To find clever students at the Keta Senior High Technical School is not that hard, but what Noah does is simply amazing. He is one of the most talented kids at his school and continues to work on our project in Ghana (with Margarete’s online support). Voluntarily engaging and working with his colleagues is naturally for him. They founded a “Mobile Learning Society” at the school, are experimenting with robotics (see photo) and most important: approximately half of the group are girls, which is not so common in other schools. Within his new project he and the the ”Mobile Learning Society” publish Wikipedia articles and contribute with their work to the free online encyclopedia.
Currently he is collecting money for a drone to give people all over the world an insight to his work, life and great projects. With the drone they can get a better view from above. One of their first filming projects will be a report about salt evaporation in Ghana. Their experiments will be documented in a blog. All together it is a big step forward with the regard to STEM developments launched currently all over the world.
If you are stunned like us, the please consider to donate a small amount of money to his awesome project:
If you can’t, then please share his vision to reach as many people as possible!
We would like to say thank you and wish Noah all the best
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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As proposed after the successful workshop at KETASCO last year (see
http://ict4d.at/2012/10/06/keta-project-looking-back/) a follow up workshop on the topic “Learning and Teaching with Digital Technology had taken place in September 2013 in Keta. The school is still growing and hosts now about 2.800 students, another 15 classes in a new block open next year.
The second workshop focused on development of content for mobile learning with teachers and students and was scheduled for three weeks from 9th to 28th September 2013. The aim was to offer a chance for students to access learning material on their own mobile phones whenever they need it and to produce content particular to local demands:
Schedule: two weeks teacher training and a third week teamwork of teachers and students. Topics of the workshop:
- Development of locally relevant digitized content and upload to mobile phones. Test and peer-review
- Use of a Dropbox for feedback and reviews. (possibilities. benefits and challenges)
- Creation of a personal digital portfolio.
- Didactical methods: Evaluation of digital learning material e.g. Open Content, OER.
- Guidelines for Best practice: Mobile phones for learning’.
Initially 20 teachers registered; finally 14 fulfilled the requirements for a certificate. During the third week 13 students participated. For testing 20 mobile phones (Nokia E5-00 smartphone with MicroSDHC 2GB inbox) and 5 eReader (TrekSTor E-Book Reader Pyrus mini, 4,3” Digital Ink) were brought from Europe, together with an additional WLAN router to
support mobile Internet access. Noah, an ICT student of KETASCO assisted in technical and organizational aspects, his
support was highly appreciated and contributed to the success of the workshop.
Students were introduced by teachers in creating a digital portfolio and use of a drop-box. Together they created courses for specific subjects and topics:
- Social Studies: Adolescence Pregnancy
- Social Studies: Adolesence Chastity
- Physics: Projectiles
- Physics: Atom Physics, Basics
- English Language: Nouns
- ICT: Classification of Computer Hardware
- Business Studies: Law of agency
- Graphics and Art: Elements of Design
- Chemistry: Inter Atomic Bonds
- Economics: Demand
- Mathematics: SET Theory
The courses were presented from a student accompanied by teacher to the auditorium. Finally four external examiners
(teachers from other SHSS) approved the success of the workshop and the quality of the developed material. They gave feedback to the participants in the three categories:
- Teachers’ Portfolios (evaluation of reports, structure, achieved learning outcomes, keywords, take home statements, summary
- Content of developed Courseunits (micro-content) developed by teachers and students units (small groups, 1-2 teachers+ 1-2 students). Assessment of course-structure, -design, suitable for small screens, visualization/images. Output as epub and pdf.
- Guidelines for good practice, posters. The assessment checked on completedness of relevant facts and if the take in account needs of both parts (teachers and students) to gain better acceptance
Challenges were seen in the frequent power outages, which impair the work in the computerlab. Noah is also the tutor of a team working on robotics. They prepare to participate in a comettion on robotics.
The second workshop led to a better understanding of the issue of mobile devices for learning than theoretical statements A similar acceptance was found in the interview with the headmaster. Teamwork with students offered new insights as well for teachers as for students and can be recognized as a basis for further developments in
teaching and learning. Teachers were encouraged to pass their learned skills on to students and colleagues afterwards.
In the opening ceremony the headmaster reported to all students and teachers about the new trends coming up in education. He addressed that this could help to become critical thinkers, referred to new didactical methods and benefits by integrating mobile devices in learning and teaching. He proposed a reform of the guidelines for the use of mobile devices at school. 14 teachers were handed over their certificates of successful completion of the workshops. Finally 4 laptops from Austrian donors were handed to the school to benefit students and teachers in the new built library.
We hope that the expertise gained in the workshops will affect further developments.
