Modern software development workshops at the UEM Maptuo

The ICT4DMZ project is now running quite a while and after three amazing weeks in Maputo we are one big step further to reach our goals. Philipp and I (Paul Spiesberger) tried to bring the students of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in Maputo on the right track.

In more than eight workshops we gave them the tools and the knowledge to start programming for their projects. At the beginning we tried to find out on which level their skills are and what we can expect. From that point on we knew that we will have to give them a short introduction to modern software development in a team as well. Up to that day the students were exchanging code with Dropbox and they had almost no structure or/and organisation for their teamwork. At that time we were glad that Florian and Anders did great work a few months ago. They helped them with team roles and project documentation a lot. So it was not necessary to cover that important part too. In order to give them an easy tool to handle their code and the organisation of their projects, we introduced them to GIT and Bitbucket. The students were impressed by the GIT workshop and we were happy to see over the next days that some of them were porting their “Dropbox projects” to their new GIT repositories. Working with Bitbucket-Issues was not that successful at the beginning, but we are sure that this will change over time. From that point on we were ready for programming and we split up the group by the two projects:

Complaint Center

The goal of this project is to create a website which can handle complaints about a company or a product. It should gather information or feedback and help to improve their services. Philipp started with a short tutorial about the PlayFramework and helped to set everything up. After that he assisted with his expertise as much as he could.

Philipp with students

FindUEM

The other group is working on an Android app for students to find POI like lecture rooms, Wifi hotspots or public power plugs at the UEM campus. I started to teach them the basics of Android programming and helped them to set up the project. Since Java programming and developing for Android are quite different, it took a little bit longer to write the first line of code. I tried to explain step by step the important parts and assisted as much as I could.

Paul with students

In total we worked about 27 hours in three weeks with the students. We had some troubles finding the right time slots for all students, since they had different time schedules during their weeks. Especially at the beginning we did some workshops twice, so no one missed the introductions to the technologies. After that, not all students attended to our workshops all the time, but we were never alone.

From now on, we will assist via Skype and e-mail remotely from Austria. We have a good feeling for the outgoing of the projects and hopefully the students keep engaged in the next months as they were during our workshops.

Group picture UEM

During our stay we also helped the UEM to use Moodle for a first test run. We hope that in the future this modern way of IT supported teaching will be expanded to other lectures and faculties to strengthen the teaching abilities at the UEM.

In addition Philipp and I were working hard on our master thesis. Philipp is doing research on big data for emerging countries and for that he conducted some expert interviews. I am interested in user interface design for mobile devices in emerging countries like Mozambique. So I did a survey with students to find out their mobile phone usage and habits.

Of course we also found time to travel and to take a look at this beautiful country. When you talk to people in Mozambique, experience the beautiful landscape and take the time to look behind the curtain, then you get the feeling that this country is moving fast forward. The question is in which direction. The currently discovered massive resources (minerals, oil, gas) can have a positive or a negative impact to the society. There is also a new party growing really fast and it is gaining more and more influence. In the last few months the country was almost slipping into a new civil war. But one week before we arrived, they managed to find a compromise and elections are going to happen in the future. But I think that despite the fact of great poverty, corruption and the lack of education, Mozambique has the ability to find the way to a great and rich future.

3 women

Last but not least I would like to say thank you to Emilio Mosse and Andrei Shindyapin. We are lucky to have this partner and friends in Maputo, who are willing to share their valuable time and love with us. Also a big thank you to the students for their great effort and time!

Philipp and I are excited to continue the work and we are looking forward to meeting our friends in Maputo again.

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Modern software development workshops at the UEM Maptuo
was published on 03.03.2014 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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Keta project – looking back

As already mentioned in the last post, our in-service training for teachers in digital media skills in public schools in Ghana at Keta Senior High Technical School is over now and Margarete is back in Austria again. So it’s time for a sum-up and some lessons learned.

