Grey Space (Information Technology)

By: Jeanette Viljoen

During my first lesson of the new academic year I always ask each class to set rules and requirements for our IT lessons. Pupils are allowed to set rules and requirements for me as well. This year two of the three Grade Seven classes suggested that we implement the Google 20% concept. I liked their suggestion and was toying with filtering this suggestion down to the lower grades as well. On Thursday 18 February, I had all three of my Grade Six classes timetabled and had a very technical, practical and hands-on lesson planned and prepped. Unfortunately, I forgot to take into consideration that quite a few pupils were away on Tennis/Cricket Tour and that our lessons would be interrupted by pupils leaving early to perform for the Forest Farm visitors. Very quickly, I realised that my “planned lesson” will not work out as planned and decided to redirect. Thus my Grade Six classes were challenged with the following task:

“One of Google's most famous management philosophies is something called '20% time.' Google encourages employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. Did you know that Gmail came from one of these 20% projects?

The Grade Sevens suggested that we implement this concept in IT this year. So here goes… I would like to call this “Grey Space”.

Today you will have 25 minutes to decide on an IT related topic or question. ANY IT related topic or question. Conduct research, find out more about your chosen topic/question. You are allowed to use Youtube for this research. After finding a few answers to your questions, you will have an opportunity to tell/show your peers what you have discovered.”

I was astounded by some of the topics. Keep in mind that these are topics chosen and researched by 11-12 year olds. Here are a list of just a few:
– How does Siri work?
– The real voice behind Siri is…
– How do banks authenticate credit card details?
– How does an optical mouse communicate with a computer?
– How does a 3D printer work?
– What can I do with a 3D Printing Pen?
– What does Java code look like?
– What does BIOS stand for? What does it do?
– Why are laptop’s hardware pieces more expensive than that for a PC?
– How does a self-driving car work?
– How did Google get all those pictures for Street View?
– How do Green Screens work?

As a teacher, it was difficult for me to allow the learning in my class to take a direction (and distance) of its own on Thursday, but boy was the outcome worth it! I was fascinated by what my pupils wonder about and even more impressed with how they were able to use technology in order to answer their own questions.



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