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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Haitian and Canadian Master of Education Students: More Similar Than Different

Tonight we were able to connect a group of my M.Ed. students at Laurier and two recent M.Ed. grads from a program I teach in Haiti. Using Skype video (a first for me in Haiti to have a pretty good connection) we had a great time of discussion about roles and responsibilities.

It was interesting to hear some differences in their experiences. For example, it's very uncommon for students to live in residence in university in Haiti (mainly, because not many residences exist!) whereas this is a common experience for Canadian students.

However, there were lots of similarities in the conversations. Tony, a person responsible for curriculum development in schools in western Haiti appreciated what Jenni (elementary teacher in Kitchener) said regarding integrating subjects. He made a connection with what he is trying to do with integrating subject material (natural disaster preparation) across subjects.

I was most struck by the similarities in areas we didn't discuss. For example, the two Haitian teachers came to my guest apartment on their own time (after a long day of classes) and the four Canadian teachers came to the university on their own time (after a long day of work). Why? So they could develop a better understanding of each other. That shows commitment and interest. I love that!

I have seen lots of fancy and expensive pieces of equipment meant to help with video-conferencing and supporting distance education (yes, even in Haiti I have seen video-conferencing rooms and SmartBoards)...

...In a one hour conversation using free software, I think we were able to support some valuable connections which are worth more than the fancy equipment.

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