Here’s a group picture of all the participants.

The participants of the group have received their certificates (posing in ECDL T- shirts, a gift from the Austrian Computer Society, http://www.ocg.at)

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School

Keta Senior High Technical School is a very large school with about 80 teachers and more than 2,000 pupils (due to Margarete’s informations). Some of the teachers participated in our program – it was a voluntary decision to expand their knowledge about information and communication technologies.

In the beginning it was necessary to find out what the teachers wanted to learn – considering the different skills levels of the participants

  • figuring out what the best outcome will be
  • every day Margarete assessed the interest of the particpants  and adjusted her program to the audience

Currently there has been a government program put into place where teachers are given laptops to use them in their courses. The timing of this government program fits nicely with our project.

The projector donated by Fritz, another of our members, was very helpful during the course.

Generally the feedback of the teachers was very good . They expressed their appreciation to learn more about ICT and digital literacy. The participants enhanced their ICT skills during the two weeks course and they developed new ideas for their class teaching. Different methods of pedagogy in class teaching (Ghana / European practice) were figured out.

The topics covered in the course included

  • basic ICT literacy
  • usage of MS Office programs such as MS Word, MS Excel and MS Powerpoint
  • basic internet-skills –how to use internet for better learning and teaching good practice skills (e.g. evaluation of websites)
  • how to enhance teaching and learning using digital devices
  • creating a digital portfolio (as an example for future teaching experience)

Challenges with the lab

  • internet connection only on the last day
  • PCs were no too well maintained – many disconnected parts & the working ones were full of viruses
  • power outages – but only 1 full day course had to be cancelled

Headmaster Mr. D.K. Sedanu-Kwawu was involved and is very positive and forward-thinking. He is very much interested in the potentials of ICT in teaching and learning.

Ministry

The day before departure Mr. D.K. Sedanu-Kwawu and Margarete met Mr. Abu Stephen.

  • Mr. Abu is Deputy Director-General & Director at the Basic Education Division and reponsible for ICT in education
  • Mr. D.K. Sedanu-Kwawu & Mr. Abu are looking forward to further activities
  • Keta School could become a pioneer project

It was a very interesting meeting, Mr. Abu already answered to a mail of Margarete – looking for further cooperation

Margarete also met with Dr. Bella Bello Bitugu, country manager of the Right To Play project who handed over Margarete a present on behalf of the Keta School alumnis to Margarete – a wooden stool with the sign of Keta School carved in.

Planning

We should continue with this project and plan for a next course, maybe continuing with the same group to widen their experience and build up a Trainee group, or maybe same content with another group of teachers

Organisation of the course and Margarete’s arrival and stay in Keta was perfectly fine, the mobile internet (MTN) worked perfect and and allowed her to stay connceted with Florian and Fritz in Austria and Worlali in the Netherlands.

Margarete will try to get Gameli and Eldad involved in an online project in Graz – already
talked with doctor father about this.

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Finally we want to express our sincere thanks especially to Gameli Adzaho and to Charles Amega-Selorm who organised everything on the spot and headmaster Mr. D.K. Sedanu-Kwawu. It was very kind of him to offer Keta Senior High Technical School to help make this project a success.

We’re looking forward to working with you soon again!

Big thanks and appreciation also to our member Worlali Senyo who initiated the project and virtually kept in touch with everybody during the whole period.

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Keta project – looking back
was published on 06.10.2012 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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News & pics from our Keta project after two weeks course

The first part of our project in Keta with Margarete Grimus holding the in-service training for teachers in digital media skills in public schools in Ghana at Keta Senior High Technical School has finished now. Margarete has done a great job in these almost three weeks and met some interesting people on the spot – so the next step is to assess the outcomes and possible ways to go further. From what Margarete is writing, however, there will definitely be a next part and we will continue the project.

So before we post a summary and our lessons learned, here’s some pictures of the course:

Make sure you check back soon, not to miss our summary.

