OurMoz wins World Bank’s #APPS4MAPUTO

We are proud to announce that two of our former student who worked with us in our last ICT4DMZ project were part of the OurMoz (Mauro Banze, Alfredo Muchanga and Félix Barros) team which won the World Bank’s #APPS4MAPUTO contest in Mozambique. Mauro and Alfredo gained in our lecture at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) a better understanding for mobile software development and design. Mauro said that in our courses he learned a lot about software design which also partly enabled their success. He describes their work as a

crowdsourcing Android app that would allow citizens to report problems in their communities and share relevant information with others.

They worked together with the Associação Fraunhofer Portugal Research (Fraunhofer Portugal) and they describe their cooperative output as follows:

The Android App developed within the scope of this competition allows the community supervisors to report situations detected on the field more rapidly; to consult geotagged events, according to a specific category or location; to validate the information submitted by citizens, as well as to give feedback about each situation’s resolution status, assuring that all information is integrated with participatory monitoring platform ntxuv.

The Application’s stability and usability, the reliability of the information communication, the App’s positive response to the needs of the Participatory Urban Service Monitoring for Maputo Municipality, as well as its capacity to motivate the supervisory workers, were among the qualities acknowledged to the group of young research students Mauro Banze, Félix Barros e Alfredo Muchanga, from the OurMoz team. Moreover, these were the evaluation criteria applied to all solutions submitted to the contest and assessed by judges a panel, which comprehended representatives from several major organizations, such as the World Bank, the Swedish Embassy in Maputo, the mobile communications company mCel, the startup Ideario, and the company UX.

We are very happy and wish them all the best for their future. Keep up your awesome work!

OurMoz Team

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OurMoz wins World Bank’s #APPS4MAPUTO
was published on 06.09.2015 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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The Drone has landed!

A few months ago we supported Noah from the Keta Senior High Technical School to finance his drone project. We are happy to announce that the project was a success and the drone arrived at the school. Noah and his colleagues are already experimenting with their new flying technology, check out the pictures below!

But they are not stopping there. A new research project has started a few days ago and they need your support! They will use the drone to create a documentary on salt mining. Once again we support their awesome idea and call for your funding!

Check out their project here:



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The Drone has landed!
was published on 29.06.2015 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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Educational Research On Salt Mining

Due to our Digital media training for teachers in Ghana project in Keta we are in close contact to the Keta Senior High School. Local students want to start a new research project on salt mining the area and they are looking for your support!

“Our mission is to discover how salt mining is done over there and to listen to the various views of the people concerning the challenges they face in their effort to develop their salt mining.

We would learn about how salt is mine locally and develop ways to solve the challenges the miners face in other to enhance their work. Another aim is to discover some of the resource they have and to come up with a way to utilize them.”

Check it out:



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Educational Research On Salt Mining
was published on 22.06.2015 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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Promising Offspring of our Keta Project

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

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Promising Offspring of our Keta Project
was published on 09.03.2015 by Paul Spiesberger. It files under sub saharan africa
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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


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 Continued – Second Workshop in Ghana

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.

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Keta Project Continued – Second Workshop in Ghana
was published on 20.11.2013 by Florian Sturm. It files under sub saharan africa
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ICT4DMZ – Course Finished

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.

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ICT4DMZ – Course Finished
was published on 23.09.2013 by Florian Sturm. It files under sub saharan africa
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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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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.)
  • 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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Planning for a new project & presentation at Ars Electronica

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”.

Check here for the exact time and date of the “Create Your World” event.

We’re proud to get the chance to present there and I’m sure we’ll get to know many interested and interesting people.

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Planning for a new project & presentation at Ars Electronica
was published on 27.08.2011 by Florian Sturm. It files under sub saharan africa
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