Archive for the ‘Mary Waters’ tag
One of the awarenet champions, Mrs Funeka Jacob (teacher at Mary Waters High School) has recently started her Masters in “Investigating the Use of ICT in Collaborative Learning”. She is enrolled at Rhodes University and now researches how working in groups enhances teaching and learning, taking awarenet as an example.
Mrs Jacob is a very pro-active teacher and already got in touch with the VSA and awarenet in 2010 during an ACE Course for teachers at Rhodes University, in which awarenet was also used to further educate teachers in ICT and Internet use. She has been teaching how to work with awarenet during several projects, so her Masters is a logical consequence. We are very happy about this development and are looking forward to her research outcomes!
You can read a first blog about her research on awarenet. “My study will investigate the use of ICT in collaborative learning through awarenet as a social network. In awarenet learners interact with one another individually and also work in groups, locally and also across the globe. It has a potential to bring learners all over the world together in collaborative learning.”
Today is Peace Day! Exactly one year ago, the awareNet Peace Day Concert happened in Grahamstown, South Africa, in partnership with Peace One Day, who will tonight give another huge Global Truce 2012 Concert in London, UK.
Subsequently, Corinne Cooper and Lunga Heleni from Sonic Art Studio recorded all 5 schools’ songs about Peace and Roderich Zipp from Sota Productions directed the music video for the winner of the best song: Mary Waters High School. Today, we release the CD and we are proud to be a Peace One Day partner again and to present such amazing young people who want to share their vision with you and the world!
Our original plan was to repeat the awareNet Song Competition Project and organise the next concert for this year’s Peace Day, but the lack of funding destroyed our plans. You can support us by buying a CD or investing in the awareNet programme, so that the project can be repeated for next year’s Peace Day – a step towards a better and more peaceful world, towards better educated and happier children.
Believe us, they are proud and happy to be part of such a project, because they experience how their voices can be heard!
Are you aware yet?
This blog provides more information to the music CD The awareNet Peace Song Collection 2011, which will be published soon.
The challenge – write a theme song for awareNet
Popular music culture is big amongst the youth worldwide – in Grahamstown East the Rap and Hip Hop music forms are particularly popular ways in which the youth express their hopes, joys, fears and frustrations of daily life. In July 2011, Anna Wertlen, with Corinne Cooper, Lunga Heleni and the local HipHop group Inyaniso, visited schools in Grahamstown East to present the VSA’s new awareNet project.
We put the idea out there that awareNet needed a theme song and invited five groups of learners to write the lyrics and develop the music in the studio. Corinne Cooper, who owns a music studio in Grahamstown, and Lunga Heleni, a professional recording artist, assisted with the project on an entirely voluntary basis. Their role was to help tap into the learner’s hidden talents and give them a good grounding in the skills required for writing, creating, performing and recording music. With a small window of eight weeks the challenge was on, and at the end of it they would perform in front of their peers and community at the awareNet Peace Day Celebrations in September 2011 in conjunction with PeaceOneDay.
The process – training the young musicians
The process was entirely voluntary with learners who had an interest in music committing themselves to the project. Every week we visited the five schools – Benjamin Mahlasela SS, Nombulelo SS, Mary Waters HS, Nathanial Nyaluza PSS and Victoria Girls HS – and helped the learners with their choice of words, rhyming and scansion, as well as educated them about the important difference between underground and commercial forms of rap, the former of which tends to be more subversive and the latter which is rap in its more popular form and which sells. They were also taught performance techniques for their debut on the music stage. They grand prize the young musicians were aiming for was to have their song recorded.
The broad aim of the project was to demonstrate not only how literacy skills are important for self-expression, but also how opinions and feelings can be shared through popular culture, performance, and later through a variety of social networking applications. At first meeting we discovered learners who knew little more about the process of transferring knowledge other than to be passive receivers of the information being shared with them. Slowly, over the two months there was a noticeable shift in attitude and they began to actively participate and gain the confidence to begin sharing their own ideas. And so the awareNet theme song project came to life. The learner’s confidence grew to such an extent that they began to start up their own things and at Nyaluza PSS, where the school system literally fails the children, the learners even started their own band and began writing their own lyrics.
