The ideas and thoughts expressed within this blog are not the views or opinions of WorldTeach nor the Namibia Ministry of Education, but rather my personal views.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mr. Goodyear and Mr. Goodwill

My Namibian-Road warrior, hero, mini-vacation buddy, goes by the mortal name of Jonathan Blakley. Besides leaping to Speedy Gonzalez action with tire-changes, Mr. Goodyear (aka Jonathan) also delivered a positive super-boost to the Khorixas Computer-Based Learning Centre during his visit, giving him the honorary title, Mr. Goodwill.

As I mentioned, the Centre’s computers are loaded with PLATO educational learning software, which provides individualized instruction and tutoring to users. One of the highlights of the PLATO learning software, especially in a country seeking to improve English language skills and comprehension, is the audio component. The audio helps users: 1) improve their familiarity with written and spoken English, and 2) better identify and learn complex terms and concepts. The audio also helps set the pace of the lesson.

Due to some oversight in planning, however, headsets were not ordered for the Centre/workstations. I was able to borrow a few sets of external speakers for a few weeks; but, you can imagine the challenges with that solution: 1) the speakers are borrowed – the owners will want them back, 2) the external speakers create excess noise in the Centre possibly distracting clients, and 3) there is a limit to how many speakers are even available to be borrowed.

The Kunene Region Ministry of Education and the Directorate of Research, Science, and Technology noticed and acknowledgement the oversight; however, the procurement process would take some time. I told Jonathan about my challenge and Mr. Goodwill went into action, finding suitable headsets in the States, shipping 30 of them to his home, and then personally delivering them to the Centre during his recent trip. The Deputy Director of the Regional Ministry of Education Office officially received the headsets.

The learners did great working in pairs and teams of as many as four, sharing speakers during our period without headsets. No one complained about sharing, and as a result of the “success,” we may even embrace future opportunities for teamwork from time-to-time. The individual learning, however, is what makes the Centre and PLATO unique. Thanks, Jonathan. As you were able to see during your visit, the learners love the new resource and will make the most of it.

DONATIONS: If you are interested in directly helping the Centre or special computer-based learning projects in Namibia, please let me know. Based on my capacity-building work in Khorixas, I have been approached by the national office (Directorate of Research, Science, and Technology) and asked to directly support the development of various Centres in other parts of the country as well. Your assistance will definitely be useful over the next few months.

NOTE: An extended list of direct contributors to my WorldTeach project in Namibia is included in the column to the left. Many, many others have also provided invaluable support to me and for all of you, I am grateful.

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