During our second implementation trip in December 2011, our team had three key large-group meetings: two with the EFACAP teachers and administration, and one with the parents of the schoolchildren. The next few posts will cover these meetings, including notes from the meetings, as well as what I found to be the important take-aways.
Meeting with the teachers, Dec 13: We took the opportunity to introduce ourselves and to explain our entire project, as well as our overall intentions in being there. We hadn’t fully realized this before, but we never had the chance to explain to the teachers about the solar system we deployed in August, because regular school was not in session when we were there, and since we finished the installation on the final evening of that trip, we just ran out of time for such an explanation, in any case. Even so, we had believed that somehow it would have been conveyed to these teachers that this solar project, which was the main reason for our involvement in the laptop project in general, was at the initiative of the Ministry of Education. It had not been.
So we started from the beginning, explaining that OLPC-Haiti, under the Ministry of Education, had asked us to design and deploy a solar powering system to charge the laptops that had been donated to Haiti, because they were unable to power them at the school. We tried to make clear that we were not affiliated with OLPC; that our involvement with the project was the solar powering part of it, which we were approached and specifically asked to do, and that we had raised all of our own funds to do this.
We asked whether the teachers had received XO laptops of their own, trying to gauge their technology familiarity and whether they were using them in the classrooms now that they could charge them. The teachers claimed that they each received a laptop as part of the program. They said they only use them at school, and sometimes they use them to prepare lessons. They pointed to my laptop that I had brought with me to this meeting, and expressed unanimously that they really wanted to have “grown up” computers for themselves.
We asked which subjects they use the XOs for in class, and were told: math, writing, social sciences, and experimental sciences.
They also see the students using the laptops outside of class for: photos, music, sounds, drawing, maze. With the younger students, they use them to play games in class.
These teachers claim to have no problem with the fact that the students learn technology faster than the teachers do. (This was a surprise for me! Usually teachers express the opposite!)
The teachers claim that both the students and the teachers use the laptops to do work outside of class.
The EFACAP school teaches grades 1-9, and grades 7-9 do not have laptops, and they very much want them. There’s a sense that they don’t understand why the younger students would get the laptops when the older students get nothing. (I’ve certainly witnessed this sentiment before.)
The teachers further reported that they use the laptops in the classroom about 2 hours per week. If the computers were in the classroom permanently, they feel they’d be able to use them all day.
We next inquired what would they like to be able to do with the computers. They’d like to be able to use the Internet. They were thrilled when we told them we were bringing the Internet, and they set up a separate meeting with us two days later, for us to teach them how to get online. That was a very interesting experience, to try to teach adults who had NEVER used the Internet before, to do so on the XO laptops….so I will save that for a future post.) They also find the XOs too slow, and reiterated their wish that they could have real computers.
Finally, we gave them a tour of the solar system, and asked if they’d be willing to teach the students about solar power, and they said yes.
They also told us that they all wanted to come to the US. They said they’d organize everything in terms of passports and organization of when to come, but they really wanted to all make a group trip to the US, to see how we live there. They also were very strongly pushing that I bring them grown up computers the next time I come. I explained to them about how all of the work we had done so far was mainly funded through two large grants we had applied for and were successfully awarded. They let me know that, since I had had so much success before, they were confident I’d be able to get a grant to get them computers.
We have another idea for a computer lab for the EFACAP school–so stay tuned!