Many of the learners who attend the awareNet social networking workshops have very little idea of what to do on a social network. An important focus of our workshops is to combine real-life issues experienced by these learners with their computer work in order to demonstrate how technology is of relevance in the real world and not just a skill to be acquired. This approach enhances their passion for the computer and its abilities and it begins to makes sense to them to know how to read and write, which is the basic skill underpinning the necessary tools for operating a computer.
Making music and social commentary
To start the process of writing the lyrics, the learners were given just a few ideas – such as awareness, peace and your life – and the songs that were inspired by each group were remarkably unique. The Mahlasela group portrayed their school and their lives in their community; Nombulelo wrote about the drug problem at their school; Mary Waters were visionaries and wrote about crime and war; the Nyaluza group used religion as their departure point; and the Victoria Girls group were about self-esteem in a world where social norms in terms of body image put a lot of pressure on the youth.
With the help of a young professional music artist, Gabriel Spilkin, to get the right backing for their lyrics, four out of the five school groups made their own melody while the fifth chose rap as their main musical medium. The end products were five startlingly relevant songs containing social commentary written by the learners that would convey a heartfelt message to their communities at the Peace Day celebrations.
The awareNet workshops are all about computer skills, reading and writing, and most importantly community outreach – and this was a project that spoke directly to our aim to inspire social change by encouraging communities to think about education differently. The five groups of learners had directly experienced how education can occur outside of the school too; and we had realised our aim to encourage the learners to take ownership of their own education, believe in their ability to lead their peers, and to help us create a system of champions of change in their communities.
At the awareNet Peace Day celebrations in September the crowd’s response made it clear that the Mary Water’s group of three rap artists took the prize for the music video. However, we felt that all five groups had grown in so many ways, not least in stature as leaders amongst their peers. Generous sponsorship from Makana Municipality for the hiring of the venue, music equipment, transport and recording has allowed us to record all five songs for this CD.
And, to fittingly crown the success of the awareNet theme song project, we are pleased to announce that the ECSPIRT Project made it into the second round at the 2012 Impumelelo Social Innovations Awards – watch this space to see our progress into the final rounds.
More about awareNet
awareNet allows the creation of student communities in a safe, rich environment that spans the digital divide. This is free, open source software that has the potential to bring learners all over the world together in a collaborative learning experience, thereby expanding young people’s worlds beyond the confines of their local communities. .
A unique feature of awareNet is that it allows the creation of a single social network that brings the network to its users, instead of expecting them to come to the full Internet, which is too expensive for the majority of the many potential users in Africa. awareNet can be hosted locally within a mesh, allowing a large number of servers worldwide, all of which may only have intermittent access to each other. This allows participants to use rich technologies (multimedia) in collaborative projects with other learners anywhere in the Internet. Responses may be delayed, but they are at least enabled.
Learners on a mesh network or a LAN can make use of the broadband Internet to produce strong local content (including videos, their own music, and picture galleries) and share it overnight with learners in the rest of the world.
awareNet is being developed further in close cooperation with the learners to adapt its functionality precisely to their needs while they learn basic computer skills. This method particularly motivates the learners to cooperate in a focused manner, because changes are visible immediately. New insights into the perceptions of young African users may make awareNet a highly popular tool, helping bring Africa onto the Internet and making generations of young Africans more aware of our global community.
We believe that we can make this system work through the funding we receive to employ mediators from the community who are already thinking about education differently. NGOs such as Masifunde Learner Development and IkamvaYouth already have their local champions who are willing to share their knowledge. We aim to encourage such NGOs to use awareNet to learn how to use social networking to share tools such as educational videos for learners and lesson plans for teachers.
It pays off to be an awareNet user. Apart from working on exciting projects together with learners from various different schools, you often have the possibility to be rewarded with things like free theater visits, restaurant outings, scientific tours or – in this case – free tickets to the Eastern Cape Schools Festival 2012 in Grahamstown.
The Grahamstown Foundation is a continuous partner of the Village Scribe Association and has offered us for the 3rd time in a row free tickets for our learners. This year, 13 grade 11 learners from Mary Waters HS will participate together with Mrs Funeka Jacobs, our awareNet coordinator at that school. Last year, the learners came from Benjamin Mahlasela SS, Nathaniel Nyaluza PSS and Ntsika SS. Again, the learners will document what they have learned during the Festival and then write a bulletin on awareNet. Have a look at the EC Schools Fest Bulletin from last year and look out for this year’s bulletin. We will inform you once it’s out.
Everyone is very excited and would like to thank the Grahamstown Foundation for their community work!
