My name is Cecilia Estoque. I was born in Pampanga, on Luzon, the largest island of the Philippines. Due to the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo, my parents and I moved to Mindanao, the 2nd largest island of the Philippines. It was in Mindanao where I decided to pursue a career in education to make a difference in the lives of children. I’ve been a teacher now for about 10 years, and I am currently teaching English language and English literature to high school students in a public school at Agusan National High School in Butuan City. There is an average of 60-70 students per class and I handle around 300 students a day!
I believe that experience is the best teacher, and I think it’s essential to open the minds of students to different cultures and perspectives and global issues. If students are aware of the vastness and the reality of the world around them, they are more motivated to become proactive and to participate in creating solutions for local and global challenges. I really advocate for global learning, and I believe that using technology as an educational tool can be really useful in this respect, as ICTs are the cheapest and most convenient tools that enable us to reach out to other parts of the world.
In 2005, a friend told me about the TakingITGlobal website, but she wasn’t very familiar with the tools on it. I browsed through the site, and found that it suited my vision quite well. At the time, I wanted to expose my students to the world, but I didn’t know where, how, and what to do. I found TIG to be a great site for them, as it provided them with the tools to connect and communicate with other students from around the world.
I use TIGed very frequently in teaching. Since I started integrating technology in teaching, I’m often conducting training sessions to principals and other teacher to promote the use of ICTs in classrooms. As a result, when I am out of the classroom, I use TIGed tools to facilitate distance teaching with my students. I post assignments in the virtual classrooms, hold online discussion with individual students, and ask my students to publish their assignments on TIGed for me to read.
I am also very interested in telecollaborative learning projects. My first collaboration was “My Personal Encounter with the Little Prince Project”. Together with Adrian Asis, a teacher at Xavier High School, we came up with the idea of exchanging outputs between the students of our two classes. After the students finished reading “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, they created their own encounter with the Little Prince, just like another chapter from the book, and drew their own planet. Since students based their works on their own identity and culture, this simple project allowed them to share their visions and beliefs. Students were soon writing feedback and sharing reflections on each others’ works, and before long, we were also collaborating with Romanian and British students.
Since that first collaboration, I have also designed other telecollaborative projects for my students. One was called “Awakening of Myths and Legends to Conserve Mother Earth”, and it was a collaboration with Romanian students studying various subjects to advocate for the conservation of trees and nature. I have also created an open project called “Tell the World There is Hope” to create hope avatars from around the world. My latest collaboration was for my students’ final exam. I taught my students good interviewing techniques, and I invited individuals from other countries, most of whom were TIGed members, to participate as interviewees. Using the chatrooms on TIGed, my students were able to interview guests from Malaysia, China, Japan, the UK, Canada, and Nepal. It was really the first time that they experienced speaking in English with people from all over the world, and it really helped to boost their confidence. Even now, my students never stop talking about it!
Integrating ICTs into my teaching has been a challenge, especially in a developing country such as the Philippines, where technology is not widely available and the majority of students in our public school come from poor families. In fact, most of the school administrators don’t understand why technology is important in the classroom and think that computers are only good for computer and science classes. However, I have managed to overcome these challenges through my passion and commitment, and my students are much more open to the world as a result. TIGed provided my students and I with the virtual classroom tools and resources that we needed to link to students from another side of the world. My students look forward to using TIG and other websites to learn more about the reality of life in different corners of the world: they realize that even though we live in a diverse world, there are ways for us to understand and respect each other.