This year, the wireless link provided by the Rhodes University CoE for Ntsika Secondary’s Internet access has not been stable enough to use for awareNet classes. There has been barely enough bandwidth for the staff to do email. There are not enough resources to solve the problems with wireless link, and a fix is scheduled for later in the year.
This is a very common and very real situation in our schools. It’s also a common situation in other African schools in African centres, where Internet is becoming more and more important to education.
awareNet is designed to solve this problem — and it has successfully been doing so at Ntsika school for the last two weeks!
The results have been amazing! The following diagrammes show how the system works:
AT NTSIKA SECONDARY SCHOOL (figure 1)
1. Take a simple R2500 laptop loaded with an awareNet server (free).
2. Plug the server into the LAN.
3. Do an awareNet class on the mobile server – let the children socially network!
4. Unplug the mobile server and take it back to the office…
AT OUR VSA OFFICE (figure 2)
1. Purchase inexpensive high-speed Internet (1Mbps, uncapped data transfer) – we recently did this because prices dropped! This connection is (as so often) not available in the township where copper wire required by ADSL is commonly stolen.
2. Plug-in the mobile server at night and allow it to synchronise.
Step 2 is really simple! The process is completely automatic and there’s nothing to do except attach to our office WiFi LAN. The mobile server automatically synchronises with the rest of the awareNet network, bringing blogs, forum updates, project posts from the kids at Ntsika to the ‘Net and vice-versa.
THE TOTAL DISTANCE TRAVELLED BY THE LAPTOP PER DAY IS 20 KM (figure 3).
This month Masifunde in Port Elizabeth will start using a mobile awareNet server, so we thought we should also use one at Ntsika.
Masifunde is the first of a number of NGO partners who will start bringing awareNet to their learners to bolster technology familiarity and awareness.