachMeets and perhaps start one at your school, please take a look at the TeachMeet-SouthAfrica wiki where teachers advertise their upcoming TeachMeets. It also explains all aspects of a TeachMeet for anyone who wants to start one. The SchoolNet blog carries report backs of the TeachMeets at the different locations if you would like to find out more.
TeachMeet at Microsoft, Johannesburg on 4 June – inspiring!
First TeachMeet in KZN held at St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls
A report back on a TeachMeet at Somerset House on 23rd May 2012
Have you been to a TeachMeet or iPadMeet in South Africa yet?