“I love being teacher. I believe that teaching is more than imparting knowledge – it is inspiring change.” – Elshimaa Ismail, Egypt
Change is never easy. And in the world of education, change can mean many different things, depending on the situation. For teacher Elshimaa Ismail change was not only necessary for the future of education in Egypt, it was also her dream. “I dreamed about changing the traditional type of education,” says Ismail. “I dreamed about effectively employing technology in the educational process and to spread it widely, which contributes to revolutionizing change.”
Change was especially important to Ismail because she, like so many teachers, saw the drop-out rate at her school as a major impediment to Egyptian society. And with her experience as an Expert Educator, and as part of the Microsoft Partners in Learning Network, she believed project-based learning could play a major role in involving her students in solving the problem.
So she and her students led a campaign to understand the reasons why students were dropping out of school. Ismail’s project, “My Profession,” exposed her students to a variety of Arab/Islamic folk art by allowing them to visit different production locations and learn from experts in that field. They then presented what they learned to other students through drawing what they saw using special computer tools. Not only did her project teach her students the essential 21st century skills of communication, collaboration and critical thinking, but it won a major award: 1st place in the “Teacher as Change Agent” category at the recent Microsoft in Education Global Forum.
“I am looking forward to the development of the educational system in Egypt and to changing the curriculum to link it to Egyptian reality,” says Ismail. “I dream about creating an educational system that link our students’ world at school with the external world, making our students more connected with society, and making the world around them meaningful and familiar.”
I hope you enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Global Forum winner, Elshimaa Ismail.
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
I love being a teacher. I believe that teaching is more than imparting knowledge — it is inspiring change.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
My mother was a teacher, and she is my all-time favorite.
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
I worked to change the method of teaching and the use of many active learning strategies that rely mainly on project-based learning, learning-based technology and cooperative learning.
I can integrate technology, and use software such as Windows 8, Microsoft Office 2013 and Microsoft Office 365 (Sharepoint and Lync), Auotocollage and Photostory3, Moviemaker, YouTube, Expression Web, Microsoft OneDrive, Skype, WordPress, Facebook and the Microsoft Educators Network.
I provide support for students to participate in technology in learning, and I also share my experiences so my school colleagues – and teachers in other schools — can learn from my work. I have worked to use the available technological tools in my school to simplify the delivery of information to students. I published the idea of integrating technology in education on a large scale, within my school’s administration and within the provinces of education. I discussed this process with Microsoft Learning Partners.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
My students’ use of technology was necessary and an essential part of the implementation of the project and development of their 21st century skills. In my project, we used technology to solve the main problem, which is the dropout rate. We studied why students left school – both within our own school and in other communities outside of our school.
Within our school:
We turned to learning-centered technology as a strategy for teaching. We demonstrated the activities of the project in many ways. First, we collected data, information and images in all phases of the project using Bing. Students acquired the skill of critical thinking and the ability to build knowledge through analysis and interpretation of data. They used questionnaires and action plans using Word and Excel. They built service work timelines online through the Office 365 calendar, which allowed them to control the flexibility of their schedules. They also used Moviemaker, Photo Story 3, Photosynth and AutoCollage to tell their story visually. They gained creativity and innovation by using Microsoft PowerPoint, also used the OneNote program to demonstrate the steps of their project.
Outside of our school:
Our project turned to the direct broadcast service offered by YouTube, so we could work online to view lessons and explain electronic programs that helped the students.
We also used the Group function on Skype to communicate with teachers in remote areas. Through Skype, we could explain how to implement website marketing products, and ensured that there was continuous communication with each other through Lync. Additionally, the students communicated with the outside community on a very large scale using Facebook and discussions on the Microsoft Educators Network.
The students have gained many skills, including: Knowledge-building and the use of ICT for learning, problem-solving, innovation, self-regulation, cooperation and communicating efficiently.
In your opinion, how has the use of apps, cellphones, and mobile devices changed education? And your work?
Technology has a significant impact on increasing students’ motivation to learn. Technology has not only made the process of learning fun, it has also made it so much more easy to share information broadly. It has changed the features of my classroom environment and has encouraged students to learn both in the classroom, and at home.
Technology has helped to develop my students’ 21st century skills, such as building critical thinking, cooperation and communication. Technology has given my students the way to share their experiences with the wider community.
Technology has also helped my students in the planning process of learning, and setting their own goals, understanding the problems, analyzing the causes, and then finding solutions.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
All of the skills together give students the power to face the challenges of the future.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
Computer and Internet access to provide all the experience of the world.
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
Teaching methods must change, and the integration of technology in education must happen on a larger scale so students can keep up with the times. Online learning must be part of our schools. We must provide a computer for each student, and technology must be mandatory. Teachers must receive the right training in order to teach using technology.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
Students not understanding the relationship between what they study and the real world.
How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
They must integrate the actual issues students face on a daily basis into the students’ activities.
How have you incorporated mobile devices into your classroom and have you seen any improvements?
Using mobile devices and apps makes students:
- Engaged (Engagement with learning situations through interactivity)
- Empowered (Full control from the learner – individualism)
- Entertained (multimedia and rich media)
- Enhanced (enhancement of learning through reinforcements)
- Enriched (Enrich learning through various resources)
This led us to the belief that my students will be more innovative and that will increase performance.
Describe to us your role as a leader for technology in your school, community or among other educators?
I am an experienced teacher with many challenges, most prominently being the lack of conviction in the surrounding community.
I have published a series of exercises for my fellow teachers on active learning and have included the use of modern technology and the training on information technology.
I have trained a large number of teachers and colleagues, including officials in the Directorate of Education. I was asked to follow up the activation of active learning and the integration of technology in the educational process at the level of secondary education. This work has contributed to many of the exercises I created. I have created a blog for active learning and technology in 2011, and have benefited from a great deal of interaction.
What is it like being a Microsoft Innovative Educator?
It is the most wonderful thing to happen in my life. It is where I met myself. I really appreciate that Microsoft has helped me to know the real power inside me.
About Elshimaa Ismail
Teacher, Industrial School for Girls
- Birthplace: Egypt
- Current residence: Egypt- Elmenia
- Website I check every day: Microsoft Educators Network and Facebook
- Person who inspires me most: My mother.
- Favorite childhood memory: Playing with friends.
- Favorite book: Days by Taha Hussen
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology —OneNote, Office 365, Touch Develop
- What is the best advice you have ever received? “Seek knowledge even in China. Using a thousand miles starts by one step.”
- Your favorite quote or motto: “If you always listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been.” – Robert Schuller
For more information on Elshimaa Ismail and her work, please visit these links: