It is undeniable that Kalpana Kishorekumar has a passion for learning. Her extensive qualifications are testament to this fact: two bachelor’s degrees, two masters, a postgraduate certificate in teaching and an ongoing PhD.
Her interest lies in the intersection between education and technology. ‘In the past, it was all chalk and talk,’ she says, by way of explanation. ‘The children I teach today are growing up in a different era.’ Rather than shunning technology, she is playing her part in embracing technology and the benefits to education that it brings.
Currently Mdm Kishorekumar teaches at Chung Hwa Middle School. As the Head of Humanities, a secondary teacher of social sciences and geography, she has brought change to the way children are taught these subjects. She describes this as equipping them with 21st century skills, skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication which cannot be taught by rote learning, but is now possible through technology. Through a series of projects, she has found a way to enable the more passive members of the class to participate in lessons: by engaging in class-wide projectbased learning.
She shows us a video of her students interviewing tourists outside the Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar. Her students are only thirteen, yet they handle the camera, interviewing and creation of the video all by themselves with much confidence. This video is one amongst several videos that have been made for a project on how to promote tourism in Brunei in line with His Majesty’s Vision for 2025, promoting diversification from the oil and gas industry being one of the stated goals. This project led to a nomination for the title of ‘Microsoft Expert Educator’ – educators who work closely with Microsoft to advise on how to integrate technology into the curriculum in a pedagogically sound manner in order to improve student learning and also act as advocates for how Microsoft technology can improve learning. As a result of this she was 56 INSPIRE invited to attend the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona, Spain this year alongside four other Brunei-based Microsoft Expert Educators.
The conference was nothing short of inspiring, a series of team-building exercises and presentations given by the delegates and speakers on their projects, all done with Microsoft programs. Microsoft has moved beyond Word, Excel and Powerpoint, their operating systems now boasting a host of programs that perform a manner of functions: One Note, for example allows her to make interactive worksheets for classes by recording instructions for the students, embedding video files and images into the document. One Drive enables her to access her files from any device with the program installed, allowing her to prepare in advance of a class by downloading videos and other interactive content for her students to view.
“Teachers who touch lives do not do so based on lessons with direct instruction or because they motivate their students to think at a higher level. Rather, these teachers inspire because they touch every aspect of their students’ lives.”
These programs, however do not just impact Mdm Kishorekumar’s mode of teaching. She has introduced these programs to them and taught them how to make use of it in their projects. Her students are able to collaborate by accessing files on One Drive, and One Note project files update in real time, enabling them to see the changes their classmates have made. In addition to this she has conducted Skype sessions with another Microsoft Expert Educator based in the Czech Republic in order to encourage crosscultural awareness between students and enhance their communication skills. This is but a first step in the changes to the students’ learning at Chung Hwa Middle School. Next year the school plans to allow their students to bring devices to school, as part of a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ initiative.
With Mdm Kishorekumar at the helm, advocating a more techno-centric approach to education, the future looks bright.
If you are in education, register to become part of Microsoft’s Partner in Learning program and gain access to free tools and tutorials on new ways of utilising technology in the classroom at: http://www.pil-network. com/. This article is proudly brought to you in collaboration with the Microsoft Expert Educator Program.