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News & pics from our Keta project after two weeks course
was published on 25.09.2012 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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News from our Keta project after a week course

As already announced, since 6 September our member Margarete Grimus is in Ghana and holding the in-service training for teachers in digital media skills in public schools in Ghana at Keta Senior High Technical School since a week already.

Now here’s a short sum up of what she writes about how everything is going:

The course is running alright, we start every day at 8 AM until 1 PM officially – but so far we never stopped before 1:30 PM. […] There are plenty of computers in the computer room, but only 5 are working and they regrettably have viruses. Also, we don’t have access to internet. I bought an own internet stick myself on the first day and I’m using that one. There are 12 participants of the course with very different levels of skills, but the spirit is very good. […]

From next week on we’ll only start at 3 PM because regular school is commencing.The fact that we don’t have internet is quite a constraint in the course contents. Also I cant use the questionnaire I developed upfront. What’s very good is that two thirds of the participants have their own laptops with them. […]

It’s also very interesting to find out about the didactical aspects, which I find very important. There’s something new coming to my mind every day. […] The participants have a portfolio where they are summing up down every day what they learned and everybody is very interested and motivated. […]

We also have some pictures of Margarete at the school and with her hosts which you see above.

So, let’s hope internet will be available this week and that there’s a lot going forward at the course!

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News from our Keta project after a week course
was published on 16.09.2012 by Florian Sturm. It files under sub saharan africa
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Delayed start for our ICT training for teachers in Ghana

Because of a medical issue we regrettably had to postpone our in-service training for teachers in digital media skills in public schools in Ghana. Due to our initial plan the course should have started already, but we had to delay the start for two weeks. We’ve been in touch with everybody and have our man Gameli Adzahoon on the spot, so everything is sorted out.

Margarete Grimus will be in Ghana now from 6 September on and will probably split the course on two parts – but Margarete and the participants will plan for this when she’s there.

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Delayed start for our ICT training for teachers in Ghana
was published on 28.08.2012 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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New project: In-service training for teachers in digital media skills in public schools in Ghana

We’re proud to announce a new project, which will already start in about two weeks time!

Our members Margarete Grimus and Worlali Senyo have joined up with Gameli Adzaho and Charles Amega-Selorm in Ghana to provide an In-service training for teachers in digital media skills for teaching and learning in public schools in Ghana. The one-month course will already begin in two weeks and will take place at Keta Senior High Technical School. Margarete Grimus, who has extensive knowledge in teaching and adult education in ICT will hold the course and meet with several people on the spot to explore possibilities for further projects in this sector.

The main objective of this pilot project is to equip 15 teachers in public schools with skills in internet research and presentation to support their teaching and learning and ultimately extend it across public schools in Ghana.

I think it’s good timing for our project to start now as Ghana has expressed their intentions to use ICT in education a while ago already and confirmed so lately. We hope that the pilot picks up and want to enable the 15 participants to pass on their knowledge to their colleagues – literally teaching the teachers.

Specifically, the project will:

  • train teachers how to use computers for the learning in classroom for teaching, lesson notes preparation, and for general research
  • provide teachers with skills to use the internet as a resource to improve their teaching (e.g. how to access it, integrating it in class teaching to improve learning, internet literacy and internet safety)
  • guide teachers to identify good practice for Maths and Science teaching (in Junior and Senior High schools)
  • acquire presentation skills as a way to enhance their lesson delivery to improve learning outcomes in the classroom
  • introduce basic skills in research and statistics for evaluation of class/school-projects and scientific writing [from the project proposal]

To hear Gameli Adzaho talk in more detail about the project, check out this link to Coders4Africa Podcast.

We’ll keep you posted on the project and upload news and pictures here as soon as it has started.

