Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Hi all,
I was in computer hell for a few days but things got better.

First lecture today went really well, so if nothing else is accomplished, I have enough to start the long distance project with Kampala University. It took a bit to set up the classroom for my "lecture". On the way to Kampala, we picked up a projector that we reserved from a local Technology Center. (the stairs and mud to traverse were challenging in heels!). They found a screen and we set up the projector on a podium, while I sat at the desk with my netbook, my powerpoint presentation, and Sugar on a Stick. I restarted when needed. It worked out surprisingly well, as there was no internet connection but thankfully, I could get around that.

In the audience was Daniel Bwanika, the Director of Development, another professor and students from computer science and education majors. They loved the presentation and were eager to participate. My intention is to enroll them in a Blackboard course to guide their learning. They were each given a LiveCD which, I understand they jumped right into after the lecture. I believe an educational approach and a computer science approach work hand in hand to keep the teaching and learning moving.

We also visited with Andreas from Germany who was hired to set up an AV studio. We watched him work and it turns out his wife is a principal of a local primary school who might turn out to be our first deployment. He was very interested in our EdMedia program as one of its goals is to produce educational documentaries.

Kampala has many campuses. One, in particular, is a good target place to begin widespread deployment. It is in Masaka about an hour away. There, they train 700 teachers who are from Uganda and neighboring countries. These "students" are actually teachers furthering their education. By getting to these teachers, each can bring the XOs to their respective schools. That is the plan of the moment.

We made plans to visit with Daniel at his home the next day to strategize. My colleague met with the Nursing School. Other TATS colleaques were involved in HIV/AIDS education and we traveled from center to center to drop people off and chat with the contacts.

Tomorrow is a holiday here but Thursday I will be at 3 universities. Plans move slowly and change constantly. Traffic makes Manhattan look like a walk in the park! Some nice areas but extreme poverty everywhere. We are on flaky electricity, no water at times. That can be scary. Things are connected from one device to another to another, very funny but a bit stressful while I was getting ready. Now I am calmer and can look back and laugh. Stores/restaurants don't take Travelers Checks (20% surcharge) so I am out of money .. Having to wire it from home. Good to know because we tried to get Uganda money in NY but couldn't.

One professor here fell at Kampala University and had to be airlifted to South Africa for surgery and then airlifted home. Pot holes in roads are like craters and people drive on both sides any way they can, motorcyles, cars, pedestrians, it is a free-for -all! I video-taped it ; looks like a movie car chase scene.

People are wonderful, very grateful, students crave education, most can't go beyond primary school. The children are beautiful. The school children each have colorful uniforms and they move in groups when they leave school, walking along the sides of roads. This project is sorely needed. So far, everyone is interested!

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