Archive for June, 2010

Training Guide

One thing we are lacking in Rwanda is a guide on how to conduct a “good” training for new trainers. It is hard, when you are new to these learning philosophies, to know how to plan and execute a training, and as the project scales up, a document explaining this would make a big difference. While I am on vacation, I wanted to use some of this reflection time to attempt such a guide. I have a solid draft so far and will share soon. In the meantime, any ideas/thoughts are welcome! And if anyone is aware of such a manual already in existence from another deployment, that would be great to know too.

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Example Lesson Plan from Kagugu

While I have been on vacation, I have been working with Simon, the FANTASTIC teacher from Kagugu on lesson plans.

He just sent me a copy of the lesson plan he created when he used the laptops to teach relative pronoun.

Check it out here:

 THE_LESSON_PLAN

-Julia

Final Technical Survey for Kagugu

Desire and KIE students did some real back-breaking work and put together a full survey of broken laptops at Kagugu School. There are a total of 80 broken laptops with 542 still needing to be reflashed to the newest software build.

kagugu survey O

KIE Students are the best

An important part, or rather, the most important part of the OLPC project is to build sustainability. As part of this goal, last year Pauline, Elianne, Herve, Jean-Paul and I trained 100 university students from Kigali Institute of Education (KIE). These students are studying computer science mixed with education classes. Most are planning to become teachers. The amount they have learned, and TAUGHT US in the few months we have been together has been amazing. And now, that I am on vacation, it is so nice to see many emails from them saying that they have learned so much, and have changed their own ideas about teaching and relating to students, but really all the credit goes to them. They work hard at the schools for hours at a time, some time, with little guidance but they always rise to the occasion. I feel so happy to know that so many of Rwanda’s future teachers are intelligent, kind, wonderful people.

Last Day at ESCAF

Our training time at ESCAF school, with students, during their computer time recently drew to a close. The students now know more powerful ways to use their laptop, making the job easy for the teachers when they begin to take control. As the teachers begin teaching computer time, our group shifts to organizing after school clubs with some teachers, but for our last day with the students, the all shared a 2-month long community project they were working on about ways to improve their community, using the laptop. Here are some photos:

Access to information

Now that I am left with some time for reflection, one topic has most absorbed my thinking: the importance of world-wide access to information as a means to a more peaceful world.

I recently heard a talk from Nicholas Negroponte at MIT, in which he announced this as his focus moving forward. Through this speech, I was able to connect some stories from Rwanda.

Recently, I was at my friend’s house in Rwanda and he told me a story about his neighbor. She is a pastor of a large congregation. Eight years ago she separated from her husband and left Kigali in search of other opportunities. After eight years, she decided to return to Kigali, she wanted to return to her church, and husband. The only problem was that she was pregnant. She knew that if her congregation and husband knew she had strayed they would not welcome her back to their home and to her job. But she came back with a story–she told them all that she, in fact, had been pregnant for 8 years and the baby had chose not to be born until she returned to Kigali to be with her family. While this story is laughable to most, her family and congregation believed her story of adversity and welcomed her back with open arms. The baby is now a few months old (yes, it was finally born) and everyone from her congregation still remarks on the miracle.

My friend expressed frustration with that fact that hundreds could so blindly believe such a lie. But it just reinvigorated my passion about our project. We are now working with many students who now can easily research this story and find out that this story could not be true.

But this access to information can be related to a large, more  important story. The major way the genocide in Rwanda was able to occur was the lack of accurate, non-biased information. Radios and TV personalities used their power to preach hate. Unfortunately, many in Rwanda did not have access to information to draw their own, independent conclusions. Most of the population was rather isolated reachable only by gossip from their neighbors or the voices oozing hate from their radios.

And what can you expect? When you, maybe, have not received an education, or you have received a short one, and you have no access to any information, not even a book, what can you do besides hope that those, more educated, or more vocal, give you the right information….

But, this year, as, hopefully, another 100,000 children will receive their own laptops and access to the unlimited wealth of world information and resources, maybe we can start to consider if something as silly as a woman claiming pregnancy for 8-years, or something as serious as a horrible genocide may become more and more difficult to repeat.

Scratch Projects!

Please visit our Scratch page to check out a compilation of Scratch projects from students in Rwanda:

http://scratch.mit.edu/users/xotime