Publications of the project in international journals:
Grimus, M., Ebner, M., Holzinger, A. 2013a. Mobile Learning as a chance to enhance education in developing
countries – in the example of Ghana. In: mLearn 2012 Conference Proceedings. Specht, M., Sharples, M.,
Multisittla, J. (Ed.), Helsinki, Finland, p. 340-345, ISSN 1613-073, Volume 955, http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-955/
Grimus, M. and Ebner, M. 2013b. M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about. In . Jan
Herrington et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and
Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved 28.10. 2013 from
The support to the Workshops with mobile devices (mobile phones and laptops) and the provided prices have contributed a lot to the success of the project. This is why I would like to thank Mr. Tom Trauner for assembling of the phones and the donation of lot of material. My thanks address also the Austrian Computer Society which supported the project with pen drives, T-shirts and caps. Many thanks to the anonymous donators who supported the project with laptops via mediation of Dr. Baumer.
Particularly I would want to thank my mentor, Univ. Prof. Dr. Martin Ebner of the University of Technology Graz, who helps me any time with advice and suggestions; his contributions benefit a lot to the success of the project.
Anders and me are back in Austria now after an exciting month in Mozambique, working for the project ICT4DMZ at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo. We had a great time and would like to thank our partners on the spot, Emilio Mosse and Andrei Shindiapin. Below there’s a group picture with them and Marcia, a future PhD student in Maputo and Vienna. We are very happy that we can offer her this opportunity together with APPEAR and TU Wien.
All in all we have had quite some time in several lessons with the students to bring forward the concepts for the two applications they were interested in creating. In this blog post you can find some pictures of how we worked together. Of course after three weeks we could only touch some things and the use case diagrams, list of system components, UML diagrams and mockups we created are a first draft only. However, I’m proud of everything we produced and it gives a good impression what the applications should do. Now it’s up to the students and their supervisors to work on the projects until February, when two colleagues, Paul and Philipp will come to Maputo to deal with implementation of the two applications. We will try to keep in touch with the students and hopefully they will find time besides their many duties at university to continue their efforts with “Safe Maputo” and “Complaint Center”.
Additionally to the course, Anders and me held two presentations for students of informatics and journalism about current developments in media. We dealt with topics as diverse as the Raspberry Pi or PRISM and received a good deal of interest.
Finally I can only express my hopes that what we’ve said and done has helped the students broaden their horizon in general and increase their insights into software creation. I had a good time working with the students and am looking forward to keep in touch and observe the development of the applications.
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!
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
Although we haven’t announced any news during the summer, we were not only travelling and relaxing but we were also working behind the scenes.
One major outcome is a proposal for a new project in Ghana with exciting local and Austrian partners, which we want to start later this year. The main objective of this project
“is to equip teachers in public schools with skills in internet research and presentation to support their teaching and learning process” [quote from our proposal]
By assisting teachers to use the internet, we think several aspects in education can be improved. This in turn makes not only the teachers, but the students and other stakeholders benefit. By teaching teachers, we are aiming for a multiplier effect and replication across the country.
We will publish more about the project and our partners (Ghana: Worlali Senyo, Charles Amega Selrom, Gameli Adzaho;Austria: Prof. Emerita Maragete Grimus) as soon as we’re finished planning and have concrete dates.
However, we will present the proposal on 1. September in Linz at the event “Mein Beitrag zum Wandel” at the “Create Your World” subfestival of “Festival Ars Electronica”.
We’re proud to get the chance to present there and I’m sure we’ll get to know many interested and interesting people.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has become widespread in Ghana and the use of software is playing pivotal role in this increasing growth witnessed in ICTs. Both Proprietary Softwares (PS) and Free and Open Source Softwares (FOSS) are being used in Ghana but PS are much more widespread because most of these PS particularly Windows OS come bundled into the computers whiles those specialized softwares like accounting and payroll, anti-virus and office productive softwares are to be purchased at extra cost contrarily to the positions adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Geneva, 2003 and Tunis 2005) on the importance of the issue of
diversity of choice in the use of softwares and critical role softwares play in access to information and knowledge. The positions are really not what pertain in most African countries particularly Ghana as result the worrying trend is the wide use of pirated PS, especially Microsoft Windows and Windows based applications in government departments and institutions, private firms and by individuals. In actual fact some users in Ghana think that all softwares can be downloaded and shared for free.
This blog captured key findings in a study commissioned by the Free and Open Source Software Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA). A comparison of FOSS and PS use in Ghana is made showing the usage patterns of these software alternatives on both the desktop and server environments. Total cost of ownership in the Ghanaian context is presented. Finally, suggestions on the way forward for FOSS implementation in Ghana. The findings presented are credited to a research project FOSS Advocacy in West Africa and Beyond – (FOSSWAY) commissioned by FOSSFA.
FOSS and PS use in Ghana
The study showed that in the desktop environment Windows OS dominated by as much as 84.7% whiles Linux OS constituted 11.9% followed by 3.4% for Unix OS of respondents. It was observed that the reason for Windows OS dominating is because desktop computers bought came with Windows OS pre-installed. Other reasons where attributed to the ease of use and availability of applications, and technical support. An interesting finding the study pointed out was that users of Linux OS on desktop system said it was easy to use dispelling the misconception about the difficulty of using Linux. Another reason users of Linux gave was its safety and freedom from viruses. On the server side, Windows dominated with 66.7%. Linux on the other hand had more than double (25.4%) the response of those using Linux as desktop OS and 3.2% of responses used Unix OS and 4.8% used Solaris. About 96% of the Linux OS server users had Windows Server deployed alongside the study noted.
