Archive for the ‘awareNet’ Category
This year, we have started collaborating with the Rhodes University Department of Journalism and Media Studies. Rod Amner is supervising a group of third year students that will do their practical with and about our awarenet programme.
Aim of the course
This course was developed in response to a perceived lack of congruence between the ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’ streams of our undergraduate curriculum. By exploring this relationship between ideas about journalism’s role and the alternative assumptions and practices of various ‘journalisms’, the JDD-CMP course aims to bring together – through critique – the Media Studies and Media Production components of the third year curriculum.
Students will be asked to contribute in some way to the goals of ‘democratisation’ and ‘development’ in Grahamstown, by practicing public/ civic journalism, development journalism, citizens’/participatory journalism or radical journalism. All these approaches are predicated, in one way or another, upon critiques of routinised forms of ‘mainstream’ journalism, and offer diverse ideas and methods for producing ‘better’ – meaning, alternatively, more purposive, civic-minded, principled, engaged, inclusive, bottom-up, exhaustive, systematic, innovative, oppositional, and reflexive – ways of doing news work.
We are very happy about their interest and enthusiasm. Their aim is exactly in line with our ideals and we hope to get the most out of this collaboration by supporting them as best as we can. Their exact project themes and work will be decided on soon, and we will report about the outcome. We are looking forward to a fruitful and fun time together!
Sanele Ntshingana, VSA volunteer and awarenet project coordinator reports about his own project:
“On the 28th of April, Sunday- a group of 7 learners from Mary Waters High School who are currently doing the “Anti-littering Campaign” went to Rhodes University Journalism Department to record an Anti-littering campaign awareness audio clip.
All the 7 hip, fresh and enthusiastic Awarenet learners participated in the recording of the audio clip which will be used for anti-littering awaress. These learners were so excited and they jumped around the Africa Media Matrix studio facilities, full of joy as it was for many of them their first time to be engulfed by microphones in a recording studio.
With the constant practise of the two page anti-littering campaign drama script, the learners showed their perfection abilities as they fluently recorded the script without any hustles, their voices blending very well ending up producing a very good sound- this is plausible.
“It was very worthwhile to spend an hour with the enthusiastic learners on a Sunday than maybe sitting in my room watching a movie or something”
The audio clip will be embedded with “anti-littering awareness campaign” picture that will be taken on Wednesday, 01 May at the Kowie River by Marry Waters High school where Rhodes students in collaboration with awarenet CM Vellem Higher Primary School and Mary Waters High School leaners will clean the local river for awareness to the local Grahamstown community.”
This year, the VSA organised its first awarenet Open Day to present the programme to the community and to attract more teachers from new schools to take part in the programme. Viv Quin organised the event and decided that CM Vellem Higher Primary School would be a good example due to their long participation and reliability, so the Open Day took place in Joza-Grahamstown.
Mrs Quin reports: “I was extremely happy with how the Open Day went. The computer lab at CM Vellem HPS was full, each two children had to share a computer. Teachers and other interested community members arrived from four other schools, namely Fikisolo Primary School, The Seventh Day Adventist School, Samuel Ntsiko Primary School and Archie Mbolekwa School. Once everyone had arrived, Mrs Penney gave an overview of the awarenet platform and programme using the projector. The children then wrote a blog about their schools and received sponsored gifts, such as exam/note pads and pens. The teachers were also very involved assisting the learners as they worked on their blogs.They also made suggestions and offered to help putting new teaching aids onto awarenet. The local newspaper Grocott’s Mail had sent a reporter and will report about the event, soon.”
The next steps are to investigate the new schools computer labs and to organise awarenet access for them. Then, we will give a workshop to train the teachers in awarenet use. We will continue to support them by inviting them to current awarenet projects and to the teachers’ network. We are looking forward to a good cooperation. Please, contact us, if you are a teacher and also interested to take part in the awarenet programme.
