Monday, 4 April 2011

Progress Report for ASL

This is a copy of a report I sent to my manager, Bec Lyons, just prior to my leaving Adopt Sri Lanka. For completeness I should mention that the scope of the course included: browser configuring and use, effective web searching, email (including attaching, labelling, distribution groups), photo-editing and managing, security, social media, burning DVDs, using USB memory devices, digital cameras and probably other stuff I've forgotten.

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Computer Training Report
Clive Elsmore 1-April-2011

This short report covers my period of volunteering with Adopt Sri Lanka, from 24th April 2010 to 8th April 2011, during which time I set up and ran a computing training programme for teachers out of ASL's Tangalle office. The central aim of the programme was to improve the effectiveness of communications between Sri Lanakan schools and their overseas twins, as part of ASL’s TWINS Project.

I spent the first three months of the period establishing a small suite of three computers, arranging a data network and power distribution, writing the curriculum and training materials and identifying resources. Additionally I introduced cloud computing to ASL by converting the eighty or so school profiles from MSWord to Google Docs which benefited ASL’s working practices and allowed me to manage the timetable efficiently.

The Computer Training programme started in early July 2010. A timetable was established by Jude and Sanath, the Field Officers at Tangalle. The schedule needed constant maintenance by them to accommodate daily cancellations and rescheduling. The teachers were phoned, usually in the morning of the lessons, to remind them and to account for unexpected absences, leave, meetings or family matters. The programme needed a fair degree of flexibility to maximise the utility of the computers and my time. Google Documents were again used - a spreadsheet for the timetable and linked documents for training records. These in turn were linked to the school profile documents.

Most teachers came in their own time, after work finished at 13:30. Lessons ran from 14:00 to 15:30 and 15:30 to 17:00. Initially we scheduled up to six teachers per period and pressed my laptop into use. However, because the training was tailored to the individual teacher and the teachers varied considerably in experience and ability, and because the personal schedules of the teachers precluded ability-grouping, this number proved impossible to teach to my satisfaction. We soon reverted to a policy of one teacher per computer, with an ideal maximum of three at a time which allowed my laptop to be used for recording progress, partnering the teacher-student in exercises which needed it, or for demonstration purposes.

Because I kept training records it has been possible to produce a few statistics. (If anything, these figures will under-report hours.)

For the teachers who attended 3 or more 90-minute lessons, records show that:
  • 45 teachers received training
  • 31 teachers are currently receiving training (“active”) and 14 stopped coming during the 9 months for a variety of reasons, or were dropped (“passive”).
  • The majority of teachers were trained in the use of three web browsers, three search engines, and search techniques.
  • A total of 848 pupil-hours’ training has been delivered
  • 20 teachers have started emailing their Twin who were not before
  • 10 teachers who were already emailing their Twin have gained in confidence and ability (for example, they are now able to attach photos or reports)
  • Of the 31 “active” teachers, all 24 who are Twins Coordinators have emailed their Twin and the 7 who are not Twins Coordinators have demonstrated their competence to email effectively
  • The 31 “active” teachers have each received 23 hours training on average (range 4.5-37.5 hours)
  • The 14 “passive” teachers have each received 10 hours training on average (range 4.5-19.5 hours)
  • 16 teachers have received training in the use of photo-editing software (Picasa)
  • 10 teachers have received training in the use of VOIP (Skype)
  • 5 teachers have received some training (though not enough to be considered competent) in advanced social media tools (Twitter, Blogging, Google Reader and Tweetdeck)
  • 2 teachers are now actively Skyping with their Twin
  • An unknown (but significant) number of teachers have received some training in the use of Facebook

I intentionally did not perform any formal assessments of progress because
  • the limited timescale and ‘teaching to the test’ would reduce the scope of the course
  • the fact that marks depend on too many variables and are an unreliable indicator of competence
  • because grading is no incentive for improving performance
  • and because ‘failure’ is a disincentive.

My opinion is that all teachers who attended my course have benefited in various ways - at least in terms of confidence but also in terms of ability and knowledge, some markedly so.

Near Future or “Going Forward”
The teachers will continue to improve their competencies if they continue to practise. We should leave it to them to decide when they consider ASL’s facility/training is no longer of value. A small number of teachers have bought their own computers or are now funding Internet connections at home so they will have less use for ASL’s facilities. A larger number of teachers do not have computer/Internet facilities either at home or in school so ASL’s facilities are important in terms of maintaining/improving skills and communications with Twins. Field Officer Jude Lasantha is competent in all the necessary programs and has the temperament to be a good trainer. Using Tangalle’s computers, he could provide support on a formal or informal basis. For the next twelve months or so I will also endeavour to provide support via Skype and email from the UK, though I do not see that as long-term arrangement and is dependent on many unknowns. Finally, my curriculum, exercises and links to resources are all available online and, given time, I expect to add to them :

Response from Bec:

Clive; this is brilliant. It is great that you have been able to present the stats and outcomes so clearly. Thank you!

You have made such a fantastic impact on our work in Sri Lanka. I have seen the skills and confidence of all our team grow as a result of your support. The introduction of google docs and picasa have been real time savers and makes supporting the team and monitoring their work from Galle so much easier. The teachers all have such positive things to say and thanks to you they can now access so many new possibilities.

We all really appreciate the time and dedication you have given to our organisation.
Looking forward to seeing you on Monday/Tuesday. I hear the teachers have arrnaged something special for you on Sunday. Enjoy!


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