‘Start small’ is how my journey has started with iEARN since I first applied to participate in the Spring 2018 BRIDGE Program. I expected engaging in an online course of some kind and kept wondering about its pre-requisites, length, pace, and challenges. Once I received an invitation to attend the face-to-face workshop in Bechar and learned how things would work, I realized that iEARN is not just an online course!
Being an iEARN participant means that one has to meet some standards and, most importantly, to demonstrate commitment. Miss Kheira Mezough, the country coordinator and Mr Mustapha Louznadji, the BRIDGE Online Course Facilitator kindly illuminated all the candidates; provided them with adequate information about the online course, the project-based pedagogy, and declared offered their readiness for assistance and guidance. It is worth mentioning that mastering ICT would be of great help to accomplish the tasks and achieve success. However, it can be a chance for those educators, who are not so proficient, to improve their skills and update their ‘savoir-faire’.
All participants received their accounts’ information and the voyage began. Not only did the educators take advantage from the BRIDGE Program, but their students as well.
As for me, it was the opportunity to effectively communicate with peer educators at a world level, exchange experiences, and learn from one another. Likewise, my students were able to connect with students from different countries in a formal way. Moreover, it sounded as if a window was opened to my students in order to develop their skills.
The core of my iEARN experience was the exploration of the project-based pedagogy. This trend focuses on a number of tenets. To start, a driving question or challenge has to be set. This will engender a need to seek information and knowledge. The eagerness to know leads to inquiry and innovation using the 21st century skills. The learners then make their choices and work individually and collaboratively. They revise their work and provide feedback. In the end, they present the outcome publicly. The project is student-centred where the teacher plays the role of a guide. Moreover, under the umbrella of the project-based pedagogy, the student becomes a critical thinker, problem solver, discerning reader, continuous learner, effective communicator and a global citizen.
They chose to deal with Heritage, Traditions & Identity. They suggested numerous ways to make a final product depending on the materials they have and the time available.
I noticed that motivation increased in my classes and even non-participants wanted information about the project. Hopefully, the small group project turned into a community project; and that was one of the reasons that compelled my students to behave like ambassadors of Beni Ounif and Algeria showing respect to the others and adopting positive dialogue.
The opportunities provided by iEARN helped me in developing my professional career, changed my view towards projects, and gave me the tools to invest my knowledge in further areas in education namely teacher training through the online software platforms and the efficient procedures to achieve quality teaching practices.
To end, if you are an educator and you wish to develop professionally and teach in tandem with the current practices in teaching, embrace the project-based pedagogy- apply for iEARN.
Colonel Lotfi Secondary school, Beni Ounif, Bechar