Popplet People: Sheeba Ajmal, Technology For A Cause

"technology has the power to transform the lives of individuals"How to fund the digital revolution that has taken place in all sectors of education over the last twenty years has been the pressing, constant question for many administrators. Quality technology costs as does its implementation and training. Even with Education Technology suppliers such as Popplet offering substantial discounts to institutions there exists huge financial disparities at a local and global level. Ensuring that learners are provided with equal learning opportunities seems like an impossible task – unless you’re Sheeba Ajmal that is.

“I firmly believe technology has the power to transform the lives of individuals.”

Sheeba founded the Pakistan based organization Technology For A Cause – Enhancing Skills Empowering Kids, which works with children in the most challenging economic conditions harnessing the power of the global nature of new technologies to level the playing field when it comes to equal opportunity learning. Her work first came to our attention when she shared some of her student’s Poppplet creations on Facebook. We got in touch with Sheeba to learn more about her work.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
My name is Sheeba Ajmal and I live in Peshawar, Pakistan with my family which includes my two younger sisters and my father. I’ve been working with Education Technology for almost thirteen years. I firmly believe technology has the power to transform the lives of individuals, provided it is used effectively, at the right time and place, and for the right purpose. My blog reflects my sheer passion to work with education technology.

I have worked with The Beaconhouse School System, one of our country’s most prestigious education institutions and I have been employed in various capacities from being a teacher, classroom teacher, teacher trainer and regional assistant manager for education technology. It was a wonderful experience of 12 years coupled with my amazing 10 years as a student at the same institution. I have had the opportunity of teaching a variety of subjects to students including Computer Studies and Applied ICT. I am also a Cambridge certified trainer and I train teachers in the use of technology.

 Tell us about Technology For A Cause.

Technology For A Cause is a voluntary project initiated in December 2016 to equip underprivileged kids with numerous skills like numeracy, reading, IT etc. using both traditional and technology-based resources. The project aims to provide quality education experiences to children which are in line with  United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4:  Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, by engaging kids in numerous projects and interactive activities.

“This project is for kids who deserve the same quality education experiences extended to kids in elite schools. In Pakistan there is no standardized education system, there is a huge difference in the education given to kids at private and public schools. The project is a step towards decreasing the gap.”

At the moment we are active in two schools: The SOS Children’s Village (an orphanage) and The Ran’aa Child Welfare Foundation (a school for street children), in Peshawar, Pakistan. Kids are being given the opportunity to connect globally with their peers through various online projects. Both schools have recently participated in a Global Art Exchange Project with OneWorldClassrooms. The students from SOS Children’s Village are also collaborating online with a US-based school on a iEARNs International Book Club project.

Students are using various technology resources including Flipgrid, iEARN, Popplet, Mathletics, ABCya and many others which have helped them greatly improve their skills, helping them connect and act globally.

What do you like about Popplet?
We have used Popplet for different project activities. The reasons why I personally like the software are:

  • The easy to use interface
  • Accessibility
  • No tutorial needed
  • Easy to add, edit, insert images inside a popple
  • You can draw an image inside a popple
  • You can add content from YouTube and Vimeo
  • You can export in different formats such as pdf and png etc.

How have you been using Popplet with your work with Technology For A Cause?
I often use Popplet for mind mapping activities with kids. It helps them visualize their thoughts in a more meaningful way, like when they were working on the following iEARN projects:

  • For the Global Food and Tell project, the students were exploring Noodles around the world, Popplet was used to categorize noodles by country.
  • In the My Name Around the World project, kids used Google to find the meaning and origin of their names and used Popplet to organize all the information.
  • And with the Talking Kites Around the World project, kids jotted down their thoughts and ideas about their hopes for the future – “a peaceful world” –  in Popplet.

What have been the greatest successes for Technology For A Cause and for you personally?
As far as Technology For A Cause is concerned, being able to register and connect kids at both the SOS Children’s School and Ran’aa Foundation for Children through OneWorldClassrooms is an achievement that couldn’t even be imagined a year back.
Another is collaborating with kids and their teacher at The Lafrancis Hardiman / Martin L. King Jr. Elementary School in New York through the International Book Club project. I look forward to many more such collaborations with schools in the future.

Personally, being able to share and present the whole project idea at the iEARN International Conference in Morocco in July 2017. I consider it a breakthrough because it helped unlock doors to many future opportunities. Since then we have been working on several global education projects with iEARN. The project was shared at the 3P learning conference in August in Lahore as a success story, and recently sharing the experience at the GEC 2017 which led to connecting with OneWorldClassrooms.

What’s next for you and Technology For Cause?
I plan to engage more kids at underprivileged schools through Technology For A Cause and connect them to their peers globally, giving them the opportunity to become global citizens. We have recently connected two schools in Peshawar through OneWorldClassrooms to a Global Art and Exchange project and I plan to get kids at both schools engaged with other global peers using Empatico.
At the personal level, I am currently working on a Google Certification and I look forward to using Google Apps like Google Classrooms, Google Hangouts etc. in the future to connect more kids at underprivileged schools globally because I think Google has a lot of potential for global learning opportunities.

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Are you part of an organization like Sheeba’s, using Popplet and other technologies to connect globally and provide fairer, equal opportunities to children? What are you doing? We would like to hear from you? Share your experiences with the Popplet community on Twitter, and on our Facebook page.

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