Level Up Village helps create a global classroom at Blouberg Ridge Primary School

| April 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

BY PAOLA CARNEGIE

In 2017, two representatives from the American global education company Level Up Village1 came to visit me at Blouberg Ridge Primary School, situated in the Bloubergrant area of Table View in Cape Town in the Western Cape.

Level Up Village invited me to participate in a global classroom experience. My initial attraction was the company’s web design and programming course, which I could do with my students.

I was interested in extending my students’ learning during computer club, an extramural after school. What Level Up Village was offering was an opportunity to teach students new skills, at the same time building one-on-one relationships with students across the world! I was honoured to be the first teacher in South Africa to take part in a Level Up Village programme.

Level Up Village expands global consciousness

Before teaching the programming (coding) and web design course, I was enrolled in Level Up Village’s online training. I always thought of myself as a humanitarian, but when I did the training, I realised how much I lived in my own world. The training introduced me to the bigger picture. Collaborating with nations across the world can work towards building world peace. It dawned on me that whatever we do in South Africa doesn’t just affect me and my immediate family or even only South Africans, but the entire world. I was really touched by the thought of collaborating with others overseas for the good of our world. I absolutely loved the thought of being part of this.

Level Up Village supplied our school with 10 webcams last year, and another 10 this year as my club has grown. This has enabled the students to make videos and upload them for their partners in the US to watch. Besides learning new computer skills, the students thoroughly enjoy collaborating with their partners in the US. They love recording videos of themselves and can’t wait to get back to the computer room to view their partners’ responses. I was moved by the expressions on their faces as they watch their partners’ videos. Through the collaboration course, my students learnt to communicate better, their level of empathy increased throughout their exchanges, and they learned how to code and build a website. Moreover, they improved their knowledge on climate change and what solutions are appropriate for our country and their partner’s country.

Constant support and excitement

Level Up Village does not only offer computer-based courses. It delivers science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) enrichment courses that promote design thinking. It supplies us with online step-by-step instruction booklets for the students and the teacher, and all the resources needed for the course. The company’s team is always willing to assist us every step of the way, and contacts us regularly to see how we are doing and if there is anything that they can do to help us. We have Skype calls when necessary, and whenever there is something that we don’t understand or need to know, there is always help at the end of the line. There is also a financial benefit to our school: Level Up Village pays approximately US$3 for every student that participates in a class.

In 2017, I ran Level Up Village’s Global Programmers class in term three and the Global Web Designers class in term four, with 21 students. We collaborated with students in Texas. I started this year off with the Global Web Designers class with 29 students. This time, we are collaborating with students in Louisiana. The students have really enjoyed learning Dash2 and creating their own web page on Weebly.3

We are all busy with our video exchanges at the moment, and this is when all the excitement starts, because each student meets a new person who lives thousands of kilometres away. Level Up Village doesn’t just work with the higher grades, it also has classes for much younger students – even foundation phase students – so teachers and students are not limited in any way. I definitely recommend this project for teachers and their students who would like to grow in their thinking and progress to greater levels of collaboration. The training does take some time, and you need time to approve your students’ videos which they load. Approving videos ensures that nothing can be said that would hinder progress or offend anyone, which is essential when working with eager young people. This said, I find that participating in this programme is extremely rewarding. I hope to grow from year to year by introducing other staff members to the classes, and including even more students each year.

References:

1. See: https://www.levelupvillage.com/

2. See: https://dash.generalassemb.ly/

3. See: https://www.weebly.com/za

Category: Autumn 2018

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