What I begin to understand over my first few days is the challenge and the pressure of being the only computer expert (read: functional knowledge of computers) in an entire village. Until his first class graduates, it's all up to Thomas. This is a challenge he takes on with pleasure and pride. Over the course of our visit, Thomas wants to talk to me about resources on the internet, about what else he can be doing with students in his computer class.
Thomas is strong in Microsoft office and classes have focused on using the various programs it offers, along with typing and writing skills. What he is interested in is in bringing the internet more fully into his classroom. At first we begin making a list of internet resources and websites he can use. Then we decide to take it one step further.
Thomas and I decide that Sereolipi Primary School should have its own website. That it should be a living website, a portal through which the school can provide the world with continually updated information on life in Sereolipi and Samburu culture. We begin devising a structure so that each student can contribute. Then we put it up...
Luckily, iMentor has already developed a great curriculum project where mentors and mentees can work together to create a website. It uses an extraordinary program offered by Google, called Google Page Creator. Page Creator makes it easy for anyone with a Gmail account to create and publish a webpage. It offers a variety of templates, easy to edit page designs, and perhaps most importantly, it hosts all of these pages on Google's servers for free.
While I am there, Thomas and I create the homepage. We also create a page of internet links that may be helpful to students (everything from news sites, to You Tube, to free e-books, to online educational games). Students will be encouraged to search the web and add links to this page, working together to build Sereolipi's database of internet resources.
When students return to school (early 2007) they will begin to work on fleshing out the site. Early projects will include:
- Each student will work on writing a biography and then post the biography as their own webpage in the "About our Students" section.
- The class will work together to create an online Sereolipi Primary School Photo Gallery.
- Students will work in small groups on webpages that explain and celebrate Samburu culture. These pages will be located in the About Samburu Culture section of the site.
- Posting samples of their work to the 2007 Sereolipi Computer Class Goals section of the site that Thomas and I have created. This page is designed as a way to create and track specific goals and benchmarks for the class next year.
And this is only the beginning. If you have ideas for projects for the class, please share! You can post them as comments to this blog or email them to Mike O'Brien at iMentor (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Check out the Sereolipi Primary School website HERE