“Whereas I treasure being one, I must also use the opportunity [of being a Microsoft Expert Educator] to empower others to embrace technology and hence revolutionize the world in terms of teaching and learning.” – Hannington Ochieng, Kenya
It’s only been a few months since we last profiled Kenya’s Hannington Ochieng, but what a busy few months he has had! Expert Educator Ochieng was a winner in our first-ever Learn-a-thon at the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona earlier this spring with the project “A New Toy Story: To Infinity and Beyond.”
Ochieng and his teammates Irina Busowsky, Ibolya Strassoa, Gaetan Guironnet, Devon Caldwell, and Saara Hanafi, created a project to foster collaboration between classrooms from Slovakia, Kenya, Indonesia, Argentina, France and Canada. Through the project, these diverse classrooms build gender understanding through toys. “A New Toy Story” has students creating video messages, AutoCollages and tweets (#newtoystory) highlighting traditional girls and boys toys from their countries. Students play with the toys specific to their gender, then trade. They are then encouraged to reflect on the role gender plays in toys (and vice-versa), and to commit these reflections to video using Windows Movie Maker.
The students would ultimately share these videos across the network, and maybe even exchange toys, leading to better understanding of cultural differences and similarities around the globe. Students of varying ages and abilities can participate, making this project both accessible and universal. The project won raves for its creativity, and we’re looking forward to seeing it in action.
Ochieng is inspiring not only because of what he brings to his students, but because of his commitment to bringing other teachers along. Through his efforts, he tells us, “Teachers have since abandoned traditional teaching methods for technology. By realizing the potential of technology, preparation of lessons has eased, teaching has become fun, and teaching records have been made easier.”
Working in a part of the world where resources for students can be particularly scarce, Ochieng sets an example for all teachers. Please enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Hannington Ochieng.
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
I was drawn to education by the fact that both my parents were famous educators and the blood of education freely flows in the family vein. Education is critical to me for it is the foundation of shaping any society and it is education that any notable humanity springs from. Education clearly defines the destiny of any society.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
My favorite teacher still remains my high school teacher of Religious Education, Mr. Tom J. Koile of the famous Maranda High School in Siaya County, Kenya. He made me believe in myself when I found life getting tough, and he inspired me through the Biblical teachings, which he made look and sound very simple. To this day, I vividly remember all his teachings — more so religious ones — though am not sure where he is. In him, I believed and through him, I found a spring board to my future.
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
Honestly, I have grown in leaps and bounds in my teaching profession bagging accolade after accolade. The success stories have opened the gateway in technology, thus enabling me to work closely with the British Council as a digital ambassador and Microsoft as a Global Expert Educator. As a digital ambassador, I have fully embraced ICT in education using it as the major component in teaching and learning.
My students have thus benefited immensely in their research skills as well as in confidence levels on the upward trend. Technology has also helped them develop global citizenry as they are able to fully appreciate diversity in all facets of life. Ultimately, they have soared academically. Through the hub, I have also cascaded trainings of ICT skills and integration to thousands of teachers, education officers, and the neighboring community.
Student behavior has changed to the positive, with student truancy greatly reduced as a result of their craving technology. Positive interaction with parents is now leading to improved harmony in the school and better relationships with education officers who not long ago were seen as stumbling blocks to the teachers. For the good of every one, education has simply moved a notch higher. Currently, Kenya is in the process of introducing one laptop per child for the grade ones, and once again, I am a master trainer for the same. I am going round the country, imparting necessary skills and knowledge to teachers in readiness for this revolution in education.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
All my work is technology-based having gained immensely from Microsoft in Education and the British Council and it would be very foolish of me to be analog.
In your opinion, how has the use of apps, cellphones, and mobile devices changed education? And your work?
Apps have made teaching more real, [and have] injected a new lease on life to teaching and learning. They are meaningful, fun and have brought real experiences to the teacher as well as students. Life and teaching could not have become any easier to me as well as other teachers and students in this era.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
The use of Office 365 has reinvented the wheel for it is so user-friendly, yet encompasses whatever a teacher and student would require.
Is there a 21st centuy skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
I am most passionate about creativity and innovation. These two always seek to explore new ways, new thinking and to me, the more one interrogates the self, the better and the more new and innovative ways emerge — thus no status quo. God was a Creator and He set the pace. Hence, everyone must seek to create something new in this world then shall we acknowledge a mark implanted.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
Surface Pro 2. This is the mother of technology, with all a student would need so readily available and its portability never to be questioned. It has the room for anything.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
Currently, more funds are being pumped to education and more so technology with the one laptop per child being the “in” thing.
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
Politics must be given a back seat in realization that the future of our country lies in educating its citizens the right way – technology-based — and so any politicking in education should be thrown to the dust bin.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
Huge enrollment rates in classes. Over 70 students per teacher is surely untenable.
How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
Embrace technology and realize that the work of handling huge numbers could be made much easier through technology.
How have you incorporated mobile devices/apps into your classroom and have you seen any improvements?
My Surface Pro 2 device comes in handy and end results have improved. I am the darling of all my students through technology!
Describe your most innovative teaching and learning practices and how they are supported by technology?
I did an activity on the need for peace in my country, as well as the world, by playing a game of cricket which has a universal appeal and one guided by the preamble of fairness. Through technology, the event was covered by media tools by students, they played yet learnt at the same time, edited the video, made a PowerPoint, photo stories, auto collage and uploaded their work. We have since used the same to teach several students as well as teachers in the school on the need for peace. The same has been used to sensitize the larger population in the country to their delight.
Describe to us your role as a leader for technology in your school, community or among other educators.
As a leader, I develop digital content to be used, I give guidance on procurement, the use of technology, management of technology in the school, repairs and maintenance of the resources in the school, capacity building of teachers, students as well as education officers and the community at large. I also build capacity to other educators by bringing them to modern and best practices.
What is it like to be a Microsoft Expert Educator?
This is one great experience which comes with a very heavy responsibility. Whereas I treasure being one, I must also use the opportunity to empower others to embrace technology and hence revolutionize the world in terms of teaching and learning. Yet the empowerment is a herculean task, for there are those who resist change but also a huge number readily accepts change though challenged by poverty. Technological resources come at a cost.
About Hannington Ochieng, Digital Ambassador at Westlands Primary, Microsoft Expert Educator
- Name: Hannington Ochieng
- Birthplace: Siaya, Kenya
- Current residence: Nairobi, Kenya
- Website I check every day: British Council Schools Online, Microsoft in Education
- Person who inspires me most: My Mother, Lorine Otieno.
- Favorite childhood memory: I wanted to be famous.
- Favorite book: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Office 365
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Never to give up.