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New Innovation Hub will offer students in Zimbabwe technology-focused learning

This winter, the Jamf Nation Global Foundation and the global nonprofit MATTER will create a fourth MATTER Innovation Hub for students in areas experiencing extreme poverty: this time in Harare, Zimbabwe. The Harare location will join Uganda and Haiti in offering engaging, enriching and personalized technology-focused learning for more than a thousand students.

Together with two centers in Haiti, these five locations offer technology-enabled active learning to better prepare young people for 21st century success. The ultimate goal is for students to learn the skills that will allow them to work from anywhere, benefiting themselves and their communities with income from the global economy and global workforce.

There are three types of MATTER Innovation Hubs:

  • Pod: a converted shipping container that is sustainable and self-contained with internet access and solar power.
  • Station: a single unit active learning table in a location with stable power and internet connections.
  • Center: a fixed building with two rooms: one side an active learning innovation setup and the other a library with alternative seating arrangements to encourage active learning.

The program

Not simply a skills-based program, these hubs seek to engage students and teachers in technology-enabled active learning, which is a model for how industries are currently working such as industrial, higher education and technology. This educational model encourages teachers to moderate and encourage student learning, discussion and exploration.

This allows students to learn through participation, trial and error.

Jamf employees, the Jamf Foundation, and other sponsors have worked with MATTER to offer the students the technology they need.

"First," says David Saltmarsh, a global education strategist at Jamf and lead on these projects, "We give our product to these facilities: Jamf School or Jamf Pro, whichever is appropriate. We provide an implementation team that goes onsite that sets it up, and we provide continual professional development over time."

Together with some Jamf Foundation contributions and other donors’ support, the hubs are stocked with iPads and Sphero education donates robotic balls that follow students' coding commands, and LocknCharge provides storage. Generally speaking, most facilities have 25 iPads for 250 students, which means there are up to 10 students sharing each iPad. This requires reliable management.

This management is possible because Apple allows MATTER to have an Apple School Manager instance, which is ordinarily not extended to the countries in which the hubs reside, and Jamf and MATTER are able to bring the educational services to locations around the world that would otherwise not have them available. This means that teachers can manage the school's devices through Apple Classroom and the Jamf Teacher app.

Teacher education

All teachers involved in these hubs enroll in the Apple Teacher program and earn Apple Teacher certification, as well as learning about cooperative learning techniques and the technology-enabled active learning model.

This new model can involve a leap for teachers, who are faced with changing focus from high-stakes exams toward the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will produce workers capable of creating innovative products, ideas and solutions.

Teachers learn how to function as facilitators modeling the behaviors of questioning, experimenting and exploring as a way to learn. "These hubs are an incubator of sorts for teachers to practice and get more comfortable," says Saltmarsh. "That’s what the professional development is focused on. We provide training on how to shift the instruction toward active learning."

Future of the program

Currently, these programs primarily serve students in the lower elementary grades, but the long-term goal of these hubs is to serve students in all grades, through high school and even beyond.

"The hope is ultimately to give them skills in critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity that could prompt them to go on to larger things," says Saltmarsh. "Give them marketable skills and the recognition that with these key skills, they can go on to more." He would also like to offer post-secondary education to students eventually.

The premise of the program is that anyone with a high-quality computing device and internet can learn anything, from any location. In a short period of time, this person could take an intensive coding course and get a job in development. Someone else could become a web designer. Apple currently has a Learn to Code curriculum that can take a student all the way up to developing iOS apps, for example.

A concentration of individuals with coding, problem-solving and hardware tech skills could take a town in Haiti, for instance, from a subsistence-living area to a thriving tech center serving global clients in just a few years.

"We aren’t there yet," says Saltmarsh, "but that’s where we can see it going."

How the MATTER hubs help Jamf

As Jamf staff are consistently spending time working with our products at the classroom level, it keeps the company on top of what’s going on in education in the most needed areas. The perspective helps support Jamf's education strategy and to improve the product as well as the ways they speak about the product.

The program's pods, stations and centers are currently located in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Senegal and Haiti.

The hub center is slated to open on December first.