What can a teacher do with a cellphone?
What can a teacher do with a cellphone? That’s the question two groups of rural teachers, one from the Vulindlela district of KwaZulu-Natal and one from the Eastern Cape have been exploring particularly in the context of making cellphilms (or mobile phone films) on issues related to their own teaching circumstances. In two- day workshops in April in each of the two provinces, teachers learned more about how they could use their own cellphones to produce documentaries and dramas in their classrooms and communities. In the workshops they learned about key aspects of making films (planning, storyboarding, doing the shoot, being the camera person, director or actor, and working with titles and credits).
More than 85 % per cent of South Africans have access to a cellphone, and while we are used to being bombarded with news reports about the harmful effects of cellphones, in this project funded by the UKZN College of Humanities Strategic Fund and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (“Digital Voices, Indigenous Knowledge and Rural Teachers in the Age of AIDS”) headed up by Relebohile Moletsane (JL Dube Chair in Rural Education) and Claudia Mitchell, (James McGill Professor and Honorary Professor in the School of Education, UKZN) the news is good! Teachers can become film makers in their own classrooms, and as is being discovered in this project, they can also develop new networks with other teachers who are also producing cellphilms. In the first phase of the project teachers are working in their own schools and communities, but in the second phase the teachers from KwaZulu-Natal will be visiting and networking with the teachers from the Eastern Cape who are working with Naydene de Lange, the Chair in HIV&AIDS education at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. This project, implemented through the Participatory Cultures Lab and the Centre for Visual Methodologies for Social Change, and involving a team of researchers (Lebo Moletsane, Naydene de Lange, Jean Stuart, and Claudia Mitchell along with several doctoral students) explores the ways that new technologies make it possible for the perspectives of teachers to be given voice and made visible.