Learning How to Speak Technology in Our Classrooms

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Hi, I’m Maha and I joined Impact Network in September of this year to help plan Chefs for Impact and stayed on to help through end of year projects.

Before joining Impact Network I was teaching English as Second Language at a private language school in New York City. My students came to New York from all over the world with the goal of learning or improving their English.

At the school I taught, we had a 30+ section, reserved for students who are at least 30 years old, which allowed teachers to focus on the specific needs of adult learners. Research shows that the older you get, the harder it is to learn a second language; I developed a deep admiration for my students in the 30+ section of the school. They were always extremely dedicated, focused and had a clear understanding of the effort they needed to put into their learning. The school also had an online learning platform, onto which teachers posted their lesson plans, homework and any additional activities, and the students in turn could download/submit homework and do some additional practice using the platform.  What I realized, however, was that some of my older students often had a hard time and reluctance to engaging with the technology, and much preferred it if I gave them the homework and activities in printed form. This was obviously due to the fact that they hadn’t been accustomed to learning using technology and didn’t want to invest time in adopting it on top of their language learning. This didn't put a stop to their studying but definitely didn’t take it to its deepest potential; their learning process was still defined by the more traditional methods of gaining and engaging with new knowledge.

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How does this relate to Impact Network? When I joined Impact, I quickly became passionate about their mission. What drew me to it the most was the fact that the students were not only given access to quality education, but that they were learning the language of technology in parallel with the assigned curriculum. In contrast to my students in New York, who come from affluent backgrounds, Impact Network students in rural Zambia come from poorer families. They, however, will be entering the real world as adults who are not overwhelmed by technology but who see it as a facilitator and are able to engage with it with ease and confidence. Students coming from Impact Network schools will never be hindered by technology.  The education they receive from a very young age will empower them to be people of modern and future times, able to compete on a global scale.

Steve Jobs said: “Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.” The team at Impact Network puts faith in its teachers and communities, who do the same with the students, and they are all equipped with the right tools to succeed, be successful and grow into their fullest potential. The technology not only facilitates the learning at Impact Network schools, but also ensures that our students are ready to join the ever-changing technological world of today.

I leave Impact Network this month, fully believing in its mission and the tools that are used in order to drive it forward.  I am proud to have contributed to a team that cares deeply about shaping future generations and I look forward to seeing Impact Network grow and flourish further in the years to come. 

- Maha