The users of FOSS mostly are from the technical community, enthusiast and students who install often dual boot with Windows OS. The Ghana India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT and user groups like Students Linux Space, LinuxAccra, LinuxLegon, Ghana Open Source Society (GHOSS), Ghana Bloggers Community, Ghana Developers’ Community and Ushahidi Ghana are advocating the adoption of FOSS by institutions in the country and a lot more needs to be done.
Total Cost of Ownership
The framework behind the Total Cost of Ownership combined among others factors which apply to the operations of computer equipment which included; hardware, training, and support measured over the lifespan of the equipment. The study asked respondent to rank key setup-cost factors (software licenses, hardware, technical support, and training for staff) on a scale from 1 (least) to 5 (most) and it emerged that hardware cost contributed significantly to overall set-up cost ranking 4 for PS and 3 for FOSS. Software licenses where less significant in their contribution to set-up cost for FOSS ranking 2 compared to PS which ranked 4. On technical support FOSS was ranked 3 whiles PS ranked 4. Finally, Training was ranked 3 for both PS and FOSS. Although the study did not include specific questions on piracy, the research team gathered that software piracy was high especially amongst individual users.
Challenges to FOSS use
The major challenge the study identified was the absence of any FOSS policy in Ghana and the existing procurement policy does not clearly stipulate terms for procuring softwares. It is interesting to note that in the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) a software is defined as “something you buy a license for” which basically saying means we do not consider FOSS.
Users still have the perception that FOSS solutions are complex to use. Another dominant challenge cited in the study is the lack of support for FOSS solutions. Others include compatibility, too frequent
updates and too many OS types. The study in conclusion recommended that government to come Policy on Software or FOSS policy by learning from the South African experience to tackle the issue of software procurement in a holistic manner. It also urged the establishment of FOSS council to further probe FOSS issues in Ghana.
We are from time to time getting requests from groups or individuals who want to contribute to this blog or want to share their own projects with us. So we decided to give some of them the possibility to publish here and reach out to our community. More on this in a coming blog post.
One of the projects – Sendinel, a piece of open-source software which helps to improve
communication between clinics and patients in areas such as rural South Africa is introduced here in the following. The author of this intro text to Sendinel is Johan Uhle, bachelor student of computer studies at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute at the University of Potsdam, Germany.
Regularly going to a clinic or hospital is the basis of good health-care. But traveling to a clinic is, especially in rural areas, connected with a lot of effort, time and cost for the patient. Therefore patients only want to go to the clinic when they feel that it is really necessary.
This is one reason why patients sometimes do not attend follow-up consultations or vaccination appointments. On the other hand some people come to the clinic more often than necessary, because they have to check if something they are waiting for, like a medicine or a lab result has already arrived.
Thus it would be good if clinics could remind and notify their patients when they have to come to the clinic again.
Sendinel is a software that does this by sending SMS and automated phone calls to patients. When a
patient is at a clinic, the doctor, a nurse or admin clerk can subscribe the patient’s cellphone number to one of the following reminder or notification services:
• Patients can be reminded of follow-up consultations and vaccination appointments
• Patients can be reminded when their lab results have arrived
• Patients can be notified when a medicine is in stock again
• Patients can be informed about specific topics by the clinic. An example is to inform all pregnant women about the next gymnastics training.
To send the messages no internet connection is required because the messages are sent via an USB 3G Stick with a regular local SIM card. The Sendinel team has successfully deployed the server application to a clinic in rural South Africa on a Plug Computer which costs less than 100 $.
If you want to know more about Sendinel please visit the Homepage at http://www.sendinel.org. The software is published under an Open Source License.
Sendinel has been developed by a team of seven Bachelor students of IT Systems Engineering at the Hasso-Plattner-Institut in Potsdam/Germany. The project is part of the graduation process and lasts for about nine months until July 2010. The team is currently looking for people who want to use and further develop Sendinel.
Partners of the project are SAP Research Pretoria, the University of Cape Town and SES Astra. These partners also made it possible for the team to go on a research trip to South Africa in March 2010. During that trip, Sendinel was deployed in a clinic. You can read more about the trip and the resulting findings in this blog post on the Sendinel Blog.
Here’s a shout out for an upcoming event called DIY Kenya commission, which is a new residency opportunity for technologists, creatives and collectives to travel to rural Kenya. The aim of the residency is “to develop innovative ideas, products, events, interventions or artworks in response to everyday African concerns“.
Background Technology is being used in highly innovative ways both in the west and in the developing world. These innovations are not always for artistic or cultural purposes, but that may alter or call into question traditional ways of doing things. The effect of these changes on the day- to-day lives of individuals is significant and often inspiring.
When: 18 July- 10 August, 2010. Deadline for submissions: 14 May. More info here.