The twelve months have passed so quickly – it seems that we were in Fiji only a few months ago. Well – time flies and our work in Fiji is upon us. A lot of time and effort has gone into this round of the project and we have certainly built on some of our experience from last year. We had a few objectives for this year. Firstly, we had access to more laptops – so we had to find schools where they could be donated. Secondly, from our experience last year, we felt that teachers needed some professional development in the areas of ICT and library management. So our approach was to develop a PD model.
There were issues that needed to be dealt with before the laptops reached the classrooms in Fiji. The first of set of issues were technological in nature:
We were able to get some laptops from the Faculty of Science and Technology – thanks to the support of Professor Martin Betts and his staff – Kelvin, Veronica, and Peter. We had mix of Toshiba’s, Mac’s and Dell’s. All had at least 2GB of RAM and 80GB of HDD. Through the support of Issac Pursehouse – Engineers Without Borders(EWB) we got Windows 7 licenses. To keep the costs to a minimum, we sourced and loaded software (free downloads) in the following categories – learning, media players, multimedia, office, screen capture, social networking, thinking tools, utilities, video games, virus protection and web browsers. We were very fortunate to have had the support of Andy Ng and Bernard Li of the International Student Services for their assistance with the uploads – thanks to Graeme Baguley. This process takes a significant amount of time and Andy and Bernard’s put in a lot of time to load the operating system machines and the software.
Once the laptops were “tuned”, we had to deal with second set of issues, which were logistical, and two layered. The first layer dealt with issues associated with getting the laptops into Fiji.
The second layer dealt with issues that were connected with the PD and the distribution of laptops.
The content of the PD sessions presented the next set of challenges. It is always difficult to work out the level that the teachers are at in terms of their ICT knowledge (TPACK) and library services. We did administer a survey – but the response was not crash hot. So for the workshops, we planned on a series of activities and were ready to deliver it on the basis of what we believed that the majority of the participants would benefit the most. We developed 11 activities – that were available online to the participants. This was uploaded to the ict4fiji.wordpress.com website. Through the approach the use of paper was minimized. The other advantage of this approach was that the website could be copied to the laptops and used by the teachers during the sessions. Most importantly this site was meant to serve as a thread between the teachers, head teachers, MOE and us. The users had the option of commenting on the activities via the blog. They could also use this site to upload their ideas.
So finally we are ready to roll!