Stepping Up is a computer and life skills training program established by Stepping Stones in 2016. By teaching children digital literacy skills common to the work place, such as how to use basic computer applications and internet resources, we help prepare rural Chinese children for their futures after leaving school. Our learning environment emphasizes interaction between students and teachers; while teaching students important skills and concepts of digital literacy, the classes are also designed to unleash students’ creativity, encourage their communication, develop students’ critical thinking skills, and increase their confidence, helping them look towards their future with excitement.
During the COVID-19 crisis, as students were unable to return to schools and were unlikely to have computers at home, the Stepping Up program quickly adjusted teaching methods and moved classes online in response to the situation.
Class content was also changed as a result. Because most students had returned home and did not have other electronic devices other than an Android smartphone at their disposal, the Stepping Up teachers, Teddy and Ben, came up with the slogan of “Explore the World with Just a Smartphone!” to encourage and motivate students to continue learning at home.
As long as students download the Tencent Meeting app, they can participate in online classes to learn more about basic computer skills and knowledge. The adjusted curriculum also teaches students how to use a variety of other smartphone apps when dealing with text, numbers, images, and videos often encountered in everyday life.
To ensure Stepping Up’s high-quality class standards, online classes sizes are all small and last for 30 minutes each session.
Basic Computer Knowledge
“A History of Human-Made Tools”
“The Birth of the Computer”
“The Computer’s Four Elements”
“The Graphical User Interface”
Smartphone Application Activities
Creating a resume via WPS
Creating and editing videos via video editing software
Searching for information via Bing
Organizing thoughts and memories via the XMind mind mapping app
Like our in-person classes, Stepping Up’s online classes remain focused on unleashing students’ creativity and boosting their confidence. As a modern-day tool, computers and smartphones allow students to better express themselves, communicate, develop critical thinking skills, and learn how to solve problems via the computer and the internet.
In addition, we also invite volunteer guest speakers to demonstrate more realistic and everyday usage of smartphone applications. For instance, we invited Andy, an Italian volunteer, to show students how to create interesting and engaging Douyin videos; Andy himself enjoyed the class greatly as well.
While reviewing our own findings from the slew of online classes we have taught in in the past few months, Stepping Up noted that many migrant children’s schools used China’s official online classroom system to teach. However, as migrant schools often lack specialized IT teachers, many schools could not provide adequate support and explanations for the IT lessons given on that platform. To combat this issue, one of Stepping Up’s teachers, Ben, devoted his attention to helping students understand those classes. Using the DingTalk app, Stepping Up teachers coordinated with national class schedules and provided more than 130 third-grade and sixth-grade students with real-time explanations of class content, garnering appreciation and positive responses from the students’ schools and parents.
Currently, with the advent of summer vacation, Stepping Up is working with Top 500 companies and programs to develop a design-based curriculum for students, to be used in classes during summer vacation and the upcoming fall semester. With the help of this program, we hope that students will be able to make better decisions regarding their plans and developments in the future.