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Mdedeleni JS School

I started teaching computers to Grades 7 - 9 at the school here this week - and it's very interesting. My plan was to focus heavily on Tux-Typing initially, but we ran into a bottleneck on the server's network card (100mb) so I had to improvise, and get people doing different things. It was difficult because the several teachers on-hand to oversee and assist were quite obstructive and intent on following a 1 teacher to many pupils type methodology.

Eventually we had a little meeting and I explained that the objective was to allow the children to learn to use the mouse and keyboard naturally - by exploring different games and drawing activities - and to my surprise I got 100% agreement and cooperation... although I suspect I have a problem with at least one teacher...

There are plenty of games on the server, as well as other activities like math and spelling programs - but I haven't identified anything practical to work with yet... although it's fun seeing which kids bounce around with what apps... and which ones are intent on practicing their touch typing - determined to escape their rural bounds. It's actually amazing. (That probably sounds patronizing. I don't mean to be, believe me.)

To keep children interested and exploring - without a curriculum structure - is a major challenge. Dr Ohlhoff of Sergo Maths has promised some old DOS versions for us to try and fiddle into working on DOSEMU. (Or just boot into them on floppy disk *ponder*)

My immediate goal is to get each (interested, extracurricular) child on a mail server - with their own personal copy of Evolution running... and perhaps also get Drupal running on the server so that anyone who wants one can have their own "journal"...

This weekend I need to spend some time on the server to get the network and display drivers working... and hopefully install Drupal and Moodle. I really need to learn Moodle. This time I must remember it's wget -c NOT -r! The partial download 'continue' option is badly broken on Safari. Unless it's upstream proxies... Cell providers don't know much about running an ISP, it must be said. GRiPeS ;-)

The schools have been sponsored with a WiFi network to connect them - which will be installed in November. . . (Zithulele hospital and the clinic here will also be linked . . . and from Zithulele we're also in fortunate line of sight to Tafelahashi and Zwelenqaba where there are some exciting ICT4D projects happening through Ron Wertleman of eKhayaICT . . . .

The network topology is pretty simple and we'll use dual Mikrotik routerboards and antennas at the intermediate points so things don't bottleneck.

And then . . . at last . . . there'll be a VSAT internet connection for the schools! The schools are prepared to pay R500 p/m each for their internet feed and we are hoping to raise the balance through the backpackers, hotels and cottage owners.

The school has run out of water. I came around the back of it on my run today . . . past the toilets . . . . Pheeeueweee! That's a freaking health hazard!

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