TeachMeet: 'Speed dating' for teachers

Johannesburg, 17 Oct 2011

SA's first Microsoft TeachMeet, an initiative born out of the company's Partners in Learning programme, was held last Thursday.

Angela Schaerer, academic programme manager at Microsoft SA, says the programme hopes to encourage collaboration between teachers. Speaking at the first Microsoft TeachMeet to be held in SA, Schaerer likened the initiative to “speed dating for teachers”. She said TeachMeets present an opportunity for teachers to meet and share ideas.

The event encouraged teachers to share ways in which technology can be used to enhance classroom learning. It was also live-tweeted, which allowed teachers from across the globe to join the conversation. Schaerer said that because teachers are given three minutes to stand up and present an idea or tip, the event is “fun, quick and snappy”.

Following the presentations, the teachers were able to meet each other, discuss the presentations put forward, and network.

Schaerer, who has also worked as a teacher, said that, in the past, teachers have been reluctant to share their work, as they put a lot of effort into creating new lessons.

However, according to Schaerer, today, teaching is very much about sharing. She argues that collaboration allows teachers to gather new ideas and try new things. She adds that the Microsoft Partners in Learning programme, which spearheaded the TeachMeet event, focuses on building capacity and communities. Schaerer explains that Microsoft offers facilitated training as part of capacity building.

In order to build communities of teachers, the programme has also set up an online portal where teachers can share their material and download resources submitted by other teachers, says Schaerer. At the same time, she notes, the portal allows teachers to connect with other teachers in SA, Africa and the world. She points out that this enables teachers to find other teachers who are facing similar problems; they can then work together to find solutions.

Schaerer says that based on the positive feedback from the first TeachMeet, Microsoft plans to host a TeachMeet in Johannesburg at least once a quarter. The company will also host these events in other provinces, she says.

For more information on the Microsoft TeachMeets, click here, and for more information on the Microsoft Partners in Learning programme, click here.