The International Girls’ in ICT Day is on the 25. of April 2013 this year. It is an initiative backed by ITU Member States in ITU Plenipotentiary Resolution 70 (Guadalajara, 2010) to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
The VSA will contribute by organising the first awarenet Open Day in Grahamstown. The Joza community and especially the girls and theirs mothers are invited to come to CM Vellem Higher Primary School between 1 and 3pm (on Friday 26/04/13, due to organisational constraints) to find out what can be done with awarenet, what the benefits are and how they can join. Further, we want to encourage more teachers to use awarenet to enhance their teaching.
Format: There will be a welcome desk, where visitors will receive general information. An awarenet coordinator and several volunteers will be present in the lab along with learners from CM Vellem School to present awarenet, its 3rd party content and the learners’ awarenet projects via the projector and single computers. Visitors can join awarenet on the day and – by participating actively – win prizes. There are no entry fees or charges.
We are looking forward to meet all the new girls and their families!
The VSA has presented the awarenet programme and itself as social entrepreneur to students of the Berlin School of Economics and Law on Wednesday, 17/4/13. We were invited by Prof Sven Ripsas, who teaches and coordinates courses about social entrepreneurship for students. During the summer semester, the students will have to analyse social enterprises or write a business plan for one of them. We have asked them to help us with a business model, which should include a financial plan and a marketing strategy. They will decide within the next 2-3 weeks, which task they will tackle. We hope that a small, interested group will work with us and are looking forward to the summer with them!
The VSA has a new partner: Inkululeko, a Non-Profit Organization based in Grahamstown, whose mission is to empower youth in South Africa through supplemental education and opportunity. Through our current volunteer Sanele Ntshingana, we were introduced to Inkululeko, their work and their Head, Jason Torreano, who suggested to integrate the awarenet Programme into their own programme.
Matthew Kellen of Inkululeko describes their vision like this: “It is Inkululeko’s ambition to support the educational personal development of grade 8 youths from the impoverished neighborhoods of Grahamstown, South Africa. To best support their needs, we need to fill gaps in their education, support what is happening currently in their classrooms, and go beyond what is happening in their classroom to further develop concepts taught. To do this requires balancing what we provide our youths. The VSA is doing an excellent job of developing computer literacy as well as helping develop critical thinking skills.
By providing prompts that provoke a critical thinking response, we would be able to build computer skills as well as critical thinking skills. Our hope is that with the help of Terri-Lynn Penney providing occasional support, we could have our youths engage in the exciting projects and opportunities the VSA has to offer to take our youths beyond what is happening in the classrooms.”
We are very much looking forward to this partnership and believe that this is the way forward to a sustainable and effective use of awarenet. Thank you for your trust, Inkululeko.
In association with the British Council and the Department of Basic Education, we are running an awarenet project at VG High School to generate language learning materials for rural and disadvantaged schools in South Africa.
A LifePlayer is a portable, wind up and solar powered radio and MP3 player, designed for use in underdeveloped countries and situations where access to information and infrastructure such as electricity is often lacking. The LifePlayer allows people to access information from around the world through radio broadcasts. The British Council has sponsored the donation of 900 LifePlayers to rural schools in South Africa, where access to learning resources and particularly electrical appliances and the internet is very limited if available at all.
The British Council LifePlayers have a number of English language learning resources pre-loaded on them. However, this content has been made in the United Kingdom and is not directed at either a South African audience or the South African additional language curriculum.
Learners at VGHS have prepared set texts from the intermediate phase additional language curricula and these have been recorded as short podcasts, which can be distributed with the LifePlayers around South Africa. awarenet learners under the supersivion of Dr Sarah Hanton have had to learn about how to use their voices to tell a story, how to make their own sound effects and how to perform for radio broadcast.
The project is currently presented at SciFest 2013 in Grahamstown. You can find us in the monument, 3rd floor. Here is a little sneak preview of what you can expect: Frog and Crow get the Wrong Message. Have a listen, we think, it’s amazing!
