“The use of modern information technology in education helps students to form a creative and productive approach, which is sure to come in handy in their future profession or a process of self-education.” – Oleksii and Oleksandr Tebenko, Ukraine
“Children are very different and it’s difficult to find a versatile tool that will be interesting to all,” say Oleksii and Oleksandr Tebenko. “We believe that children should learn in a playful way, in a manner that is natural to their age. With game play, students can relax and better concentrate on the subject, which undoubtedly contributes to better learning.”
The Tebenkos, twin brothers from Ukraine, put their words into action last year at the Windows 8 Appathon with their app, “Matches” — a brain-training game which allows people to use match sticks and memory games to help remember things. They won the people’s choice prize for their project. “We wanted to show that common objects such as matches could help employ creativity and aid in the development of one’s logic, imagination, memory, attention and even improving reaction speed,” said Oleksii Tebenko.
But the brothers didn’t stop there. They continued to work on the app even after their win. Now known as MindSticks, the game now features added color, improved design and five types of tasks: logic, imagination, memory, reaction and attention. “The most valuable prize at the Appathon was a lot of interesting comments and suggestions,” they say. “But most importantly, we saw that our idea was really interesting and actually innovative.” With their finished product, the Tebenkos paid special attention to interaction with users. “Now they can create their own levels and challenges, making the application a more versatile learning tool that can be customized based on the knowledge level,” they say. “The game now has a clearly marked social character, and we created levels that can be accessible to all community members.”
I hope you enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Oleksii and Oleksandr Tebenko.
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
We like to pass our knowledge on to the younger generation. In this process we discover many new things for ourselves, because sometimes kids say something that an adult would never be able to guess. They have no burden of knowledge or life experience, which can often interfere with creative thinking. They are not afraid to experiment and do not think about failure. And when you see them and they truly are interested in your thoughts, you feel almost like a rock star. This can make an impression on the most open-minded listeners.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education or inspired you the most?
To us, teachers are not good or bad, rather, they make their subjects interesting to you (or not). Any teacher, eventually, teaches you something. Some develop your imagination and thinking, while others develop character.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
Since we work in IT, we are applying technology in different innovative ways to support our research. To collaborate with students and colleagues we use Skype. To exchange information we use cloud-based systems, such as SkyDrive, Office 365. To organize webinars we use Lync.
Why did you become an educator?
We became teachers in order to share our knowledge with others.
What is your philosophy as an educator?
There are no people who cannot be taught and there are no people who have learned everything.
What type of learning environment do you create in your classroom?
Work in groups on projects, using Office 365 and Lync for webinars.
Why is using technology an important part of your educator?
The use of modern information technology in education helps students to form a creative and productive approach, which is sure to come in handy in their future profession or a process of self-education.
Explain how technology has changed education for you?
Most of the information that teachers or students need is available online. Only few clicks of a mouse or swipes on a screen and you can find answers to most questions. Technology provides possibilities to communicate with students and colleagues, who are physically in different places. Technology also has some negative impacts. Such things as cheating are now simpler than ever.
What are three things every student must have in order to be successful?
Everybody must have dreams, goals, and aspirations.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
Reluctance to gain new knowledge and the constant need to invent new and interesting methods to motivate students and convince them that they really need this knowledge.
Where do you find inspiration and new ideas for the classroom?
We read IT news, visit various conferences and share experiences with colleagues.
What lessons have your students taught you?
Our students have taught us that every one of them is a unique personality and it is necessary to find a unique approach, if you really want to teach them something. This process is not always easy, so it is important not to be nervous and stay calm.
What is your key to success?
Set a goal and never stop, even if you fail. When you have reached your goal, you have to find a new one.
How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
Our advice is to never be afraid to experiment, and many times, a bad experience is even more valuable than success. In any case, do not stop –continue to innovate, using the knowledge you have received. And if you encounter problems that you cannot solve by yourself, then do not hesitate to share them with other teachers.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
The widespread availability of technology (phones, tablets, etc.), which can help you get quick access to information, this is very important, especially given the tremendous growth of its distribution: Wikipedia, training videos and websites, virtual universities, games and more.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
Creativity, thinking differently. However, it really should be the balanced skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
Unfortunately, our country is not doing as much in education as we would like. In most schools, there are no additional classes or other after-school learning and many children have to study subjects they are interested in on their own time. Organization of exhibitions, Science Olympiads, conferences and competitions from the Small Academy of Sciences help the situation. Small Academy of Sciences has a very important role in the education of talented children. These are special classes, where youngsters can get more in-depth knowledge of a large number of subjects. These subjects include humanitarian and exact sciences as well as dancing, singing and art. But the biggest attention, of course, is paid to the information technologies. Ukrainian children can learn informatics from the second grade.
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
All students have to know the English language. Without that, students will not be equipped to thrive in the 21st century. The language situation in Ukraine is far from ideal. The problem is that children do not understand and do not want to learn a language at an early age. Most lessons are boring and monotonous. The first thing is to change the approach to language learning. The process should be inconspicuous — one could even say unconscious — but how? For example, avoid language dubbing in movies and use subtitles, as it is done in many other countries.
About Oleksii and Oleksandr Tebenko
Teachers, Methodist Center of Information Technologies in Education, Education Department of Kyiv Obolon District
- Birthplace/Hometown: Kyiv, Ukraine
- Current residence: Ukraine
- Education: National Technical University of Ukraine “Kyiv Polytechnic Institute”
- How many years have you been in education? Six years
- Website I check every day: Several news sites, http://habrahabr.ru — watching novelties in the world of IT and our traveling blog
- Blog url: http://tebenko.livejournal.com
- Favorite childhood memory: Long trips on the train.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Norway (conference) and USA (pleasure).
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? We can say that a smile is a style of our life and we do not need a special occasion or means for a good mood. Recently, the most fun game to play is “Crocodile” (perhaps you have it called something different), we play with friends. The basic meaning is to show some simple word, such as accreditation, without words, by gestures, and the opposing team has to guess it.
- Favorite book: Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Keep a sense of humor, especially about yourself.
- What are your personal interests or hobbies outside of education?
- We are interested in everything new, that’s why we have many interests and they are changing very often. Our main hobbies are traveling around the world, photography, videos, aeromodelling, jogging.
- What’s one piece of technology in your classroom that you can’t live without?
- Now is very difficult to live without the multimedia complex.
- If you had to write something on the chalkboard 100 times what would it be?