This was a re-start of our project that got paused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2nd workshop happened in Dabou, Cote d’Ivoire on 29th February, 2020, and then a third with Manchester colleagues online and the teachers and local teacher education colleagues in Dabou on 14th March. We then attempted to continue to carry on the work we had started in 2020 using WhatsApp, but very few of the teachers continued contributing — we are hoping to find out why. We kept in touch with our teacher education colleagues, however, and with their help have been able to re-start today, 23 January, 2012, eleven months later.
So, here we are, towards the end of January, 2021, hoping we can get some way towards finishing the project using a combination of different technical platforms: WhatsApp, Padlet and Zoom with a few Covid-19 secure meetings. This is the timetable we hope to follow until the end of March:
We work with a router in Dabou which works on mobile data; the participants use this as a way to connect to colleagues in Manchester and other colleagues via WhatsApp. The aim is to try to encourage the participants to become more familiar with WhatsApp, and to use it once they go back home, or to their schools.
The remote participants from Manchester re-cap on some of the ideas presented in the two workshops and present a critical incident and a puzzle that has featured in their own online teaching:
The Manchester colleagues showed how they had thought through this incident and the plans they made to try to get more of their MA students to turn on their cameras in seminars.
We then spent some time exploring the feasibility of further tools to facilitate interaction in the coming weeks. Colleagues in Dabou first of all downloaded Zoom onto their phones so that we could see if it might be possible to use this for smaller group meetings in the next phase of the project. Most people were able to join us in Zoom, although there were some issues with sound not working on the phones at the beginning.
The final tool we introduced was Padlet, a ‘virtual wall’ to post and share. Because of our experience of using Padlet in our teaching at Manchester, we thought this might be helpful as a way of storing and commenting on puzzles, but also providing access to materials we had used before. Two padlets were set up for these purposes as illustrated below.
Having experimented with these tools, we finished by setting up inquiry groups based on the schools, so that we could arrange interim smaller group meetings between teachers and mentors through to 13th February. The aim of these encounters will be to move the puzzle identification forward; to create useful guiding questions; and begin to consider ways in which teachers might gather information to respond to these questions, and thus better understand their puzzles.