Meet our Darchula Teaching Residents for 2018-19

Left to Right: Ashraya, Subash and Sanish

OLE Nepal’s Teaching in Technology Residency program has been receiving rave reviews from school teachers, local communities and children. Each year, OLE Nepal trains young graduates to support the newly launched laptop program schools in the far western districts of Nepal. Ever since it was introduced 5 years ago, many young graduates have travelled to remote communities in these districts where they live for months working with schools and communities so that they can use digital technology effectively in the teaching-learning process. This year, three motivated individuals were selected for the Residency program in Darchula district. They will spend 5 months in this remote district, working directly with the teachers and students in the schools.

Earlier this year, OLE Nepal introduced the laptop program in 15 basic schools in the remote far-western district of Darchula. Teachers and students in these farflung hilly areas have started using laptops loaded with E-Paath learning materials in their classrooms. The program was launched with intensive 7-day teacher training program held in local municipalities in September 2018. The second stage of the training program will be held in December when our training team will visit each school to observe classes and provide feedback and additional help to teachers.

We are pleased to introduce you to this year’s Residents.

Meet Subash! He had previously worked in a remote public school in Sindhupalchowk district as a Teach for Nepal fellow, and now in OLE Nepal he wants to use his huge passion of technology and travel to contribute for the positive impact in education in underserved areas. He believes OLE will be great place to enhance his learning and experiences in the sector of education and technology. Subash has completed Bachelor in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Institute of  Engineering. Here are Subash’s expectations from the Teaching with Technology Residency Program in Darchula:

“During this program, I am looking forward to know more about the situation of the education system in the primary level of rural schools. I has always believed that for the change in education system of our country, we should start from the primary level by strengthening the base of the students. Technology will be playing a key role for such kind of transformation. I want students from the program schools to be more curious and work in the development of their critical thinking and questioning capability. I will always be encouraging such things in students and teachers as well. This program will help me to know more about the far western side of our country and know their cultures and traditions.”

Next, we have Ashraya! Before joining OLE Nepal, Ashraya worked as a trainee in different NGOs. He joined OLE Nepal because of his interest in the program, where he can work with the local schools and communities, that will help him gain new experience in the field of education. Ashraya has completed Bachelor’s in Social Work and Psychology from Tribhuwan University. When asked about his expectations from the program, he said,

“Firstly I’m looking forward to gaining new experience.  I’m also looking forward to working in a different school and observe their education system. Since it is a field-based program I’m looking forward to working in the community. Likewise, I’m curious about the culture and tradition of Darchula where I could learn good things from their lifestyles as well. I’m looking forward to interacting with the teachers, students, local people during the field visit. Likewise, looking forward to working with the team where I can give my best while coordinating, communicating, rapport building, implementing, etc for our purpose of the organization. Lastly, I hope to make this program fruitful.”

Lastly, we have Sanish! He joined OLE Nepal because of his interest in promoting quality education. During his time at OLE Nepal, he expects to contribute to improving education in rural areas and lessen rural-urban education inequality. Sanish has completed Bachelors in Business Information System from Kathmandu University. Here’s what Sanish is looking forward to in Darchula:

“Besides working in a development problem of rural areas in Darchula by supporting for quality education through the use of technology, I also expect to learn from my first-hand field experience. I hope to reflect from the current situation of education, and take necessary actions by means of support, facilitation, and feedback to bring about about positive changes. Moreover, I aim to learn by interaction with teachers and students and solve problems by means of new ideas and inspirations to improve school education, not necessarily by the implementation of existing or previous ideas. Finally, I also look forward to remaining open to new cultural experiences, and at the same time explore new language, social traditions, communities and values from my five months teaching residency program.”

The Teaching Residency Program gives them an invaluable opportunity to transform education in remote and disadvantaged communities. In addition to receiving training from OLE Nepal, they will also gain an immersive field-based experience. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the application of technology to enhance primary education while gaining invaluable insights to the challenges faced by schools in remote areas.

Watch this space for more updates from Ashraya, Sanish and Subash!

Teacher’s training: A wonderful experience!

– Deepa Thapa, Senior Officer: Curriculum and Training, OLE Nepal.

Mr. Joshi at the refresher training in Doti.

