The rewards of professional development – Linda Foulkes, South Africa

Linda Foulkes has always loved teaching young students, but she’s found even higher rewards in helping her fellow educators master new technology.

This Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert is passionate about the value of learning new technology, whether that’s encouraging students and teachers to pursue technical and professional certifications, or helping educators take their teaching to the next level with easy-to-use tools.

“What motivates me is my passion for the training of Microsoft technologies and the importance of certification,” Foulkes says. “If I can make a difference to just one person a day by showing them something they did not know which could benefit their teaching and learning, and make this easier and simpler, I feel a sense of achievement.”

After working for Elkanah House for seven years as an educator, Foulkes became Area Manager, Trainer and Assessor in the Western Cape for NetLEARN Update at the beginning of 2015. This position has allowed her to spread her love for using technology in education to more schools, colleges, corporations and universities.

Says Foulkes, “I have discovered my passion is even deeper than before…teaching educators and learners how to integrate technology into lessons and spreading my knowledge and benefit of certifications such as Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) and Microsoft Certified Engineer (MCE) within the educational and corporate stream for students, teachers and the workplace.”

One tool Foulkes is especially passionate about is OneNote, which she helps teachers use to organize lessons, collect resources and set up class activities. She’s also an active user herself, leveraging the tool to curate and share resources that teachers can use to integrate technology into their lessons.

“In explaining the motivation behind my MIEE Learning Activity, The Potential of OneNote in the Classroom, my role is a supportive and training one,” she tells us. “OneNote presented the perfect opportunity to come alive in the lives of those around me by using it as a shared, collaborative, resource notebook for teachers and students. The benefit of compiling this activity was extremely rewarding, not only within my own school, but across the globe, helping students and teachers integrate technology into the classroom.”

Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Linda Foulkes.

What inspired you to become an educator?

My interest in technology and training originated from my interaction and support with the undergraduate and postgraduate students whilst working at UCT for eight years. This was during the old DOS days. Eight years later, I joined the corporate training world, working for CompuTeach (training division for PricewaterhouseCoopers).

My mother, Wendy, was an excellent Expert Trainer and a Microsoft Certified Professional. She inspired me so much as we shared knowledge and the passion for training and developing courseware. This is where I really mastered Microsoft applications and was hooked on the ability to integrate these skills into the classroom.

Some years later, I joined Parklands College of Education, where I was afforded the opportunity to be directly involved with staff training, certification, and Intranet design and development. This is where I found my passion…teaching educators how to integrate technology into lessons but at the same time being involved in management, training and student engagement.

At Elkanah House, I started TeachMeets, iPadMeets, trained high school students for the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification, and was responsible for staff training. Being a tutor teacher to the same group of girls over a four-year period benefitted me enormously pedagogically and personally.

What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?

Every moment of every day dealing with children in an educational environment, as well as being able to support those teachers interested in changing the way they impart the curriculum using technology as a vehicle to achieve subject outcomes.

My favorite saying to teachers who ask me, “Is there an app for that?” My reply is, “Yes, it’s called Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, Excel…”

One of the most proud moments was after training students over a period of time for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification and they achieved high scores. The most awesome moment was when two of my students, Shaun and Tshimo, were selected to represent South Africa at the Microsoft Office World Championships in Washington during 2013, and again in 2014 when four of my students (Jema, Shaun, Kathrine and James) were selected to represent South Africa at the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship and the ACAWC in Disneyland.

Again this year, and the most awesome of moments was when a student of mine, whom I taught at Elkanah House, was selected to represent South Africa in Dallas, Texas and won 3rd Place in the World for MOS Word 2010.

Watching the children experience and grow through the hard work of preparing for the certification and competing against each other and nationally, the semifinals and then the international experience and exposure was so valuable.

Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?

As a current MIE Expert, I believe that the potential of OneNote for Education is unlimited. OneNote has so many benefits and most schools do not even know about this hidden gem and its power! OneNote is a powerful tool for connected classrooms as it can be used to provide tutorials for subjects in and out of the classroom, it can be used as a multimedia note taker and as a subject resource to share live with teachers and students.

It is a very useful tool for me to share in the classroom with children and when preparing for subject-related lessons. The tools are thoroughly researched and tested on all platforms and devices, so the work is done for the busy teacher. I update the resource with my conference talks, webinars and TeachMeets and share the same notebook at conferences as a resource.

In most instances, teachers and students are using a huge range of different devices. It is necessary to find a manageable work flow which embraces teaching and learning for all involved and in consideration of bandwidth and other constraints which teachers face today. OneNote played an important role in empowering teachers to actively use ICT in the classroom as I was able to show how one could plan meaningful lessons using the Microsoft Office tools which they were already familiar with and which students could access on a range of devices.

Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?

I believe that anyone is able to find learning Microsoft technologies easy. The key ingredients are a passionate trainer who is able to impart their knowledge without making the “learner” feel threatened or uncomfortable, who can provide support and encouragement, and definitely someone who relates to being on the receiving end of training.

I would also like to see schools use the hidden gem called OneNote, which is readily available and waiting for content and interaction on their desktops.

MicrosoftMeets for Education should be introduced as the most exciting and informative event of the year, creating awareness for technologies and certifications. And spend time on all the details –invite teachers, principals and IT staff to experience the brilliance of the use of free tools and educational resources from the Microsoft Educator Network.

And, my most favorite need is that the very much wanted Surface Pro is brought into SA!

So what motivates me the most is the need to show teachers that they have the technology in front of them [Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OfficeMix, OneNote, Access, etc.] and they need to teach the children “workplace ready skills,” which are seriously needing attention [balance] due to the loss of important skills because of the use of devices in the classroom.

In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future?

I’m excited to see the MIE Expert program continue to grow, and encourage more teachers to enter this valuable network of technology experts. I hope that school leaders and IT departments start to see the benefit, and include certification for staff and students, such as the Microsoft Office Specialist and Microsoft Certified Educator Certifications, as both are the foundation for a successful technology project.

About Linda Foulkes

Area Manager, Trainer, Assessor for Western Cape, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert

NetLearn Update

Cape Town, South Africa

  • Blog URL:
  • Birthplace: Cape Town, SA
  • Website I check every day: There are so many important sites I check every day –, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft Educator Network, Microsoft Virtual Academy, Yammer, SchoolNet…
  • Favorite childhood memory: Having tea and cake at my aunt’s home every Sunday afternoon and watching her whilst she made professional cake decorations. Also, winning the Gold Freshwater Lifesaving Medallion and being part of the Tom Cat Swim Squad.
  • Favorite book: I have a passion for writing Microsoft courseware and have published five Microsoft Office books – therefore I would definitely have to be very boring and say that I only have time for and love to develop and read about new Microsoft technologies on the web and consume all I can from websites, blogs, and e-books, as well as spending time evaluating courseware.
  • Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Oh, my gosh, do I have to choose? Not possible…Office Mix, Sway, Office 2013 Professional, Skype…everything Microsoft!
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? Keep calm and bake cupcakes – baking is my hobby and my break away from technology. The best advice I received was from my mother, who constantly encouraged me to be true to myself, and reach for my goals. I think the most important, though, was her influence with regard to morals, norms and values and the importance of family.
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3 Responses to The rewards of professional development – Linda Foulkes, South Africa

  1. mokhudu says:

    This is really inspiring. Well done Linda

  2. Linda Foulkes is the most amazing educator and an absolute inspiration. Every child and educator that she comes into contact with benefits from her extensive knowledge and passion. We are privileged to know her.

  3. paul taban dombo says:

    really a education is civilization . event education a world wider every day discover new things and develop

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