A very exciting new chapter for the PISCES Project began last week when we met with three Peace Corps volunteers located in Chuuk, FSM. Pictured below, from left, are Ben Walter, Melody Alvarez, and Elana Meitler, who will be leading teacher training in technology use at the Chuuk Lagoon schools where they are stationed. Also pictured are Bruce Baikie and TR Mori, PISCES team leaders. It was fantastic to see them again and hear about the adventures they’ve had since we’d last seen them in March, as well as to hear about some of the exciting initiatives they’ve spearheaded in conjunction with the Department of Education—including working together on developing and establishing a repository of lesson plans for teachers at the state-wide level.
After catching up with them, we were eager to give them the training syllabus that our team (see the previous post) had written over the past semester, with 10 suggested lesson plans for teaching first-time technology users. We’re eager for their feedback on what was useful and what can be improved in the next edition.
We next showed them the solar chargers we had brought for Melody and Elana, as their schools currently do not have electricity. We were very excited to have found these Ready Set Solar kits, from Fenix International, as they provide an affordable, easy-to-use charging solution for tablets, as well as for mobile phones, which will be stationed at the schools on Romanum and Fefen islands, respectively.
We held a solar set-up training session outside of the iSolutions cyber-café, which was simple, straightforward, and attracted the attention of passers-by (as well as one curious canine!)
The next day, we had a training session on using the tablets, and on the contents of the of the educational server we had set up, which contains a repository of educational materials, based on the RACHEL server, but localized for Micronesia in much of its content. This server’s content will be available via a high-speed intranet that is already set up at the iSolutions cyber-café, and will soon be available to the schools at which the Peace Corps volunteers are stationed, once the paperwork is finalized with Telecom FSM and the long-distance WiFi links can be established by the PISCES team.
We are so excited for this opportunity to be working together with the Peace Corps and for the possibility to have locally-based teacher-trainers at these island schools. We’ve asked Melody, Elana, and Ben to weigh in on whether the tablets are the desirable form factor, or whether ruggedized laptops would be preferable moving forward, as we plan to set up computer labs at their schools in the future. However, since I am of the opinion that the most important success factor for computers-in-the-schools initiatives are the teachers’ attitudes towards and use of the technology, it is really wonderful that we can start off this initiative with teacher training.
We are very eager for the school year to start in a few weeks, and to hear from the Peace Corps volunteers how things are going!