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New project: In-service training for teachers in digital media skills in public schools in Ghana
was published on 08.08.2012 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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German article – Learning for a Responsible Life with a Global Horizon: Education Projects in Africa

Last month, at the international conference “Interactive and Competence-Orientated Education” in Brussels our member Margarete Grimus presented her article about education in Africa with a focus on ICT. The article is in German, the title “Lernen für ein verantwortliches Leben im globalen Horizont: Bildungsprojekte in Afrika” approximately translates to “Learning for a Responsible Life with a Global Horizon: Education Projects in Africa”.

I took the liberty to translate the abstract to English:

The development of the internet has opened perspectives in Africa in the last century which have been hampered by under-developed infrastructure before. The World Wide Web (WWW) can constitute a meaningful contribution to an increase in education standards – if lectureres know the potentials, have the necessary carefulness in dealing with ICTs and implements this in class. Education processes aim at the acquisition of knowledge, skills and approaches, digital literacy is a substantial part of education.

The different weight which is put on sectors such as gender or AIDS in the “first world” and in developing countries is extending experiences in both worlds. Insights in the education scene in Sub Sahara Africa are given with examples of the teacher education in Kano (Nigeria), health education in Cape Town (South Africa) and teacher education in Ghana.

So here you can download the article of Margarete Grimus. Here’s also the presentation slides she used:

Here’s the link for citation:

Grimus, Margarete. Lernen für ein verantwortliches Leben im globalen Horizont: Bildungsprojekte in Afrika. In: Holz, Oliver; Seebauer, Renate (Hrsg.): Interaktiver und kompetenzorientierter Unterricht. Interactive and Competence-Orientated Education. Verlag Dr. Kovac. Hamburg. S. 124-148 (ISBN: 978-3-8300-6422-0)

Thanks a lot to Margarete for providing this, it’s a very interesting read – especially having in mind our own projects.

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German article – Learning for a Responsible Life with a Global Horizon: Education Projects in Africa
was published on 19.06.2012 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Using ICTs in schools with no electricity

