The Digital Dance

Canadian teachers and students live, work, and learn in digitally rich environments at home and school. In Rwanda’s rural Rubavu District, many teachers and students lack digital skills, knowledge, and—most importantly—confidence due to their limited access to technology we take for granted in North America. How can we help equip students and teachers for the future and prevent them from being left behind? 

Digital Solutions to the Digital Divide

To help answer that question, Wellspring has been taking a creative approach to build the digital skills of primary school teachers—especially women who have often lacked opportunities to grow their technology toolkit. The result is an innovative, hybrid format to our training which helps teachers grow in their use of technology through in-person and on-demand training. This means teachers can now access a portion of our training when and where they need it.

Our team has adapted our Lesson Planning module to take on this new hybrid format. Rather than just in-person training which is limited by time and space, teachers can now watch videos of our training on their phones, on the internet, or through a USB drive on their laptops! This approach builds teachers’ digital skills for their own professional learning, and also equips them to offer more diverse and engaging lessons to their students. Women teachers who confidently use digital devices to teach and learn are powerful role models for all students, especially girls.

Ready for the Digital Age

This blended training creates more supportive classrooms and is building into teachers and creating advancement opportunities for women within the education sector—teachers just like 58-year-old Aurea.

I used to fear technology saying that I am not concerned as a woman—and especially an old woman. This was because I was not interested and could not see myself learning technology.”

During a face-to-face workshop all about developing basic technology skills, Aurea was thrilled to use a laptop for the first time. She told our team that she loved typing on the keyboard and saving documents:

To be honest, before I used only my phone for receiving calls and WhatsApp messages. But, after the training, I can type and play with my laptop, writing whatever I want. Now I send emails, SMS, and WhatsApp messages to colleagues.”

Aurea set up her first-ever email account, and with confidence and her newly developed typing skills ready for action, she wrote an email to a respected guest speaker from a Rwandan government civil society organization all by herself. When she received an encouraging and immediate email response, her pride and excitement burst forth, and she jumped from her chair and danced around the room!

Through this training, teachers like Aurea are not only growing their digital skills and are ready to meet the digital future head-on, but are ready to equip their students to be leaders in the digital age.

The Future is Digital

She explained that she is now confident and motivated to use digital devices in her lesson planning after attending this training and growing in her ICT knowledge and skills.

“I am no longer afraid of teaching subjects like Science and Elementary Technology where ICT lessons are taught.”

But it wasn’t only Aurea who shared this sentiment! This positive attitude toward learning to use technology—the first time for many women—was repeated by many other women teachers. These teachers expressed a fear not of the devices but of being left behind. They know Rwanda is committed to moving into the digital age, and they don’t want to be bypassed because of their gender or age.

I will use this training to help others, specifically old women like me working here in my school, to try to use computers by themselves. I will assist others who are still struggling. It will increase my communication with them by sending emails to teachers and school leaders.”

Through this training, teachers like Aurea are not only growing their digital skills and are ready to meet the digital future head-on, but are ready to equip their students to be leaders in the digital age.

The BDL project is funded by the Fund for Innovation and Transformation in partnership with the Government of Canada.

Fund for Innovation and Transformation.
In partnership with Canada.
Inter-council Network.

News from our Blended Digital Learning project