In coordination with its National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC), Global Hands On Universe (GHOU) ran a twelve-week online astronomy course for secondary school physics teachers based in and around Kampala, Uganda. The teachers received online instruction and guidance from professional astronomers and other GHOU-affiliated educators, learning 21st-century astronomy, constructivist pedagogical methods and the skills needed to access astronomical data and control robotic telescope networks.
Using loaned tablet computers and broadband internet access, participating teachers connected with one another and program instructors for twelve weekly four-hour sessions. During each session, participants listened to presentations, watched demonstrations, held group discussions, and engaged in hands-on online activities including astronomical data searching and automated analysis. Between sessions, participants completed homework assignments, posted on Padlet https://padlet.com/icollaboratory/uganda2020. Homework was also collected via email. The learning management system Moodle was used as a weekly repository for Zoom videos, weekly agendas, participant-generated questions and homework. Between sessions, participants kept in touch with instructors and one another using What’sApp. Communication among participants and with instructors outside of class was encouraged, active and currently ongoing. Organizers and coordinators met weekly with program instructors to evaluate progress, adjust the curriculum and modify the schedule based upon the needs of participants.
A total of 18 teachers attended the first workshop and all but a few completed the entire program. A survey of participants shows uniformly positive response of participants to the program, showing gains in teachers’ confidence teaching astronomy and using ICT.