We proudly announce that awarenet will be presented to the public at SciFest for the second time. The Science Festival in Grahamstown starts today and is ends next week on the 19/03/13 – plenty of time to have a look at the learning network, to login and explore the features and content.
You will also have the opportunity to chat to our regular awarenet users, learners and teachers from various schools in Grahamstown as well as to our awarenet coordinators and the volunteers, who work together with the learners on various awarenet projects.
This year, we additionally present a very special project: In association with the British Council and the Department of Basic Education, we are running an awarenet project at VGHS to generate language learning materials for rural and disadvantaged schools in South Africa, using the Life Player.
The Life Players have a number of English language learning resources pre-loaded on them. However, this content has been made in the United Kingdom and is not directed at either a South African audience or the South African additional language curriculum.
Learners at VGHS have prepared set texts from the intermediate phase additional language curricula and these have been recorded as short pod casts, which can be distributed with the Life Players around South Africa. The awarenet groups have had to learn about how to use their voices to tell a story, how to make their own sound effects and how to perform for radio broadcast.
Visit us at the SciFest to learn more about the project, the collaboration and the Life Player.
The awarenet Peace Song Collection CD is out and distributed to all the participants of the project. The VSA organised a launch party to celebrate the event appropriately and thank everyone wholeheartedly who was involved in the awarenet theme song project.
Terri-Lynn Penney organised the event (Fr, 1/2/13 at Nombulelo SS hall) and invited awarenet users, teachers, other NGOs in Grahamstown and the press.The crowd was excited, music was played and everyone danced and mingled. During the ceremony, a speech was given by Terri-Lynn Penney. She also played the songs and showed the music video by Mary Waters HS. Then, CDs were given out to all involved in the project.
During the course of the project, an independent HipHop group formed at Nyaluza PSS called Teen Legacy. They were also given the chance to perform for everyone and showed off what they had learned since then, followed by Inyaniso, the senior HipHop band that taught the awarenet learners last year how to perform and rap. Everything was very exciting, the launch a great success!
The project will be repeated this year, starting after the Arts Festival in July to bring learners on stage and perform on Peace Day, 21/09/13. Contact us if you would like to participate with your friends or your learners!
There are a great many excellent educational resources on the internet – some have even been produced specifically for African and underprivileged kids. Unfortunately, the digital divide makes it very difficult for these resources to wind up in the hands of those who need them most. Content is great, and there is great content, but to be an effective supplement to education it also needs systems for distribution and management, which allow timely updates and feedback, and measurements of learner engagement with the materials. Most of all, it needs educators and support staff who know the content and can incorporate it into their teaching.
We’ve long wanted to use awarenet to help address this problem. From the first version we included features to allow learning materials to be collected, curated and distributed on awarenet. The latest version takes this further – teachers and technical staff can now use awarenet’s package management system to install the content which they need on their local awarenet instance, or build their own packages from sources on the web. Learners then have fast, local access to resources such as digital textbooks, video lessons, past exam papers, and can download them to their lab accounts or mobile devices. Since mobile awarenet nodes can create their own wireless network, no internet or other infrastructure is needed at the point of use – though a computer lab with mains electricity is preferable.
The default set of content packages we’d like to set up on all awarenet servers includes textbooks from Siyavula (English and Afrikaans), past exam papers provided by South Africa’s Department of Basic Education (multilinual) and video lessons on all subjects from Khan Academy (English) and the University of Cape Town (isiXhosa). We’re also looking into including collections from Project Gutenberg (multilingual), WikiHow, the Wikipedia Selection for Schools, Geogebra and many other sources.
Learners in many Eastern Cape schools have very restricted access to textbooks and teachers. We want to help provide the best available substitute – digital books and recorded instruction provided by world class educators, preferably in learner’s home languages. Where schools don’t have staff or funds for a working library we’d like to put one on every capable phone. Even in more developed countries schools can benefit from these, and need tools to manage these resources and track their use.
If you’re a teacher and know of free or open source materials which you think we should be including, please let us know in the comments.