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By Guardian Nigeria
03 September 2022   |   3:17 am
Ify Obidi-Essien is an edu-tech consultant and a Microsoft global training partner who is passionate about driving digital transformation in education through technology solutions for educators...

Obidi

Ify Obidi-Essien is an edu-tech consultant and a Microsoft global training partner who is passionate about driving digital transformation in education through technology solutions for educators.

Her passion to raise tech-savvy teachers can be seen in the activities in which she engages educators on her Facebook community of over 6,700 educators, and the Microsoft certification programmes she organises nationwide.

Obidi-Essien is the chief executive officer of Tech-Savvy Teacher International, an EdTech consultancy firm that offers technology services. Her book, Arise, serves as a springboard for educators globally to become the upgraded version of themselves.

In the last five years, she has spearheaded technology training for teachers in different states in Nigeria that have led to classroom digital transformation across schools.

Her passion to equip African teachers with technology skills and knowledge is also evident in her recent project, the e-learning software application that will automate learning for teachers and empower them financially.

She runs the Beautiful, Intelligent and Godly Girls (BIG) foundation to equip young women with skills and knowledge to live successfully in today’s world. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her drive for technological advancement in the education sector.

Take us through your career journey.
MY 10 years as a teacher have been a mixture of fun, discoveries and opportunities.

Teaching children from different backgrounds and levels has been instrumental to my level of growth. Navigating current trends in education has enabled me to leverage 21st-century technology tools to automate teaching and learning experiences.

To reach more children, it was important to replicate my skills with other teachers. Skills like digital content creation, game-based learning, flipped classroom, animation creation, 21st-century learning design and a host of others. This led to the birth of my educational technology company, Tech-Savvy Teacher International.

Our five years journey has raised thousands of educators from tech-novices to tech-savvy, helping them integrate technology into their teaching and learning thereby maximising class time and improving students’ academic performance. Our vision to be Africa’s best solutions provider in classroom technology integration has enabled us to improve on our value offering on a consistent basis.

As an edu-tech consultant passionate about driving digital transformation in education through technology, how are you achieving this?
Through our practical technology training for educators, we have been able to equip teachers with technology skills and knowledge that transform their classroom practices, taking them from their current level to where they are meant to be, where classroom technology integration is concerned. We work on the mindset of the teachers, helping them to realise that technology integration is possible and easier than they see it to be.

Technology has indeed come to make things better, hence education should be at the forefront when it comes to implementation. Through our result-oriented school consultation programme, we take all stakeholders in a school on a digital transformation journey.

This process assesses the current level of a school in maximising technology at leadership, administrative and classroom levels, working with them in discovering what their future goals are and creating short-term and long-term activities that will help them achieve a successful digital transformation.

In this process, we work with educational stakeholders, which include school leaders, teachers, parents, students and the community. We understand that every school has a unique purpose to fulfil, hence understanding what works in each school’s context is crucial to the success attained.

You hold a tech-savvy teachers’ master class, which is now in its 12th edition. What has been the impact?
Tech-savvy teacher master class has granted educators within and outside Nigeria timely exposure to 21st-century classroom technology tools and a practical step-by-step guide on how to use these tools in meaningful ways. Our training programme is geared towards helping them become globally relevant and 21st century inclined.

The 12th edition of the master class which took place in Dubai in February 2020 helped school leaders understand how to run a flexible teaching method that would help them navigate through difficult times.

The Flipped Classroom model was introduced and participants understood how to integrate this into their classrooms alongside the new technologies discovered during this international exposure. We got so many testimonials during and after the COVID-19 pandemic as to how easy it was for educators to weather the storm brought by the pandemic through digital content that could be accessed offline.

In this year’s edition, we intend to go a step further by not just helping them acquire technology skills but giving them a practical field experience of how the school system works internationally.

Our Microsoft-certified educator programme, which has been running for two years consecutively, has improved the quality of teachers by 70 per cent through rich training and assessment resources, intensive coaching and thorough assessment.

