OLE Nepal’s venture into open sourcing E-Paath(2-6)

OLE Nepal’s pursuit of digitizing educational material up to grade 10 recently reached a major milestone as we completed the development of content for grade-8. Although this is quite the achievement, computer technology is such an ever evolving field that the content developed for grade 2 to grade 6-using flash- have become technologically outdated. Consequently OLE Nepal in our endeavor of improving education through computer science decided to make our code base for grade 7-8, developed using HTML5, JS and CSS, open source and involve the students, in various fields of computer science, into our project to redevelop the content for grade 2-6.

The college we have currently approached and have started working with, to a certain extent, are:

  1. Thames College(10-15 students) ashish
  2. Apex College(10-15 students)
  3. Pulchowk Campus(10-15 students)
  4. Kathmandu University(10-12 students)

We are also looking into other possible colleges to collaborate with.

So far the response from the colleges and the number of students interested in being involved with our project has been very encouraging. Thames college, so far has been very proactive and we have already had multiple workshops with their students where we introduced them to the various programming approaches, good programming habits and libraries used in our project. Currently they are busy appearing their board exams however as soon as they will be done with their exams we will move into the next phase of our collaboration with them where they will develop the content of E-Paath for grade 2-6.
On a more personal note is was very interesting to see a good number of female students interested in our project. Female participation is something the field of Computer Science has not been able to attract for the longest time but the current bulk of female students pursuing a degree in Computer Science/Engineering seem intent on breaking the trend of male dominance in our field and bring some fresh perspective that can reinvigorate the existing crop of people in the technical sphere. It was very encouraging to meet the IT club of Apex college, where both the Chairperson and Secretary were female and their group had a good bulk of female participants.The other group that I was really impressed by were the students from Kathmandu University. These students took the initiative and approached us on their own and their group visited our office for the workshops all the way from Dhulikhel which had me in awe because personally, I was never as resourceful as this bunch during my college days. Their active participation and desire to better themselves by going beyond their prescribed syllabus is indicative of their pro-activeness.
We intend to have at least two workshops in each college so that the experience of the students in transitioning from a college environment to the sphere of IT professionals-open source contributors-is as smooth as we can possibly make.
Finally, we at OLE Nepal are very positive with the amount of progress we have made with integrating the colleges into our E-Paath 2-6 project and feel that the approach we are taking has the potential to be a mutually beneficial venture where the ultimate beneficiary will be the students seeking quality education in various parts of our country.

A month in the life of OLE Nepal Feb-Mar 2010

Mid-February through March has been a busy time at OLE Nepal. Lots going on in the buildup to the second round of deployment.

In early March, a team consisting of officials from the Department of Education (DoE), the World Food Programme (WFP), and OLE Nepal visited program schools in Dadeldhura. The purpose of the visit was to study the feasibility of expanding the program to two more schools in the district. The team consisted of the Deputy Director of DoE Mr. Baburam Poudel, who is also the government’s focal person for the OLPC project, WFP’s Country Programme Coordinator, Ms. Pramila Ghimire, and OLE Nepal’s Executive Director, Mr. Rabi Karmacharya. The team was joined on the fourth day by the Director General of the DoE, Mr. Haribol Khanal, who took time out of his busy schedule to spend three days in Dadeldhura to gather first hand knowledge about the program. He was accompanied by the Chief District Education Officer of Dadeldhura, Mr. Ram Hari Das Shrestha. In addition to visiting one program school and one prospective school, he met with officials from the DEO to discuss ongoing education activities in the district.

Content Development: New lessons and activities have been added to E-Paath (OLE Nepal’s original lessons and activities package can be accessed at: http://www.pustakalaya.org/external-content/static/epaath/MenuStage.html) and new content has also been added to E-Pustakalaya (OLE Nepal’s education focused library can be found at www.pustakalaya.org)

Deployment: As we near the second round of deployment in April, preparatory work is underway. OLE Nepal’s enthusiastic volunteers have been spending their days at the World Food Programme office, where the XOs for this years’ deployment are housed. They have been making an inventory of all the XOs there as well as testing and tagging them. Deployment in Mustang took place end February-early March. Deployment occurred earlier there than in other schools because of the different academic cycle that the cold mountainous regions follow.

Teacher Training: Refresher training for teachers was held in Mustang between Feb 24-27. They are well into their second academic year of ICT-integrated education!

Capacity Building: A workshop was organized for Curriculum Development Centre officials on Feb 26, to primarily update them and get feedback on the latest content developments and to discuss designing comprehensive courses, with detailed guides for teachers, on integrating ICT into their regular teaching process.

Network: The network team have successfully connected all programme schools in Kapilvastu to the Internet. They are among the only schools in the district to be online. The team has also been hard at work surveying new schools to set up servers for deployment season.

*For more updates on the going ons at OLE Nepal, please visit the News and Events section of its website: http://www.olenepal.org/news_events.html