There is something intriguing about a person who defies stereotype. Perhaps a decade or more ago, the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was considered to be a male dominated industry. Today, many women have jumped,feet first into this industry and have been making their own mark as innovators. Dr Frithi Herbert is one such woman. Dr Herbert has even taken her skills a step further in marrying her initial career choice as a Business graduate with that of her true love teaching. Her main area of concentration is ICT.
Originally from India, Dr Herbert began her career as an educator at the prestigious Cambridge High School in Abu Dhabi approximately ten years ago. She started as a computer technician but quickly progressed to the role of an IT teacher. She is currently the Digital Coordinator for the school and teaches mainly boys from grades 7 to 13.
Her keen intellect, business savvy and audacious personality have ultimately led to her being recognised for her innovation in the classroom. As a result of her diligent work with her team of teachers and students, The Cambridge High School was recently nominated for the GESS award for Best Use of ICT/E-Learning in the Classroom.
Dr Herbert stands at a petite height and offers a quick smile to all whom she interacts with. She is bold, inspiring and is first in line to undertake a challenge. She epitomises the Shakespearean quote from the play, A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, “though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Why did you become a teacher?
I love teaching because each day you get the opportunity to learn new things. I also love children. I don’t find teaching to be very challenging. Adequate lesson planning and preparation coupled with the implementation of tasks designed to challenge students, will get them to focus more on the work and eliminate distractions.
Who inspires you most?
My dad inspires me the most. He is a Financial Chartered Accountant. He is a very hard worker and was the inspiration that I used while I was studying for my doctorate. He has always encouraged me to do the work that I do from my heart. This has guided a lot of my decisions and has led to me finding happiness and satisfaction in my job. I am very happy here and have achieved excellent results from my students and for the school.
What are some of the steps that you are taking to advance your career?
I love studying new and innovative things. Now I am planning on introducing my students to Python programming. This is a bit challenging for their standard but I am going to train them. This means that I also have to know and understand the programme very well. I am constantly training and learning more about my field. I am also certified in Certified Training Professional (CTP) and I am International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) qualified.
We recently read about your ICT project which was nominated for the GESS Education Awards, tell us a bit about that project.
I started that project with my year 8 boys. I had asked them to design a website. I placed the boys in groups. One group had a boy from Kenya, one from Romania and the other from India…they called the project KEROIN which is an amalgamation of the three countries’ names. They morphed images of themselves as the president and other important figures of this virtual country that they created. Their website highlighted different aspects of KEROIN culture, traditions and values. Another group of boys did a well designed website on Brazil for the world cup that allowed for the purchasing of tickets. The research, coding and interlinks that they did, took a while but the overall result was good. What really stood out for me was their creativity. In that same class, there was another boy called Mihai Leolea who created a game called Eat The Smiles. The software that he used was Scratch Game Maker. The game is designed with three progressive levels of play; easy, medium and complex. He configured it so that as the player advances to the next level it becomes more challenging and the scores change.
Another student, Mohammed Mehraj created a website for our Model United Nations. He did it in Adobe Dream Weaver. There is Rajind Karunaratne who did all our video editing in FCP (Final Cut Pro for Mac Systems) and links. He also does Graphic Design work for our school magazine.
Our Grade 5 students have also created PowerPoint online quizzes with sound and videos. They did this under the guidance of Miss Frincy Francis, the Head of our ICT department. We mainly offered guidance in the initial stages and during the project so they stayed on track but they did the work themselves.
What were some of the surprises that the project revealed?
All of these students surpassed my expectations. They were very creative and committed to the work.
How can other teachers implement such a project?
An important point is that each teacher should be able to use IT devices successfully in their lessons across the subject areas. Once they are familiar with the programmes and software available to them, they can then find creative ways to employ the use of videos, photography and text in various projects. At Cambridge High, we give all our teachers training as soon as they come to us.
Share with us three tips or strategies for helping teachers to integrate ICT in their daily lessons.
Training is paramount. The first thing is to get initial training to familiarise themselves with the technology and its proper use. After this, workshops are required to ensure that they are using the devices properly and effectively. The main thing is to initiate them in using the technology for videoconferences so that they can interact with teachers in other schools. Once new technology is available, teachers should be trained on how to use it.
What is the best advice that you have received?
The best advice I got is from my dad. “Don’t expect the reward; be a hard worker.” He always inspires me.
Do you have any new projects?
Yes. Our Principal, Mr Peter Lugg will be leaving us at the end of this school year. I am working on a short documentary of his time here over the years as a memento for him using FCP.
After a short, but insightful interview with Dr Herbert, I do believe that her next project in the school will be another successful project for The Cambridge High School.