ECSPIRT Project Archive
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. With this intention in mind, Ron Wertlen made a trip to the schools on the 14/8 - 16/8. is report:
1) 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.
2) 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 independently 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.
Learners Workshop at Zwelenqaba SS:<br><br>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 made aware of 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: <br><br>* Wikipedia encyclopedia - students looked up topics that they liked <br><br>* VIKO Video lessons - a lot of learners enjoyed these. <br><br>* Typing tutor - several decided they would like to improve their knowledge of the keyboard. <br><br>After about an hour of VIKO exploration, several students wanted to express themselves by typing using Open Office Writer. <br><br>"There is one thing that I know: everywhere 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) <br><br>"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 everything 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) <br><br>
Teacher Training workshops at Kwantshunqe and at Bafazi JSS: <br><br>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.
Ronald Wertlen handed in a travel fund application to the Cooperation Framework on Innovation Systems between Finland and South Africa (COFISA), a programme for the enhancement of the South African National System of Innovations (SANSI) to promote economic growth and poverty alleviation. The purpose of the COFISA Seed Fund (CSF) is to support and motivate actors involved in the SANSI to network, gain international experience, and influence others to create long-term relationships for the development of the SANSI.
Ronald Wertlen’s flight to Europe will be paid as well as regional European travels to Belgium (for the foundation), Helsinki (for a meeting with the Helsinki School of Economics and COFISA), Munich and Luzern (to present the VSA, the ECSPIRT Project and awareNet at the schools).
Three European schools have invited us to have a meeting and to present the VSA, the ECSPIRT Project and the awareNet software at the schools for possible partnerships with our African schools, namely
the Phorms School (Christine Werthmann) in Berlin
the Rudolf-Steiner-School (Stephan Flügge) in Munich
the CFE (Martin Rast) in Luzern.<br>Further, the VSA is invited by Prof. Robert Tolksdorf of the Institute for Computer Science of the Free University of Berlin to establish a relationship between the VSA and the students of the course “Kundenprojekt” (http://www.ag-nbi.de/lehre/07/P_WEB/) for development and programming work at the awareNet software.<br>Thank you very much for your interest! We are looking forward to the meetings.
Ronald Wertlen met with the Nelson Mandela Institute (on 09/09/08) to discuss training and content synergies. NMI is very interested in offline content sources, to which we have access through our own research on the Internet and through the University and other partners. The Learnthings content costs R2000 per rural school for eKhaya ICT (as of Oct 2008, prices may vary).
<br>Three NMI schools near Bizana (near Port Edward) are looking for electricity and any assistance they can get. NMI is coordinating the renovation of these utterly dilapidated schools. They are interested in solar power and computer labs of course!
We have started working on the integration of the ECSPIRT and Zwelenqaba projects into the Siyakhula Living Lab 1,2 - a living laboratory supported and maintained by the universities of Fort Hare and Rhodes with several other sponsors including THRIP (a Dept of Science and Technology project) and COFISA. This is cemented in the application for the Siyakhula Living Lab to the European Network of Living Labs with the inclusion of the 3 schools at Tafalehashi/Kwalini.
The Second ECSPRIT training trip took place on the 8th Oct. The programme is proceeding very well.
In the meantime, 57 community members have applied for training with our two community trainers Zukiswa and Mcebisi! The records were kept in duplicate, at the school and with the trainers. It is encouraging to see this kind of cooperation going on. The community training should start in October or early November. At first simple basics will be taught - caring for the computer and typing lessons. SchoolNet and eKhaya ICT ideas will be incorporated at a later point (see below).
Mrs Iwaai, Mr Ziduli and Mrs Mashalaba and in front of the renovated class rooms. The learners in the the renovated class rooms.
Ronald Wertlen met with two representatives of the Eastern Cape Department of Education (EC DoE) - Sindi Mashalaba & Funeka Jwaai are integrated quality management system (IQMS) coordinators. They were very happy with the improvements at the school, e.g. the renovated class rooms, and with the computer labs! They also knew about the computer training programme of the DoE and mentioned that they are responsible for organising this for the school. They also promised to profile the project at the Premier's office. They have also made brief contact since then and so we expect finally some positive engagement by the DoE.
We have made very good contact with the SchoolNet network, who are training community trainers. In the first round they only want expert computer users, so Mr. Yankey (HoD, Geography teacher and expert user at Zwelenqaba) is going to Johannesburg from the 10th Dec to the 12th Dec to learn about training the community. He will pass this knowledge on to the community trainers. We are still looking for further training for the trainers.
Teacher training took place at all 3 schools. Advanced concepts in OpenOffice were explained. It was explained that the Rhodes University certified training, support and maintenance applies only to labs using Linux and Open Source software. The teachers requested that the computers be dual-bootable. This is quite a lot of work which will need to be done soon (while a clean image can be gained from one of the computers).
Mr. Yovu installed Encarta on several of the computers. The multimedia content appeals better to the learners than the Wikipedia. We will continue using both.
A Computer Club was founded with 9 learners from Grades 10 and 11. The Club will be expanded to 20 learners. The club will have use of the lab once a week during Oct and Nov, and will be led by Mr. Mamane. Mr. Yankey independantly suggested the ECSPIRT method - namely, that the best students in the club take over responsibility for the classroom and train other students. This will lead to an independant group that needs less supervision. We are really overjoyed by the common vision!
A Junior School Lesson Plan was developed together with Bafazi. This will be implemented in the school by Mr. Sandile.
- The solar systems and computer systems are all working very well.
- Data to examine the lab usage frequency was gathered and will be analysed.
- The wireless network was improved at Bafazi, so that the admin block now also has reception and teachers can use the computing facilities in their offices.
- Internet access needs to be improved as a next step. All teachers asked for it and it seems that it would be a good time to implement this.
- A virus was downloaded from the Internet (paradoxically with AIDS course materials). It had no effect and was cleaned by the AVG anti-virus software. It was repeated that Administrator logins should not be used as a matter of course, but only in special circumstances.
 Living Lab refers to a methodology, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_lab
 Siyakhula means "we are growing together" and it is a name with deep meaning to the community and was chosen by the community. We have added "Living Lab" to the name, because these words are easy to understand and add to the idea of growth and research. Further, the Living Lab methodology is one that encourages participation and activity by users of ICTs in ICT research projects (such as ours). And indeed, we are hoping that the project and the community will grow together, and develop through use of the technologies we are trying out there.
The fundamental idea of the ECSPIRT Training Programme and awareNet >>
back to the main page of the Village Scribe Association >>
Current Progress in the ECSPIRT Project (2009) >>