Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Teaching and Learning

Today was a pretty awesome celebration. We completed an 8-week class in computer programming where a group of about 15 students got introduced to the worlds they could create and control through computer programming.

There were a lot of highlights about this class. First of all, I got to see the guys I've worked with for several years now get selected and trained professionally by a nationally renowned technology training center. They were trained to teach other students in their barrio, and thanks to some huge corporate grants, will be paid for their expertise.

A project that Queso made in class was so good that he was selected to showcase it at a press release, where he and another fellow teacher from La Carpio made it into the national news. One interesting thing about that project is that I remember his idea for the project from several years ago when I first started teaching him; it wasn't until now that he finally found a way to make it a reality... and it's a pretty fun game!

So Queso's project got selected to be showcased. Next up, our guys got complemented for the progress they'd made with the students. Willy took the reins and led most of the classes during the 8 weeks, and last week the administrators of the program came to peek in on how we were doing. They said it was the best instruction site they'd seen so far. They were very impressed. This was encouraging to hear, because the classroom that began getting a face lift back in January (see the previous post) now really looks like a classroom - all the machines are working and optimized, the walls are painted with a verse about the renewing of our minds on the wall, the projector is up and running, and the air conditioning works without flooding the classroom. Just walking into the room makes you imagine the possibilities.

I can't brag enough about our guys, they've stood out in more ways that I could have ever imagined.

In other news, our Learning Technologies Costa Rica Team shared at the church I attend two weeks ago. My boss, Mauricio, talked about changes and developments in Latin American missions. Which is quite an interesting topic, really. My ideas and experiences of missionary work have been shaped in unique ways through my three years here in Costa Rica, especially by seeing how nationally-led missionary outreaches work. In many ways we've worked through that reality as a team, and so it was cool to be able to share about the different things we do at our church. In the photo is our entire office team.

A couple of other learning experiences for me show up in the photos that I post on-line. I attended a robotics class for educators (the students were getting ahead of me and I felt like I was getting left behind). Next I attended the first Latin American conference on "Scratch", the educational programming tool we use in our classes. It was pretty interesting to be a part of the exchange with other Latin American educators. And finally, I visited a partner ministry in Honduras that hopes to create a learning lab similar to the one in La Carpio... with a few additional challenges and tweaks.

And finally, another learning experience on the horizon is the final year of the applied anthropology masters degree I'm doing on-line. This experience studying on-line has been a fascinating complement to the work and cross-cultural experience I've had here in Costa Rica. So much of it relates directly to what I am doing. As an example, you might want to check out the 15-minute oral presentation/report I created about "environmental justice" issues in La Carpio.

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