About Me

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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.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

BlackBerry and Laurier: Updates on the Digital Mentoring Project

Over the past six months, the Digital Mentoring Project has evolved and expanded. We have moved from a model in which Canadian and Haitian school leaders interact and mentor each other to one which is more peer-to-peer within Haiti. This means that Haitian educators are connecting and mentoring each other. I continue to be engaged with those involved in the original pilot project but have recognized that the project is more authentic and adaptable when it primarily involves those "on-the-ground." I will continue to partner Canadian principals who want to be involved but want to make the focus more on Haitian-to-Haitian leadership development.

We distributed more than 100 BlackBerry phones and tablets within Haiti in 2013 and anticipate distributing 100 more this year. Our primary focus has been to get devices into people's hands and see what evolves (as opposed to mandating a program or resources). There is a growing research base on this type of intuitive and organic use of digital technology (see for example Huber, 2012).

In 2014, I will be leading data collection with a number of distinct groups:

1. School administrators and lead teachers affiliated with College de la Grace in Pignon, Haiti. We have provided 30 smartphones and 10 tablets to this school. Under the direction of Caleb Lucien, the founder of the school, the educators there have received training on how to use the devices. From January to May, we will be collecting data on how they are using the devices and how this is impacting leadership, teaching, and learning experiences.

2. In May we will distribute 10 tablets and 10 phones to the directors and lead teachers of Regina Assumpta school in Cap-Haitien. We will take some of the lessons learned from the College de la Grace group and apply it in our training and follow-up data collection with the RA group.

3. The above two schools are geographically "tight" networks (i.e. they are schools, one in a small community and the second in Haiti's second largest city). This provides more control and opportunities for training and trouble-shooting. However, it doesn't provide us with a broader geographic and distributed network scope of how the devices may be used. As a result, we have a number of other groups who represent a broader base who will be part of the project in 2014:

a) Projects for Haiti - we had very productive networking opportunities with this partner this past year in Cap and look forward to seeing how their network of school leaders can use digital technology for educator capacity-building.
b) Haiti Association of Christian Schools - private schools represent 85+% of schools in Haiti. This organization has representatives in most of the regions of Haiti. We are supplying 15 phones for the leader in each region and other key staff.

Beyond these groups, we have others across the country who have received BlackBerry phones. We will continue to network with these individuals and groups to collect data around how they are using digital devices.

I remain incredibly grateful to BlackBerry, Laurier, and the broader Waterloo Region community who have donated dozens of phones and tablets to this project.

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