intensive workshop: “working for my Dreams” (2/2) – workshop

The workshop has been VERY intensive. My nights-sleep average during the workshop period was four hrs a day approximately. I was the last one to go to bed and usually I got up before the sunrise. This gave me the opportunity to realize the night rhythm in Iringa: first relative quietness (I say relative because in warm environment it is a lot of life, e.g. it easy to hear always crickets, frogs or any other life form which I have no idea they exist). Later at night several dogs bark constantly, no idea about the reason of that barking, either a wild animal comes by and then they give alarm among themselves or just pure conversation. Anyway, the final result is: you hear A LOT of dogs barking. After the dogs, the Iringa’s hens start to make the “kikirike” song (very early ones, around 3 am they start). It follows the mosque prays to finalize with the Christian or Catholic church bells at 7am.

After the night routine, we should be ready for a work day. During the workshop, daily (except Sundays) we had some contact session with the children from two to more than four hrs depending the day. The rest of the day is for review material and prepare material + computers for next day. Prepare is literal, we charge them of electricity. We were VERY lucky that electricity at our location was always present for recharge the machines. Before the workshop there were several black out.

We needed to charge the computer to be sure next day we could work with them, the school had pre-paid electricity and there are not sockets for all the computer to be connected. Then, if we want to depend on charging them on-site each session was not a reliable solution.

Charging of electricity the XO at my room. I should charge usually 12 computers. I had the possibility to connect 3 at the same time, and repeat the procedure 4 times(Photo: Here charging of electricity the XO at my room. We divide the machines between Marcus and I. Usually I charged between 10 to 12 computers. I had the possibility to connect 3 at the same time, and repeat the procedure four times)

Also there were other reason why the workshop was demanding for everybody, including us researchers:

i)     The school pupils  have thirst of knowledge and they are so dedicated and intelligent that we should higher our standards in each session. Today I know, good students demand more from their teachers

ii)    The machines  that our children have (XO’s ) present different and diverse scope of challenges.

iii)     Real time situation. The idea of the workshop (and all the projects I am running) presents the challenge of quality of time and understanding in the all what is involved in the environment. If I want to work together with others, then I must listen more than the average and try to understand. This is energy taking.

iv)    I am fighting for my funding (actively).

v)     Have this responsibility sense that I want to support Latinamerica and for me Africa is a new world. As anyone who goes to a new world, it takes energy.

But I must admit that I land soft, Marcus loves Tanzania and he has something of Tanzanian inside him, then I was in very good hands. He took care of all the details of my time in here (e.g. housing, transport, communication), and he has done awesome preparations for the workshop.  Then, it was my responsibility (and my right), to give my best back to all the great people that surround me in here. In addition, each time I saw the shinning eyes of the children, there is not other excuse just DO YOUR BEST.

Then in brief, the game workshop was an iteration of clear steps:  individuals must think and express themselves. Each new iteration we looked for a higher challenge for them to think about. The cycle consisted of:

a)     Give them a question /challenge

b)    Think individually how they will solve this challenge and write it down (use their XO for this)

(Photo: Children ready to type their own reflection. They were always VERY attentive. )

c)     Discuss in groups about the answers

(Photo: Final individual reflection to be discuss in a team)

(Photo: working in pairs)

d)    Then a  performance (drama) on how this challenge should be solved (each time the groups were differently formed). The children were at charge of everything: script, media, actors, recording, etc.

(Photo: Recording one drama scene – several camera men and women :) )

e)    Reflect in the final results and evaluate if we were ready for the next challenge was the next step. Then the cycle was over and ready for the next one. In the way other activites were present, support, drawing and even playing :)

(Photo: Some technical support, or personalize teaching-learning activity)

(Photo: Some drawings)

(Photo: Some playing)

(Photo: No ALL is digital. I brought them a “children’s map” from German. It was very useful to explain where Marcus and I are originally. We also find Finland and Tanzania, but it was a very nice tool to see the world together.)

(Photo: Bring the server to the session. Unfortunately due to security issues – the school has not a “strong or secure” room for their equipment – therefore they need to find other channels to keep their tools secure. )

Also there were different activities to make each cycle different, for example once we have a whole contest to see the knowledge of kids (solving different math and natural science questions) or making a research about what kind of games the like to play, etc.

We also make a paper prototype of each child to hear how they want her/his webpage to look like (this part of the work is very interesting, because it breaks with diverse assumptions that HCI profess ).  Photos will be published later.

The children not only reflect in their writing about the relevant subjects such as their futures, health, etc. They made their own drawings, record their own dramas, decide how they want the things to be present, they create the whole content of the application. This support another level of understanding for what it is possible to use the ICT tools, and furthermore a sense of “digital-ownership”.

For the functionality of the “game” Mikko Vinni helped us in the distance with the proper functionality in PHP. As Ilka in his visit here help to set up the local server here too. Yes, a lot of quality people and hands were involve in this workshop.  However, still the game needs a some days to polish it properly.

The game in its actual status has been tested with other children who were not in the workshop and with parents. All of the testers mentioned that they  learned from it. In a way I am not surprised  about that, because is the bottom line or the purpose of the whole workshop, and actually from my whole research: We learn  A LOT from others if we only are willing to listen. But it is great that actually that phenomena is not exclusively of any location or person :)   and comments such as: “I am surprise that it can be also things in Swahili in internet”, really melted my heart.

Then is mainly the workshop in VERY brief. More things will be posting (as from other activities). However I want to express my gratitude to the children, to the tutors of Tumaini (Innocence, Timothy and Miraji), to the teachers of the school, to Marcus, to Mikko, to Ilkka and the whole community too, which were so supportive in the activity.

Btw, for those who advice me to ready for unexpected events I can assure I was not expecting that we will have almost 100% assistance for the duration of the workshop (two weeks and 17 children were enrolled). The children came even in Saturdays and some days work over time. We only have 3 absences each one in three different days. I am very impress and thankful with all of them.

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