Wednesday, April 6, 2011
April 6, 2011
Well, today, we are getting more productive. This morning, I worked on Then, at 1, I had a meeting with Kenneth Mwandara, of Silver Shadows Technology. He was a huge help in drafting our grant proposal for USAID, even though we couldn't submit it. It was not a failure, though, because by writing out the proposal, we developed a plan, we ascertained the problems, priced the whole thing out, and found that we had a team of about 25 collaborators in the US and Uganda. We are more poised to write for another grant when the opportunity arises. OK, back to Kenneth. We talked about how we could collaborate better in spite of internet failures, email missed transmissions and how to resolve those pesky communication problems. I showed him how he could create free Blackboard sites because he is very interested in e-learning (as they call it here). I showed him the site I created for the students at TATS (where I am staying). Then I explained that there was another company, Jenzabar, who is willing to help us. They also have a learning management system. So, I demonstrated that one and showed him the basic similarities to Blackboard. Then I showed the olpcmap.net site. He knew of Nick Doiron, another of the grant collaborators, and was indeed impressed. We also looked online at the Ugandan invention for UNICEF, which was a kiosk made of oil drums with an embedded computer, solar powered and battery charged. Amazing invention. It was a requirement of our grant proposal that we work with UNICEF and while we knew they were working on a kiosk idea to teach about HIV/AIDS/Health, we finally got to see in what way. We also talked about Google's visit to Africa and the efforts they are making with mobile apps. He indicated that he is working with Nokia for a similar purpose. We plan to meet again tomorrow. At 5, I taught the TATS students again. Last night, we realized that downloading and uploading with such slow internet made distance learning very troublesome. So before they came, I experimented with Google docs, particularly with publishing a Google Doc. Then in Jenzabar, or Blackboard, instead of uploading a file, going to a document was merely a link in the cloud-MUCH FASTER. Great, in fact. Now I have a better methodology to deliver online learning. I can keep the class cohesive with Course Info, Course Documents, etc. but I can carry the deliverables on Google Docs. I showed this to the students but I could NOT help also showing them the XOs. After all, I had not distributed them yet. They were amazed, giggling, trying things, listening intently. I prefaced this all with my little lecture of how cooperation and collaboration amongst children will lead to the same in adults, would be the antidote to war and conflict. You could see the aha expressions on their faces. We spent a good hour on the XOs and they want more. Hey, these are college students! Finally, after dinner, at 7, I met with Sophie Lagose, who is an administrator at Kampala University's Jinja Campus. We discussed the best place to deploy my 20 laptops and we came to the conclusion that they would best be placed in the primary school closest to the Jinja campus. This way, not only do the children benefit but the teachers attending the campus to "upgrade" could do their fieldwork there, observing, teaching and learning of course. We made an arrangement to bring me to campus next Wednesday to test out the facilities, internet, projector, Jenzabar system, meet with some teachers, sleep overnight there (2 hours away) and spend all of Thursday training about 30 teachers on Jenzabar, the XOs and the philosphy underlying these amazing machines. By the way, 10 are still stuck in customs and I am getting nervous. My host had to fill out papers and they said it could take 2-22 days to get these machines out. they have gone from Texas to Ohio, to Texas again, to London, to Kampala, to Kenya and back to Kampala. Unbelievable. On the other hand, the 10 I carried in a suitcase are fine. Yes there is a police presence all over town.