I think it all started on a Wednesday morning in May.
I was completely unprepared for the new direction my career would suddenly take. It was during tea break that our principal walked into the staff room and ask if anybody had family or friends in Johannesburg that they would like to visit that weekend. A surprised silence settled on the staff after all the weekend was 2 days away and the school don’t tend to offer to pay for weekend trips.
There was an eLearning conference hosted by Sunward Park High School in Johannesburg and the school’s governing body felt that we needed to send some teachers to investigate this. They felt so strongly about it that they found the money to pay for plane tickets and hiring a car, which is unheard of in our school.
I had no plans for the weekend and some friends that I would like to see, so I volunteered. At this point I was a maths teacher who knew a little bit about computers, eLearning was still a foreign concept to me. None of us took this whole thing seriously. We might be a well-known school, but we were as technologically backwards as can be. But if the governing body wants to waste money on a weekend trip, who am I to complain.
The conference at Sunward Park was merely the beginning of a roller coaster ride of research, meetings, budgets and pilot programs. With the help of parents who was willing to offer their expertise, governors who understood the need to spend money on good infrastructure and an amazing principal who was willing to take a change on this new direction in education and on me, within 8 months we were ready to start a pilot program with our grade 9’s.
Since that Wednesday in May, I have given up some of my maths classes to free up more of my time to coordinate the implementation of eLearning and we have complete the pilot program with our grade 9’s and are now ready to expand the program from grade 8 to 10 in 2016. Hopefully, the whole school will be 1-to-1 by the beginning of 2017.
Who would have thought that when I volunteered for that conference in May 2014 that it would launch me into a completely new direction and open a whole new world to me and my classroom to a whole new world.