Figure 1. The Whole Team minus the Camera man Mr. Khamis
Top Row: Hamza Ndaro, Hamadi Kipanga, Hamadi Mwinyihaji, Kevin Kweyu , Nassoro Mtengo, Miriam Nzovu, Sada Kassim, Swaleh Mtengo, Stephen Ondeche
Second Row: Mwanaulu Hamadi, Mariam Mwinyihaji
Third Row: Hamida , Mwanamisi Kidongo, Nafisa Mwanyika, Tima

 

Introduction

The trip to Msabweni has been in the making since late last year. Ruth Thomas approached Usawa Foundation to help Munje Primary by providing them with the interactive whiteboards system that we have setup in 7 schools in Kisumu and one on the outskirts of Nanyuki – the latter has built on the successes of Rift Valley Adventures and the International School of Kenya who have established a strong ICT program at Irura Primary

Mama Ruth was able to organize everything from our accommodation, meals and transport within Msambweni and for that we are very grateful.

 

Munje Primary School

After a talk with the deputy head teacher, we planned to meet the rest of the team the next day when we would start. They also took us to have a look at the ICT room where we would be working.

The infrastructure at Munje Primary School is very good and would be sufficient for their needs at this time, except from a few design flaws in the room like sockets on the floor, everything checked out including their storage space.

Day One – Tuesday 10th January 2017

We met Mr. Khamis Nyanje, the ICT teacher who had just returned from a training on the new equipment they received from the government. He also doubles up as the Class 1 teacher which was perfect as the Usawa set up is primary targeting early learners.

Session 1 : Introduction to Usawa Foundation and Equipment.

This first session was focused on introducing the teachers present to who Usawa Foundation is and Introduction to the setup and was delivered by Stephen Ondeche.

The aim was to get the teachers interested in the setup and what it could achieve and as such, we setup everything ourselves and Stephen was able to show them some of the features it had on a more practical basis. The teachers were soon intrigued and were asking questions about putting it all together which was the next session handled by Kevin Kweyu.

He gave an overview of the different Software and Hardware components, which provided a good foundation for the next step: connections.

Mr. Khamis soon approached us citing how useful he felt the setup was even pointing out that he believes it would be useful even with the government equipment and content. We were thoroughly impressed by his thinking –  he is one of the few teachers we have trained who had an outlook of the setup as a tool rather than a separate syllabus right from the start.

At the end of the session we had a short Q&A session. The desired effect of this first session was achieved as the teachers were already curious about how it all fits together. We could see that they were already thinking about the possibilities.

 

Session 2: Physical Connections

Figure 3. Kevin Kweyu explaining the physical connections.

Kevin Kweyu walked the teachers through setting up the physical connections between the devices. He was careful to mention every component and how they fit and function in the entire system based on our previous experience with other teachers.

The teachers were each walked through the setup process, each given a chance to put together and take apart the connections. A more practical approach we find is always necessary to help the teachers have a hands-on approach to making the connections. Even with teachers who haven’t seen these connections before or are unable to immediately understand them, we find that it lays a proper foundation for progressive understanding.

This group of teachers were very new to computers and their accompanying connections but they were ready to learn and worked well together to better understand the setup as can be seen in the images below.

This part of the setup included just the physical connections and not the virtual ones like the Wii Remote. We ended the session at around Noon and broke off for Lunch Break.

We were treated to some good ugali and sea fish which was prepared by the teachers: very good people, very hospitable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Session 3: Interactive Tools Setup (Wii Remote & Smooth board Software)

In this session, we moved into the key components that make the whole setup interactive: namely the Wii Remote and the Smooth Board Software. We focused on the Wii remote connection especially because we have learned from experience that this always presented the greatest difficulty.

Kevin walked them through the setup as a continuation of the previous session. He did a remarkable Job explaining the connections. Again as always we had all the teachers practice making the connections. We also delved into the Smooth board software. Kevin walked them through the calibration process which are steps followed through the aid of smoothboard to mark four specific points on your whiteboard as indicated by the software to ensure that a clear grid of your workspace is noted by the software in relation to your screen, something that they seemed to handle very well.

              

Figure 5. Left: Kevin guiding Mr. Mwinyhaji through setting up the Wii Remote.
Right: Mr. Hamza connecting the Wii Remote

 

Day Two – Wednesday, 11th January 2017

Unfortunately, the teachers (lower primary) had to go for a Tusome training on this date. As such we were unable to have time with them in the morning.

In the afternoon we were faced with yet another challenge as power went out and showed no signs of returning. After about an hour of waiting we discussed with the teachers and decided that the next day was probably the best time to start.