interacting with a whiteboard (in front of a blackboard) in Senegal

One persistent criticism that I hear of educational technology projects in many places — and especially in Africa — is that ‘there are too many pilot projects’. ‘What we really need’, or so the lament usually continues, ‘are things thatscale‘. While I don’t necessarily agree that more pilot projects are not useful — to the contrary, I have in the past explored why we need more (not fewer) ICT4D pilot projects in education — few would argue that we shouldn’t be focused on finding ‘solutions’ that ‘scale’.
One challenge that many groups find when trying to scale educational technology projects is that they often begin by working with relatively well-resourced schools in or near urban areas, seeking to establish proof-of-concept that something specific works (e.g. a technology, an approach to teacher training) before taking on the greater challenges of working in, for example, rural schools that are off-the-grid and which have few (if any) qualified teachers. It should perhaps not be so surprising that what works in the first set of schools may not work quite so well in the second set.
There are other groups who choose to start with the most difficult environments first, figuring that (1) that is where the need is greatest; and (2) if a model or approach works there, it might have a better chance of working (most) everywhere.
I am regularly contacted by groups who seek to work in such environments, but only rarely hear back from them with reports about what they are actually learning about working successfully in such environments (I do unfortunately hear a lot about failure), and how they are changing their approach or model as a result. One organization I have heard back from recently in this regard was Cybersmart Africa, a group I had initially learned about because of its innovative use of nylon sheets, PVC pipe, and a modified Nintendo Wii remote to assemble low cost interactive whiteboards for use in schools in Senegal. Cybersmart Africa works exclusively in schools with classrooms with very poor physical infrastructure (including those with no or very limited electricity). “If this is the reality for 80% of schools in Sub-Saharan Africa, and we need to scale ICT use for education, why base what you are doing on what 10-20% of the privileged have?” asks Cybersmart Africa founder Jim Teicher.
(Another example of an approach designed to work in very difficult environments is so-called interactive radio instruction; this has been shown to scale well in many places, but, for a variety of reasons, has often proved to be difficult to sustain. One Mouse Per Child, which has also been profiled on the World Bank EduTech blog previously, is another.)
Many of the Western NGOs and firms with whom I speak who are interested in ‘working in a developing country’ start with a very high level or high concept approach, figuring essentially that, if the strategy is largely correct, the details will follow. (Indigenous groups and international NGOs with long experience ‘on the ground’ usually know better, of course.) Such groups can become frustrated when they discover that it is often an accumulation of ‘small details’ that ensure their particular approach or model does not work. It is better to walk than curse the road, or so the saying goes in Wolof, one of the languages used in Senegal, and this is an approach that the Cybersmart team seems to be following. When speaking recently with Teicher, one of the most encouraging things I found was that he first wanted to share information not about grand theories about what *might* work, but rather about a lot of the ‘little things’ they have been learning about what *doesn’t* work, and about how iterating (and iterating, and iterating!) has been key to their ability to learn and make changes to their approach to methodically improve what they are doing. Things like:
  • If you are off-the-grid and need to use batteries, don’t used lead car batteries, which can cause big problems if/when they tip over, even if they are commonly available. Use sealed AGM batteries instead.
  • Let’s be honest: In most cases, there are too few computers in a school for too manystudents, and it is difficult to integrate their use into normal instruction.  Don’t make things more difficult by segregating computers into their own special rooms (e.g. computer labs). Instead, take the technology to the teachers and students where they are currently teaching and learning — in the classroom itself — and use tools like projectors and interactive whiteboards that impact as many students as possible at one time.  (While you’re at it, be prepared to spend more on teacher training and support than on the technology itself.)
And:
  • Given a choice (and there is a choice more often that you might think!), always search for local products (or, barring that, products that can be assembled locally) instead of immediately looking to import goods from abroad — this can be key to keeping costs down and keeping your supply chain as local as possible. This approach applies as much to the PVC material that they use for the portable ‘interactive whiteboards’ that they have assembled as to lesson plans, which are developed locally.
Sounds simple, you might say, to which I would say: you are exactly right.
moving a low-cost portable interactive whiteboard -- over rocks and sand -- between classrooms
Now, it is not my place or intention to do so here to ‘endorse’ the work of any particular organization (I’ll note parenthetically that World Bank has not supported this particular project in the past — although USAID has).
Rather, it is to highlight an approach which begins by working in the most challenging environments and not simply taking a model that worked successfully in Paris or Pretoria and assuming that, with some small modifications here and there, it will work everywhere. That’s common sense, you might say, and I would certainly agree. But, if the parade of groups who (seek to) pass through our offices here at the World Bank demo’ing their wares are any indication, and the many stalled projects I visit around the world are in any way representative, too often ‘common sense solutions’ are discarded in favor of what’s ‘new and exciting’. While funding what’s new and exciting may be fashionable for donors (should I be surprised that every other project proposal I seem to come across these days seems to include the use of mobile phones in some way?), in the end that it is usually the most practical solutions that find traction with teachers and students over time.
More information (short videos):
  • Here’s a short promotional video from Cybersmart Africa showing off its work. (A hint: watch it first with the sound off to focus on what classrooms in participating pilot schools actually look like)
  • Here are some interviews with school leaders (don’t turn the sound down on this one!) and a short explanation of how text messages (SMS) are being used in conjunction with low cost interactive whiteboards to support teachers.
  • Cybersmart has also posted 17 student-made videos, put together as a result of a special ‘digital storytelling’ initiative it sponsored. The idea here was first to gain the confidence and support of parents and community leaders by extend traditional storytelling customs into the digital realm, before moving on to other things. The result: 17 portraits of contemporary village life in Senegal.
Note: The image used at the top of this blog post (“interacting with a whiteboard (in front of a blackboard) in Senegal”) comes courtesy of Cybersmart Africa.  The second image (“moving a low-cost interactive whiteboard — over rocks and sand — between classrooms”) is taken from a screen capture of the ‘Snapshot – Cybersmart Africa’ video on YouTube.  Both are used with permission of the rights holder.

