The Wonky Road Ahead

The network here is a bit wonky.

According to Charles, one of our liaisons on the ground here, the Ministry of Education (MOE) would have preferred another venue.

That venue did not complete the required rating that would have established it as a Historically Disadvantaged Institution. Evidently, in order to bid for the contract, a business should qualify as a HDI.

We’re working with approximately 40 Senior Education Specialist e-Personnel this week. They work with the 6,000+ schools in the Eastern Cape province. The majority are responsible for tech training for around 300 schools.

At evening tea last night, one e-Personnel boasted that she was able to travel to a record 40 schools in one month thanks to her new government-subsidized car.

Eastern Cape has the third highest population in South Africa and is ranked the most impoverished.

And those are just the socio-economic problems.

Based on multiple reports here, the provincial and national management see ICT as a new problem for them to manage.

They are working under the myth that, “ICT can never ever, ever assist teachers in the classroom.”

Charles would like to erase that myth as his legacy.

I’d like to help.

Still, the network here is a bit wonky.

The e-Personnel haven’t all physically met in the same place for years. They’ve received quarterly training in cohorts.

They don’t know what one another is doing.

As I learned at lunch, “We are not terribly interested in what you are doing in your district as we are responsible for our own.”

Similarly, the e-Personnel have never been in the same virtual space at the same time. The e-Learning unit attempted to get everyone together through a site called SocialGo. It didn’t take.

Seems they didn’t inherently value something because it was new.

Yesterday’s session had the e-Personnel logging in to a moodle course we’ve designed for the week. It holds the readings, it holds the homeworks, it holds the forums for discussion. It means something to their progress.

Everyone had to download their homework files and fill out their moodle profiles before leaving the meeting room at night.

We haven’t any wireless access. They needed to be plugged in.

The network here is a bit wonky.


2 thoughts on “The Wonky Road Ahead

  1. Wonky as in Wonka? Like Willy? He had some pretty bizarre hurdles to jumps, giving over that factory, but in the end, it all came together, it all made sense. Up and out, as they say. The only way out is through. Plant the seeds of inspiration, the vision of possibility. Many will die, but some WILL flourish. It may be wonky, but it will be delicious in the end.

  2. It's easy, from 8,000 miles away, to tell you not to worry about the network. And I know that the network is a basic needs issue. If it doesn't work, it doesn't matter what kinds of wonderful applications you're putting on top of it. Reliability has to come first.But that's not your biggest problem. You need to show them that they MUST be “terribly interested in what you are doing in your district.” I would almost go as far as saying that it needs to be a theme for the week. There should be moments in each session where they're learning from one another. They have to value that interaction. I know you're already doing that.On the network side, remember that putting 40 people in a room and getting them all online at the same time is very different from how they will actually use the resource. They're typically going to be online one or two at a time, from different places, using different resources. It's a lot easier to get those couple computers online at a time than it is to build the type of system to reliably support a lab full of people.If you can provide a stable Moodle installation that they can get to, and give them some basic troubleshooting instruction, that can meet most of the basic needs. After that, it's a matter of them seeing value in the resource.Thank you for doing the good work. They definitely need you there.

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