Educators have gained a global orientation on how teaching and learning should be and what it takes to practically embed 21st-century skills in every classroom activity.

As an educationist, what do you consider a major challenge for educators in these recent times?
The inability to bridge the learning gap that exists between the different learners in their classrooms has till today been a challenge amongst educators.

This challenge can be solved when teaching and learning can be controlled. When this occurs, students are able to learn at their own pace, bridging the learning gap which is always a result of the time differences in grasping key concepts.

Another challenge has been the inability of educators to understand the learning style. This misunderstanding has led to a constant clash in communication and learner dissatisfaction. It is important for educators to understand that these generations are digital natives and learn in unconventional ways.

Their learning preference enables them to seek different alternatives to sourcing knowledge. It behoves the 21st-century educator to serve as a facilitator of knowledge, guiding students along their learning explorations.

The need for educators to constantly upgrade their knowledge and skills in classroom technology will help make them an invaluable asset to students, creating opportunities for them beyond the four walls of the classroom.

How viable is an e-learning system in Nigeria?
E-learning has its challenges, especially in this part of the world where there is poor Internet access, epileptic power supply and a digital divide in high proportion.

The pandemic was a wake-up call in our educational system and E-learning produced great results as teachers were compelled to learn software applications and teaching methodologies that they could use to run their classrooms virtually. We are not where we used to be, but there is still a lot of growth to attain.

What is Flipped Classroom Model, how does this work?
The Flipped Classroom is a form of blended learning that merges different styles to increase student engagement and maximize instruction time.

In this model of teaching, students have access to learning materials given by the teacher, which enable them to learn from the comfort of their homes in a self-paced fashion while they engage in practical activities that help deepen their knowledge. I find this approach very transformational and flexible enough to meet the needs of the 21st-century child.

The 21st-century child seeks opportunities to explore innate abilities and apply them in meaningful ways. The flipped classroom model offers them this opportunity. It is important to know that their peers or teacher gives children who are not meeting up assistance. This wouldn’t have been possible in the conventional system.

You have written a book to inspire educators globally. What informed it?
I believe living is all about making an impact in the lives of others. All my life experiences, challenges and successes, it is only noble to share them with others who can learn from them and live successfully.

My book, ARISE is a compilation of 15 inspirational chapters which stem from my personal experiences and key life principles I followed to get to where I am today.

From an assistant classroom teacher to a Microsoft global training partner is a transformation story that could only have been possible through a mindset that supports growth. By reading this book, people are able to imbibe this growth mindset and succeed, regardless of life’s challenges.

You are also passionate about young women through your platform. How are you impacting them?
Through my coaching and mentorship programmes, I have been able to raise women, young and elderly alike to rise above the stereotypes and limitations that confront the female gender.

The B.I.G Girls Foundation which is an acronym for Beautiful, Intelligent and Godly Girls is a platform consisting of young women between the ages of 18 and 24 who are empowered to live successful lives through professional development programmes, self-awareness activities, 21st-century skill acquisition and mind transformation programmes.

How do you get inspiration and stay motivated?
By maintaining a close relationship with God, reading growth-inspired literature, having and abiding by personal values that guide my decision making and modelling the positive attributes of living successes.

What tips do you have for younger women struggling to get a hold of their careers?
Build a positive belief system in yourself, grow your mind to the level of your expected future, affirm who you want to be in the present tense and chase your goals as you’ve only got today.

How have you been able to combine family life and work and still be at your best?
The grace of God has been very sufficient, as I would not have achieved it by my strength alone. My dear husband, my family and friends have been a great support system in the good and not-so-good times. Listening to sound counsel and being purpose-driven have also been instrumental to attaining the right balance.

What is your life’s mantra?
The Upgraded Version; I believe that a man seizes to remain relevant when he stops growing. Being the upgraded version of oneself is the only way to sustain success.

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