2019 - 2020
We have been considering the best way to transition our program to a different style of computer or tablet. While the XO laptops seemed like a great choice for our project initially, the software has often proved challenging (it is not at all intuitive for teachers and students to learn and use). A more difficult problem to overcome is that essential parts to repair the XO laptops are no longer being produced and the computers at Nohana and Kokobe are reaching the end of their lifespans. Given those challenges, we have spent much of 2019 exploring options and testing out new devices. We have decided to continue the program with Kindle Fire tablets and are excited about the new possibilities these devices will allow! We have also been developing lessons and working hard to build an offline server that will serve as a database of lessons, e-books, curriculum, and other resources for teachers and students to use. The other main project we have been focusing on is the construction of a new classroom at Kokobe Primary School with a solar powered electrical system for charging tablets and lighting the room, where lessons using the laptops/tablets can be held and a physical library will be housed.
This trip began with many different meetings in Maseru aimed at fundraising and increasing local support for our project. We also met with a variety of community stakeholders in the village of Kokobe. Volunteers then spent several weeks at Kokobe Primary school learning about the curriculum being used by the teachers, designing new lessons for the laptops that matched the curriculum, and co-teaching student lessons with Kokobe teachers using the computers.
Volunteers spent 3.5 weeks working with teachers and students at Kokobe Primary school. We delivered mice and headsets for students to use as well as a few parts to repair laptops, but this trip focused on training as opposed to equipment delivery. Volunteers used Scratch programming to design math lessons that would support the skills teachers were currently teaching in the classroom. The lessons were engaging for students and included a score feature to provide instant feedback to the students as well as the teacher as they circulated to classroom assisting students as needed. Volunteers taught students and teachers how to use the mice and headsets with the computers. We co-taught math lessons to students using the computers with Kokobe teachers. Students were also shown how to set up the solar panels and set up the computers in the classroom since they would be in charge of those aspects after we left.
2013 Laptop Deployment
A group of nine L2L volunteers spent seven weeks in Lesotho working with teachers, students, and community partners. Training continued at Nohana Primary and also began at Kokobe Primary! During this trip 49 XO laptops, 50 portable solar panels, and 4 flash drives were delivered to Kokobe Primary to begin their work with the XO laptops. We brought 8 keyboards for Nohana teachers and 2 PV panels to expand the power system at Nohana Primary. Volunteers also brought a server for each school but had multiple technical difficulties getting the servers up and running, so the servers were taken back to get checked before we try using them again. Lots was accomplished during this training trip! Teachers were trained on how to use the computers at both schools. Volunteers also programmed pre-made lessons for the laptops to go with the curriculum and led computer lessons with the students. At Kokobe, we helped guide community leaders in writing rules and regulations for the use of the computers. Volunteers also interviewed many community stakeholders about the project as part of our ongoing project evaluation.
2011 Laptop Deployment
Janissa traveled to Lesotho from November to December. She put in extra wiring to charge up to 40 laptops at a time and discovered that the current solar system was not operating to full potential due to shade from a nearby tree. Janissa also upgraded all 86 xo laptops at Nohana and added some software, including a math program that kids and teachers love. It turned out that the laptops were not being used very often, so Matlabe will start keeping a log of computer use and scheduling computer times for each class. Even so, students were taking them home regularly and showing their families how to use them. When Janissa arrived, Matlabe had already chosen a school and begun laying the groundwork for expansion. Janissa went with several teachers to visit the school - Kokobe primary. She took two xo laptops and individual solar panels with her and everyone at Kokobe was very excited about the project.
For more details about this trip to Lesotho, read our 2011 Annual Report.
2010 Laptop Development
In December, Janissa and her brother Craig traveled to Lesotho to deliver 48 XO laptops to Nohana School. A small basement room at the school was converted to the generator and power system facility. Janissa and Craig helped set up the generator, install outlets, and set up a charging area in the office.
Six team members spent a day learning about the XO laptops at Kliptown Youth Project and observed the laptops in use at a nearby school. At Nohana Primary School, all eight teachers and both headmasters were extremely eager to learn the laptops. After the training, most of the teachers were able to explore and learn new programs on their own. During the last few days, each teacher created their own lesson plan and taught a class using the computers. Many teachers used the laptops to enhance lesson content, not just to teach computer skills.
For even more details about our trip to Lesotho, read our trip report.