The Road to Transformation

It’s been almost eight years since the launch of Islands in the Cloud - a project to bring all the Philippines Department of Education employees - at that time, around 585,000 users - on to the cloud, and give them a @deped.gov.ph email address through G Suite for Education.

At that time, the concept of a free email service for over half a million users was unheard of. It was an ambitious project that required a lot of effort to implement, and was fraught with issues on people, geography, accessibility, and connectivity. It required multiple Google partners, weeks of living in a suitcase, and a ton of patience. We trained teachers when the internet was still so slow. We trained ICT coordinators when the role still wasn’t an official role. We were there at Ground Zero when the first email to all these employees was sent.

It was a historic moment.

At that time, I’m sure a lot of us thought, this is it, this is the beginning of a transformation that will spark innovation in all our schools.

That was eight years ago.

That project sparked many similar movements in schools. The international schools were ahead of the game in that they follow international standards of going more web-based, and the other private and public schools had a different approach but was quite similar in their vision to digitize. In the past years, we saw a rise in device purchase in schools, often as a result of gaining competitive advantage and market share. We started to see more and more education speakers stressing the need for more professional development. We agreed and got excited.

We heard it spoken in seminars and conferences: Pedagogy First, Technology Second

“Digital technology has several features that can make it much easier for teachers to pay special attention to all their students.”

— Bill Gates

We saw that mantra written in books, stressed by every edtech consultant worth their salt. We need to focus on the learning. We need to know why we are doing things, before we choose the how of it and before we choose the tools we will use to implement it.

And as much as we want to say that we are more technologically advanced now, the truth is, we still see teachers scared of using technology. We still see teachers going to professional development seminars just to get the necessary CPD point to get recertified as a teacher, and not to really learn. We see professional development providers keen on giving certificates, but not keen on ensuring that the teachers have something to takeaway, or implement immediately in their classrooms.

We believe our teachers need all the help they can get.

We thought, that after leading that project eight years ago, that by this time, we might be ready to move on to something new. However, we find the opposite to be true. The more technology becomes available to our students, the more our teachers need assistance and support. 

This came to the fore during COVID, and the gap in edtech professional development became painfully apparent.

So we are opening this new venture. Gtech.Guru. To bridge the gap. To nurture our teachers to be leaders and coaches in their own schools, and to really see true transformation happen.

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Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

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