“We live in a global, knowledge-based society where creativity determines the survival and prosperity of nations as well as individuals in order to march towards prosperity.” – Ruwankumari Weeramuni, Sri Lanka
Ruwankumari Weeramuni, who will be attending the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Prague next month, knew she had a big task in raising her school’s standards for technology education. Resources were scarce, and technology use was limited to students studying IT. The school functioned using traditional paper-based systems, and the entire teaching/learning process was based on traditional methods.
Weeramuni, a Partners in Learning Pathfinder School member and an Intel master trainer, helped her fellow teachers transition to using ICT in the classroom. Eventually, many aspects of the school’s operations were also helped by technology, including a manual evaluation system which became a computer-based system. Programs were conducted to make the broader school community aware of the new role technology would play in the lives of students and teachers, and ultimately, Weeramuni trained teachers throughout her zone on bringing ICT into teaching and learning.
“Every year, students from the teachers college come to Sri Rahula Balika Maha Vidyalaya
for their internship,” Weeramuni says. “They are being given a proper knowledge of ICT at the computer learning center under my guidance, and as a result, our computer learning center was awarded as the best of the western province and won the National Information Technology Excellence award in 2009.” Weeramuni knows that her efforts have made a big difference, especially in the attitudes of teachers and students, who are now motivated to innovate.
“We live in a global, knowledge-based society where creativity determines the survival and prosperity of nations as well as individuals in order to march towards prosperity,” she says. “The country needs innovative teachers and students who are equipped with the
knowledge of modern technology, and my dream is to be an active part of this venture.”
Based on the success she’s had so far, it looks like her dream is very much coming true. Here’s today’s Daily Edventure with Ruwankumari Weeramuni.
Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?
By applying the knowledge I obtained and with the support of my colleagues, we have been able to provide effective IT education for the students in our school.
What has changed as a result of your efforts?
In my school, I have expanded the IT facilities. Information Technology, which was confined only to IT students, was extended to teach to other students as well. Most of the teachers and the students now use IT in the teaching and learning process.
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
With the help of new technology, I have become a time saver. Others can also learn how to do expeditious work using information technology. Others can convert their manual work into computerized work.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
I use a learning management system (LMS) to plan, implement, and assess a specific learning process. A learning management system provides an instructor with a way to create and deliver content, monitor student participation, and assess student performance. A learning management system may also provide students with the ability to use interactive features such as video conferencing and discussion forums.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
Lack of physical resources and human resources are the biggest obstacles. But with the limited human resources available, we provided information technology knowledge to the students and obtained an optimum result. Our students and teachers took part in various information technology competitions and won many awards. Through these, we got the attention of the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education then agreed to provide the necessary physical and human resources. To overcome the financial obstacles, we conduct evening classes on a payment basis and these payments are used for the maintenance of the equipment.
What is your country doing right to support education?
The government provides free education to all the children from grade one up to university education, including free text books and uniform material. The government also allocates a considerable amount of money annually to provide quality education to the students, appoints qualified teachers and trains them free of charge. Teachers are given scholarships; principals are given foreign tours to get experience from other countries.
What conditions must change in your country to better support education?
All the schools in the country must get ample human resources and physical resources. Computer- assisted learning should be introduced to all the schools, providing equal IT education opportunities to all the students. They must also recognize and promote innovative teaching, which enables the teachers to be innovative and teach outside the box. This will help to change the negative public perception towards the present education system and help to bring more resources and support.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
Use information and communication technology for the learning and teaching process, so that the teachers and the learners can deviate from the traditional teaching/learning processes. Teachers should be encouraged to be innovative by receiving ample resources, tools and opportunities.
What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?
My advice for a new teacher would be to enjoy working with new technology and learn from every experience.
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?
Information Communication Technology helps students to face the challenges of the future and helps them to bridge the traditional classroom with technological innovations.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
I would create educational opportunities for the world’s children by providing each child with a laptop with content and software designed for learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. It would be the student’s laptop containing necessary programs and software developed to provide creative education for the child. This would enable the child to develop his/her skills individually and constructively. We must teach them how to filter the information they find so that they know what to look for and what to take as true knowledge. I would also give them software to create their own content, so that they express themselves and communicate their own ideas to the rest of the world.
Microsoft Innovative Schools Program
A few days ago, we announced our new cohort of Microsoft Innovative Pathfinder and Mentor Schools. These are schools on the cutting edge, pushing the envelope to ensure students are gaining the skills they need to be successful in a 21st century environment.
The 99 new Pathfinder Schools and Mentor Schools from 51 countries were chosen because they have strong school leadership and have established a record of innovation and successful change implementation. They have demonstrated student success and are great showcases for how one-to-one computing, rethinking curriculum design, bringing innovation to scale for a district, and creating a climate for technological advancement through professional development can improve learning environments to make a real impact on transforming education.
About Ruwankumari Weeramuni
- Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Current residence: Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Education: Bachelor of Science, University of Colombo
- Website I check every day: www.schoolnet.lk
- Person who inspires me most: Dr. Ajith Madurapperuma
- Favorite childhood memory: The day I got first place in the high jump event at the School Championships.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Prague, Czech Republic. Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum.
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? One minute ago, playing with my son.
- Favorite book: Gamperaliya by Martin Wickramasinghe
- Favorite music: Classical music
- Your favorite quote or motto:
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.
“Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!” – Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha
Partners in Learning Global Forum 2012
Microsoft Partners in Learning celebrates the world’s most innovative educators and school leaders for bringing technology to life in the classroom and impacting millions of students.
Microsoft Partners in Learning hosts national and regional events throughout the year that recognize innovative educators and school leaders. These competitions culminate in the Partners in Learning Global Forum.
This year’s Global Forum will take place in Prague, Czech Republic from November 28 – December 1, 2012. The Global Forum – with the theme, “Your ideas matter” – will bring together more than 500 of the most innovative teachers, school leaders, education leaders, and government officials from 75 countries.
During this “Olympics” in Education, we encourage our attendees to connect, collaborate, and share their innovative teaching ideas so that students can realize their greatest potential in the classroom.
We invite you to follow the evolution of our event at the PiL Network Global Forum Community Discussion here.
We also have email signatures and social media badges ready for you to use and distribute here in order to show your support and help us encourage the teachers finalists!