Friday, July 1, 2011

Teaching The Teachers: Day 1

We had 7 teachers in attendance, the headmaster of the school, and our Kenyan project partner. The instructional session was in English. This provided some challenges, because although the classes are conducted in English, it is the third language of all the teachers (behind Kidawida or other tribal language, and Kiswahili).

We began by attempting to engage the teachers in a conversation so we could gauge their experience with computers. One had a computer at home that she used for internet browsing (email, facebook, google), and for the Microsoft Office Suite (spreadsheets, word processing). She also had spent some time with the XO machines that were left earlier. The rest of the teachers had no computer experience, or were not willing to talk about it. The conversation did not get going until we put the machines in front of them.

We began by demonstrating google. We asked the teachers for a topic they wanted to know more about, and by googling “bantus in Uganda.” They were excited to see that information came up, and we explained google by explaining:

“people all over the world are writing books about all sorts of topics. They put the books on the internet, and google is an assistant that will help you find the books that people write.”

Next we demonstrated the offline Wikipedia activity on XO (wikipediaEN.xo). We pulled up some articles.

A problem we encountered for both of these activities was the size of the text. We had to zoom in, but the process of having to enlarge the text took away focus, and patience.

Next, we broke into groups. Aaron helped one teacher set up an email address, by creating a yahoo account. Filling out the form presented many problems for a first time computer user:

·      Concept of traversing form box by box was novel.
·      Arrow shaped cursor, when hovering on box becomes text style cursor, confusing.
·      Dropdown menus look mostly like input boxes, difficult.
·      Scrolling down the page took precise cursor control AND new idea of holding control button while moving cursor a challenge.
·      Typing was very slow
·      Password
o   What is a password?
o   Why do the letters show up as dots, instead of letters.
o   Password requirements
o   Forget Password Questions.
·      Spam box at end of form. Why does it exist. Trouble reading.

As we had to repeat many processes (going from input box to input box), it was helpful having a second teacher as an onlooker, who was not hassled by the physical control of the device, be able to reexplain instructions in Kiswahili to the teacher filling out the form.

It’s a good idea for new users to work in groups, so they can teach eachother.

Meanwhile, Joanna demonstrated chat.xo . Unfortunately, Joanna had some trouble getting the computers on the same mesh network, and maintaining focus while troubleshooting was difficult.

Some teachers took out their cell phones when losing patience. After the lesson, we realized that really, the cell phones in are also computers, and since all of the teachers already have a great grasp on how to use their cell phones, we want to take the already learned concepts of cell phone interfacing, and apply them to the XOs.

It was exciting to watch the teachers’ transition from such hesitation, to excitement and willingness to learn, but it is apparent we have a long way to go.

We have an optional workshop scheduled this weekend (Saturday 11:00am) for the teachers and members of the community.
We are working with the teachers again after school Next Monday, Tuesday Wednesday.

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