The beginning of the year was very difficult for the governmental schools in the Eastern Cape. Again, the temporary teachers’ posts were unassured and SADTU decided that all teachers had to go ‘Go Slow’. In the end – as usual – mainly the learners suffered from all the regulations and protests. At many schools, days ended early on a regular basis and additional teacher meetings reduced classes even further. Learners started worrying that they would miss too much to make it trough exams once again.
Also the VSA had great difficulties to work at the schools as usual since we are dependent on the teachers and principals to open up computer labs for us and inform us about time changes. Many awareNet sessions were cancelled. But we also had some very good conversations with teachers and principals and listened carefully to their problems and needs. In the end, we understood the situation much better and were able to work around it.
On the contrary, learners who participate in any of our awareNet workshops seem to enjoy the practical and challenging work a lot and excitedly talk about it to their peers. As a result, more and more learners approach us independently to ask for additional awareNet sessions in the afternoons when regular school has ended. We were able to accommodate them and principals and teachers agreed to keep the computer labs open for longer – a great achievement!
Also the teachers are more and more aware of the possibilities that come with integrating awareNet into their classes. We appointed two new awareNet teachers at Mary Waters HS and CM Vellem HPS who are now able to teach awareNet independently from the VSA – another step forward in awareNet’s sustainability.
The VSA published a short film about the music event on Peace Day. Have a look at the outcome of our wonderful project, in which learners from 5 schools in Grahamstown learned how to use computers and the Internet, how to write HipHop lyrics and perform them on stage in only 2 months.
Please, watch this video on YouTube.
All of this could not have been possible without our partners: eKhaya ICT, Sonic Art Studio, Inyaniso and Peace One Day. Thank you for the fantastic collaboration!
We had a fantastic music event at Peace Day yesterday, here in Grahamstown-South Africa! We celebrated Peace and awareNet with great HipHop music that was composed especially for this event. It took us only 2 months to get five groups together and train them to perform their own song in the contest while they learned how to use computers and the Internet in a productive and creative manner.
In the beginning, we showed Jeremy Gilley’s short movie about Peace One Day to give everyone the background about our cooperation. Then, there was a motivational message from Sakhile Moleshe, a musician who also grew up in the Eastern Cape and is now an international celebrity. We had great guest artists: Inyaniso, the Boys in Motion, Keegan Too Chilled Prince and Roddy Zipp. The judges, Erika Wertlen from Left2Write, Jared Lang and the latter two guest artists who all took their duty very seriously. And last but not least the prizes for the best song (Mary Waters High School: professional music video), best rapper (Benjamin Mahlasela SS: head phones and an Inyaniso CD) and best singers (also MWHS: Inyaniso CDs), sponsored by SonicArtStudio, the Makana Municipality, well and us. We even had to quickly hand out an additional certificate for the best group who showed us true heart and peaceful awareness: Victoria Girls High School. Thank you all for putting so much energy, money and passion into the training, songs and judging! You were fantastic!
We loved all the songs so much that we decided that they will all be recorded. We will make an awareNet Peace Day album and turn this into a new tradition here in Grahamstown. Watch out for more next year on Peace Day, 21/09/12, the Day of Global Truce!
What an excitement again!
We have worked very hard the last weeks to train learners how to use computers and the Internet using awareNet while training them how to rhyme, sing and rap a HipHop song. All of this is now documented in a short film which will be screened on Peace Day at both, Noluthando Hall in Grahamstown and at the O2 Arena in London, UK.
Today, we had a first rehearsal at a school assembly which gave us a first taste of what the Peace Day Celebration might look like. Amazing!
The VSA organised a Movie Day on Youth Day screening “Alive with Possibility” by Symphonia at Mary Waters High School in Grahamstown followed by an extraordinary awareNet session. We are proud to report that the event went very well and left the awareNet users very enthusiastic and motivated.
They enjoyed the spirit and spontaneously started singing an Alive-with-Possibility-Song followed by the pop song “We are the world…”. One learner gave a short speech all of which was recorded and is currently being uploaded onto YouTube. From there we will transfer them onto awareNet, along with the original documentary, so that all awareNet users can watch and comment them.
We further took pictures that we linked to the awareNet project. The learners were rewarded with a badge on their awareNet profile page and will continue working on that project once next term has started. At the moment they are writing exams. Term will start after the Grahamstown Arts Festival in July.