2014 is nearing an end and I have a moment to look back at the Tech Teachers web site and the C.A.T. and I.T. Teachers Facebook Group.
I am very much a reflective kind of teacher. I like to look at how the year went and think about what worked in my teaching, and what did not.
I also take time to think about what kind of teacher I have been and what I could change in the way I teach or come across to my students. I know it sounds so noble but it’s actually not so easy!
However, this time I am reflecting on the Tech Teachers site and the Facebook group as it has taken a lot of my time over the last year and I have worked very hard to make it work for teachers country-wide.
The web site started as a basic blog in May 2013. I started it shortly after the Facebook group as I saw more teachers joining the group as each month went by. I was just happy to see more than 30 teachers in the group and resources and it was great. A big advantage was the fact that we were all able to share our work with each other via shared Dropbox folders. That proved to be very popular!
To my surprise (no, really) more and more teachers started joining the Facebook group and the web site! From double-digits to triple. I made the Facebook a secure closed group so that only teachers could access and post comments and files etc. I moved the file sharing to another service provider but that proved to be cumbersome due to firewalls and browser incompatibilities.
I upgraded my web space and web site setup so that a more professional image was portrayed. I also started making the site the central access point for the shared resources and more. I added lots of content that I knew would be useful for C.A.T. and I.T. teachers. I also implemented membership-based access so that I could make sure that only teachers would access the site. My goal was for teachers only – by teachers for teachers!
I put Google ads on the site to help cover expenses – it IS expensive to run and maintain a site like this, believe it or not – and also started creating materials to share with teachers. I made posters and other materials that teachers could purchase (again, to help cover costs) and they have proved to be very popular indeed.
From 1000 hits a month to 15 000 – 20 000 and the Google ads helping along the way, site membership grew to over 750 teachers. The Facebook group went from 200 to over 430 teachers over the space of about 7 or so months. Wow!
I am still overwhelmed by the incredible support of MANY teachers country-wide of the group and the web site. The constant input, the advice, the resources being shared and supplied for all to use as they see fit…it’s a testimony to academic online collaboration (as many of the teachers do not even know each other or have met in person). A group now exists for old and young, new and experienced to collaborate, to discuss and engage with each other on topics relating to our subjects. New teachers have a place to go to and ask questions, ask for help. More experienced teachers have a forum to express their experience-gained wisdom and guide others. What a fantastic group it has become!
Where to now? Onwards! We never stop learning as teachers. We never stop trying to get better at what we do. Limited resources and apathetic students make it difficult but with the support of other teachers in the same boat, we row together!
Some ideas for the site for 2015
- A Delphi section with video tutorials by a local professional programmer and lecturer
- A Java section with documents and tutorials (I am still looking for someone to help me with that)
- A Terminology Revision application for teachers and students (currently being edited by over 12 teachers collaboratively via Google sheets)
- More resources that teachers can use – as and when I have time to create them!
- Afrikaans posters coming soon
- I want to start networking with large players in the IT sector and organise a massive day out/field trip for computer students to see technology in action in the real world (need help with this too)
- I would love other teachers who are competent bloggers to blog on the Tech Teachers website so we can have fresh content from other teachers instead of just me
I cannot do this all myself, so appeal to teachers who want to be involved to contact me and let me know what you are able to assist with.
Thank you, all my colleagues, for maintaining the professionalism, the ‘netiquette’ and behaviour that we should always display when interacting online. Thank you for the input, the ideas, the discussions and debates. I look forward to another year of teaching alongside veterans and newbies as we walk the path of education and instill a love and respect for our subjects.
All the best for the holidays and the new year!