We therefore used this afternoon to take a little tour of Msambweni, our Bodaboda guy Mr. Salim Rashid who has been very reliable the entire trip was able to take us through some back routes showing us a few things all the way to the beach and back.

 

Figure 6. Tour with our Bodaboda guy Mzee Salim Rashid.

 

Day Three – Thursday, 12th January 2017

Session 4: Setup Recap

This was a particularly special and interesting day as we now had all the teachers from lower primary with us. We also had 4 new teachers joining us.

As part of our exercise and practice, we had the teachers who had been there take the new teachers through, and we only intervened to ensure details were properly communicated. One teacher Mr. Sada Kassim was especially very confident about his understanding of the setup. He always volunteered himself to show the others and rightly so as he had grasped lessons from the previous session well.

Figure 7. Mr. Sada taking the lead with describing and making the connections.

The new teachers were equally excited about the setup, four ladies Mwanaulu Hamadi, Mariam Mwinyihaji, Hamida , Mwanamisi Kidongo, all lower primary teachers, they were the focus for this lesson.

Figure 8. Ladies turn to make the connections. #LadiesInTech

We then got into the elimu app, from previous illustrations the teachers who were there on previous sessions could navigate around the program. We did realize however that the teachers were having a difficult time using the elimu app while merging it with their normal teaching methods. This was however a challenge that was short-lived. As soon as the teachers brought their heads together and figured it out led by Mr. Khamis.

Session 5: Use of PDF Books with Smooth board

Figure 9. Kevin explaining use of smooth board tools with PDF books.

Kevin started this session off with showing the teachers how they can go beyond the Elimu app, to make things easier and for them to stay familiar, we made sure that the PDF books opened on the same program they would open Story Time on (Google Chrome). This proved to be a good decision as the teachers were able to close and open it at will.

We took them through the smooth board tools giving them tips here and there to help them better grasp how to use it all together.

Figure 10. Madame Mariam made the first attempt at using the smooth board tools with PDF books

This was probably the most fun session we had. We brought up teachers one by one and had them take us through the books of their choice. To help each other understand the tools better, jokes would emerge that were meant to prompt the teacher to use the tools. Things like “I don’t see Hamadi, who is Hamadi in that picture?”- (assuming Hamadi is a character in the story). This joke was meant to prompt the teacher to use the pen and different colors to mark different characters on the page, or to underline key words.

The ladies were particularly interested in this and seemed to use the PDF books + smooth board tools more naturally than when they used the Story Time application from elimu. This is very good as most of the content they will interact with including Tusome content will most likely be in this format.

We went ahead and had a class with the kids, but the teacher was not able to finish as once again power went out leaving us unable to proceed! We therefore agreed to have a class or two the next day.

Figure 11. Madame Hamida during the first class

Figure 12. The Children attentively listening.

We took this time to talk to Mr. Khamis and established that remote assistant may be needed at some point and we therefore went ahead and installed TeamViewer (A remote Access App) on the laptop. Munje has 4G internet coverage so we showed Mr. Khamis how to create a hotspot from his phone and connect to the laptop to give us remote access should they be stuck and we are unable to explain how to sort out the issue clearly. He was very pleased to learn this as it was something he had not done before

Note: The books we were going through were all Tusome content.

 

Day Four – Friday, 13th January 2017

Session 6: Checking Power and Changing Batteries.

Later this evening after power came back we took the opportunity to take the teachers through checking battery levels and changing the batteries on the devices. (Wii Remote and IR Pen).

Stephen Ondeche took the teachers through checking the battery levels of the Wii Remote on the Smooth board software and physically changing the batteries should they need changing.

Session 6: Classes

We started off at around 0900 where we had the first class taught by Mr. Khamis. He taught an English lesson from the Story Time application (HYPERLINK). He did well in teaching the students. The most exciting thing however, was how the pupils were ready to use the pen to answer questions and play games. Considering that these were pupils who were fresh in Class one, being the beginning of the year, their interest in the tech was very hopeful. We believe that with this group of students especially, there are going to be some amazing results. Of course we can only know this with proper evaluation and methods of tracking progress which we already have in part with the Evaluation papers made available by ELimu.

We will be sure to use this and other methods of evaluation to gauge just how much the setup is helping the students.

The next class was a Kiswahili class. The teacher picked out a book from the list we had and quite naturally went through the lesson. The jokes and corrections from the previous day bore fruit as she was much smoother throughout the lesson.

 

At the end of this session we made a point to perform some routine maintenance on some of the computers they have. We even setup story time on one of their desktop computers for them to have access to and practice at any time.

Conclusion

The trip was a successful one, we got so much done in a short time. We also had a great team that was willing to learn and ready to implement. We will continue to work with Munje Primary to help them realize their full capacity with this system. Thank you all again for the opportunity to serve.