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ECSPIRT Project First Training Session: The sun lighting up the night.

After the successful launch things at the school are settling into a routine. We want to keep an eye on what the schools are doing with the computers and to assist by training the teachers as we have the time and also to encourage them that the facilities are easy to use and beneficial to them. In other words, over time, we want to influence the routine so that the teachers bring the IT component into their teaching and into their school life.

A further aim is the search for potential champions - people who come forward and volunteer their time and services and are enthusiastic.

With this intention in mind, Ron Wertlen made a trip to the schools on the 14/8 - 16/8. He stayed over at the trading store of Pieter Venter. On this visit it became apparent that the school and community are growing aware of the possibilities and they want to cooperate with each other and make the most of the facilities. For instance:
  • Keenan who works at the trading store is repairing windows at Zwelenqaba after hours as a service to the community. He is being helped by Mcebisi, who also works at the trading store and who was born at Tafalehashi and went to school at Zwelenqaba.

  • Zukiswa Mavonyala (also Zwelenqaba alumnus) and Mcebisi approached Mr. Ziduli to find out under what conditions the community can use the laptops. They both have some computer knowledge and are very keen to complete the Open International Computer Drivers Licence course. They are both potential trainers for the community and we are considering sending them to East London to take part in a trainers' course.
Also it is clear that the routine is already becoming quite healthy:
  • All the schools have been using their computer equipment since the launch. Ron was told this in discussion with the teachers and he independantly verified this by checking logs and seeing the state of the computers.

  • Mr. Yankey has downloaded Geography lecture aids from the Internet and wants to get his students to use them easily. For this purpose, Ron setup a shared area on the server harddisk.

  • All the schools have been logging their electricity usage from the solar panels. All the solar systems are working at full capacity and Voltage levels are high.

Ron held several training workshops.

Workshop: Zwelenqaba
[ The workshop was held in the evening from 5pm till about 7.30pm. Students representing several matric classes were there. as we worked, I was aware that the brightly lit scene in front of me was a direct result of stored solar power - the sun lighting up the night.]

The main aim at Zwelenqaba, was to involve the entire matric class with the computing resource and to familiarise them with the starting and shutdown of the system. Also the learners were sensitized about the different kinds of things they can do with the computers in a Question and answer session. Different rules for the computer lab were discussed.

During the workshop, the learners learnt about the different resources on the VIKO server. The facilities that were explored were:
  • Wikipedia encyclopedia - students looked up topics that they liked
  • VIKO Video lessons - a lot of learners enjoyed these.
  • Typing tutor - several decided they would like to improve their knowledge of the keyboard.
After about an hour of VIKO exploration, several students wanted to express themselves by typing using Open Office Writer.
"There is one thing that I know: every where I go that Jesus love Has never fail me yet up to this far. If I get tired along the way He gives Me power to press on." (Sinazo Sajini)

"What is important in computer is to learn how to type faster and you must practice always when you get into the Lab. When you are able to type very faster I promise you are going to be interested in typing. After typing you can do every thing that will make you interested.

YOU KNOW WHAT? Computer work as stupid thing, that means computer need somebody to operate it , like if you send it to the wall it will hit the wall if you don't control it."(BONGA MAPHIKE)
Teacher Training workshops were held at Kwantshunqe and at Bafazi JSS. Here the teachers' technology-related problems were resolved, mainly problems accessing the network and then there were some questions about the resources available. Several teachers made contributions to the local wikipedia copy.

On Saturday morning, community training took place despite torrential rains. At about 8am my car got stuck in the muddy bog that the road reverts to when it rains. There was not a person in sight anywhere. Then the first pupil for the training course arrived - Zukiswa Mavonyela. Soon the second person Mcebisi Lukozi. I hope to be writing a lot more about these two as time goes on. We started the first chapter of the Open ICDL and discussed the relative sizes of storage media such as DVDs, USB disks and HDDs. It was a very productive session and both showed that they understood and could handle basic computer tasks. Mr. Saiti also arrived on cue at about 9.30. Mr. Saiti is an engaged member of the community who has no idea about computers at all. Zukiswa and Mcebisi practised showing him the basics of the computer.

With the end of the lesson, the clouds parted for a minute and we left the classroom in streaming sunshine. A few passers-by helped push the car out of it's predicament. The wet morning left its mark on me though - I was sick for a couple of days after with an acute flu!

Posted: August 24th 2008 11:57

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