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Using ICTs in schools with no electricity
was published on 17.11.2011 by Worlali Senyo. It files under east africa, global, sub saharan africa
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Africa Gathering – Talks 1

Notes from the talks of Africa Gathering taking place in London, England on 25 April.

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David Hollow – ICT4D Collective / RHUL
The $100 laptop in Ethiopia – A case study

ICT for Education:

How to assess impact? How can ICTs make an impact in such extreme poverty?

Why impact assessment?

  • How do we know if our interventions have any benefit?
  • Variety of approaches
  • Operate in partnerships with people there
  • Engaging in ICT 4 Education projects, but then stepping back and evaluating what was happening

XO laptop in Ethiopia

  • What’s the educational challenges? Far not all children go to school, lack of textbooks & learning materials
  • 5000 XO laptops in use
  • Impact of the textbook reader on the XO laptop – monitoring and evaluation

Lessons learned:

  • content: educational content would be useful
  • teacher training: students are more advanced then the teachers – more training necessary
  • integration: laptop is not integrated in courses
  • frustrations: it’s not used for studying – a tyo rather than a tool; teachers have problems too, they don’t know how to use the laptops

what to do?

  • text book reader: options to provide a bridge, pupils can use  them & teachers see the benefits
  • technical challenges: mesh network & translating all the documents from textbooks to virtual
  • teacher training (pedagogical & technical)
  • plan for integration
  • more communication to parents & community
  • adjusting focus on secondary students
  • government shifted their approach from authoritatian to a more collaborative one

wider application

  • partnership requires transparency, expectations, communication
  • there are unanticipated outcomes

reflection on own projects

  • bring in self reflection
  • do we asses the impact of what we’re doing?
  • are beneficiaries engaged in decision making processes?
  • what methods are used?
  • are we conscious of power & aspiration in our projects?
  • do we see ICT as our tool and development our objective?

Q&A:

difference between children and teachers?

  • children were more willing to learn

what did children actually learn?

  • main thing: how to take photographs, how to play tunes

development of Akili? in Etheopia?

  • was developed in Switzerland

was there anybody responsible for translating the textbooks?

  • large team of people

why secondary education rather than teachers?

  • because of the volume of students – the sums involved

trying to connect to academics – you chose to work for a top-down orgaization, what could we have done better to make you work with a bottom up organization?

  • there are many projects I wanted like to work with, rationale was to engage with a large scale project to better assess impact

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Nkeiru Joe – International Law department, Virije University Brussel
Staying connected to Africa: an ecosystem approach as a response to the “solutions temptation”

Law, Africa & development – international law can achieve linkage

There are myriad problems when looking at international law

Solutions temptations – always going for the simplest solutions

Connecting everybody to technology – is it really great?

Submarine cabels provide Africa with big amounts of information – the issues connecting the cabels (connecting Africa with other areas) cannot be addressed within the continent alone

Has to be addressed by international law – there need to be standards in place

Who is liable for damage of the cables? Who protects the cables? A system in international law has to be put in place

UN-convention is in place – there has to be influence influence to hold the parties accountable

Norms and law can create the framework to include everyone in ICT4D

Why solutions need law?

  • There need to be capable agencies in place
  • Solutions can only come from within – local people have to be incorporated
  • International law = “watchful parents”

without addressing issues structurally = digging deep, sustainable solutions can’t be found

Q & A:

are landlocked states also addressed by the law of sea?

  • yes, they are

landlocked – geographically disadvanteged states – is there any pressure on coast states to share infrastructure with these states?

  • yes, e.g. Zimbabwe can lay a cable to the sea through any country as long as they are not causing any damage

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Africa Gathering – Talks 1
was published on 25.04.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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