When Rubina Fazal, Humera Tatheer and Rizwana Siddiqui from APWA Govt Girls’ College- Karachi were nominated by the City District Government to attend the Intel Teach Program Essentials Course in 2003, little did they realize that it was the beginning of a long term relationship with Intel® Education Initiative - decision which would change the very meaning of Education in Government institutions in Karachi.
Government Colleges in Pakistan have their own challenges and it is considered almost impossible for teachers to practice any progressive methods of teaching, leave alone implementing technology enhanced student centered projects which require students to be at the driving wheel of their own learning. However, these three teachers decided to prove that this assumption false. Equipped with a master trainer’s certificate from Intel Education, they decided to leave no stone unturned until they had created an environment of technology assisted-enquiry based learning in their institution. In 2006 they won a technology Grant by taking part in the Intel Education Contest and submitting a case study which showed that the institution had truly succeeded in integrating technology effectively. Furthermore, all three teachers were the recipients of the Intel Education Awards for Teachers.
When asked about the training Rizwana Siddiqui said, “Although I am currently doing my PHD yet I really did not know what the qualities of a good teacher are. I think I learnt everything I know about teaching from Intel Education”
In 2007, once again opportunity was presented to further enhance their teaching skills with the new Thinking with Technology course. This gave them a chance to work together on a collaborative and multidisciplinary project using online K-12 thinking tools. These are active online learning places where students engage in robust discussions, pursue investigations, analyze complex information, and solve problems.
Rizwana - a Psychology teacher, Rubina who teaches Home Economics and Humera - a Language and Arts teacher, worked together to achieve yet another milestone in technology assisted teaching and learning in the government institution.Rizwana Siddiqui comments “As a Psychology teacher I loved the Showing Evidence Tool which allowed my students to construct well-reasoned arguments that were supported by evidence, using a visual framework.”
As part of this project, students took on the role of health counselors and developed a strategy to promote healthy lifestyles. They worked in teams, researched on determinants of health, and used the Seeing Reason (thinking Tool) Cause and Effect Map to analyze the factors which influence healthy development. They also conducted a survey on physical health of children from their neighborhood. In order to identify mental health problems they also visited the Institute of Clinical Psychology. The students collected data and used it to appraise different scenarios given during and after the unit. They also used the Showing Evidence Tool to debate on the issue of banning advertisements which play an adverse role in promoting unhealthy development in young minds.
Students presented their revival strategy and established goals that would lead to a healthier life style; arranging a seminar to create maximum awareness about leading a healthy life. This seminar was attended by many dignitaries from the City District Govt. Karachi. The students also distributed electronic posters which they had designed to educate and sensitize the audience about the need to inculcate healthy lifestyles in young children and adults.
Rubina Fazal sums up, “Problem Based Learning Projects are further enhanced by the use of technology as the ownership of learning now shifts to students who can continue to learn on their own, in life and in their chosen careers.”