Gafieza Ismail-Le Chat is among the ‘early adopters’ of ICT because she believes it adds value to teaching. She recently won ‘Excellence in Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning’ category of the National Teaching Award 2015.
She spoke to Thabo Mohlala about the significance of ICT in the classroom.
Where it all started
Ismail-Le Chat started teaching in 2007 just after she graduated from the University of Cape Town. She teaches English and this is her 9th year in the profession. She said she chose teaching as a career because as a teenager, she was deeply passionate about the written word. This obsession did not manifest during her schooling years but was an inherent curiosity that has paved the journey of my life, she said. “I found myself on a quest to prove that English Literature can be exhilarating and perceptively alter our place in existence. English is a universal language and it carries the attributes of character, mental stimulation, psychological and social enhancement and most importantly, cultural evolution,” she added. Ismail-Le Chat said she believes in teaching because she does not only educate the learner but she is presented with the opportunity to empower the minds and spirits of the youth.
How was it like when you first used ICT in the classroom?
When I started I tried to find a means to enhance the learning experience for my academically challenged learners. I believe we need to emulate the world in which our learners are exposed to it in the classroom. I decided to approach their learning through digital media. I then started by creating an online classroom. Since we had so many learners who struggled to maintain focus, I also made sure content was available online. This proved successful. The use of technology in the classroom, teaching English via video and interactive and animated PowerPoint lessons, excites the learners and made them more receptive to learning.
Why do you think technology is such an important teaching tool?
Children today are quite stimulated. However, the need for intellectual and mental stimulation has become tantamount to their successes. The ever-evolving world in which they are exposed has culminated in varying methods to stimulate them. Technology allows educators to access and enhance the learners’ mental prowess by stimulating them through different learning styles. As educators, our first obligation is to the learner and ensuring that he or she reaches the potential of global citizenship and involvement. Thus, the key method to do this is to educate them through the channels which they will later be exposed to post-matric. We need to aid in their advancement and our own in order to keep up with the ever-changing global society.
In practical terms, how do you use it to teach your subject?
I use audio content such as readings of novels for the learners. I also audio record my lessons for their listening at a later time. I also use video lessons in which I embed quizzes. I present lessons using multimedia PowerPoint presentations, animated videos with assessments attached for learners to do after the lesson. I also have an online classroom blog that presents lessons to them for examination purposes and further stimulation. I also teach learners to annotate on PDF documents for class analysis of poetry and drama and present them with annotated documents.
How would you encourage teachers who are sceptical or fear technology to adopt it as an effective teaching aid?
Technology is constantly changing and it can be daunting, however, start small. Teachers need to take one step at a time. Start with Microsoft word and type lessons. Then, move on to Powerpoint and create slides. Then, research video content and present videos in the classroom to inspire critical discussion on varying subject content. If we have a desire to be better, we will certainly be empowered to continue that betterment. So, start small but every time add a detail and learn. Learning necessitates learning.
Gafieza Ismail-Le Chat teaches English Home Language at Spine Road High School in Rocklands, Cape Town.