Dharma Raj Joshi is a tall man with amazing personality. He is kind-hearted and quite expressive. He loves sharing his ideas along with some personal stuffs without any hesitation,  even with a new group of people. He has a great esteem towards what he is doing for his livelihood. He can easily open up with concerned persons, and speaks very naturally, His tone of Doteli language adds sweet flavor to his expressions. In the beginning of his career, Mr. Joshi worked in India, but her later returned back to Doti and started working in the community school near by his home. He is now teaching primary school students in Shree Kaladhunga Basic school in Doti, which is one of the 15 schools in Doti where the laptop program was launched in 2017.

During initial training in August 2017, we got a chance to discover his skills. He is a really interesting person whom we had the pleasure of getting to know. Before basic training, he was not familiar with computers. In the beginning, he was worried just because he didn’t know how to use a computer. He wondered how he would be able to get through the training without having basic computer skills. Despite having teaching experience of several years, he had very low confidence on technical aspect. However, his positive learning attitude was his driving force and he finally he learned to use XO laptops successfully while navigating digital learning materials developed by OLE Nepal.

Practice class session at refresher training conducted by Mr. Joshi.

Mr. Joshi helping teachers navigate the day’s lesson.

Before getting acquainted with the machine, he was afraid of one more assumption in his mind. Mr. Joshi thought that if he clicked on any wrong buttons in the keyboard, then the laptop would immediately stop working, but thankfully his expressive nature  helped him get rid of doubts and confusions. He shared and asked questions about anything he was unsure of. Although he had confused eyes and shaky hands in first two days of initial training, he has finally made huge progress there after. At in-school training in December 2017, OLE’s team got a chance to observe his ICT integrated class. It was just awesome.

During refresher training in June 2018, Mr. Joshi gave us another opportunity to observe ICT integrated teaching practice. He proved himself to be a skilled and child-friendly teacher when he taught a story “जुनकिरीको जन्मदिन” (Firefly’s birthday) from OLE Nepal’s E-Pustakalaya in front of the trainees. Despite of presence of principal, highly experienced and skilled teachers, resource persons and visitors, he handled his practice class very well. He was able to make his learners follow him properly. He made his class interactive by engaging learners in the participatory activities. Mr. Joshi sometimes threw questions about the events of the chapter. He always asked his learners to speak up or express their thoughts/views regarding the lesson so as to improve learning ability.

Practice class session at refresher training conducted by Mr. Joshi

Teachers practice setting up school network

It seemed like Mr. Joshi was very proficient with laptops and digital materials. No disturbances in the momentum flow was observed during his ICT integrated class. Actually his art of teaching was just amazing. Regards that he showed towards learners was admirable and the clarity in his voice made things more interesting. He read text as if he was reciting poem which was another good part of his teaching. All the trainee teachers supported him well. After seeing them comfortable with ICT, it left us – the trainers, very satisfied. The progress they have made so far has energized OLE Nepal to move forward with more excitation. We’re very much thankful to the entire teachers who are turning our dreams of shaping future come true.

Practice class session at refresher training conducted by Mr. Joshi

The Mountain Village That Stole Our Hearts

AUTHOR: Yap Mun Ching

, 2017

For my last work trip of 2017, I had the rather unusual task of leading a group of 9 Allstars (AirAsia staff) from 5 countries and a 5-member film crew up the Gorkha mountains of Nepal to a village called Olang. The trip was part of a two-and-a-half-year long ‘To Nepal with Love’ campaign that AirAsia Foundation has been running with an excellent organisation called Open Learning Exchange Nepal (OLE Nepal) since the 2015 earthquakes. We had raised over RM800,000 (just above USD200,000) which we pledged to OLE Nepal to rebuild 4 schools that served close to 300 students.

After many hurdles, my counterpart in OLE Nepal, Rabi Karmacharya, called in November to say that the schools were finally ready (hooray!). We began to set in motion our plan to bring an Allstars team to organise a first Sports Day for the children to celebrate their new schools.

Travelling up to Olang is not for the faint-hearted. I would describe the journey up to the village as the toughest ride I had ever made. It started the moment we arrived at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. We had to wrestle our way through the crowds to get our few hundred kilos worth of baggage. Other than our own gear, we were also bringing 300 schoolbags for the children and 4 sets of wonderful children’s books donated by BookXcess for new libraries.

We spent our first night in a charming lodge in the town of Kurintar, before setting off the next morning in a small convoy. Over the next 6 hours, we would crawl our way up potholed paths, mountain streams and dust tracks, not much faster than 5km per hour. Sleep was not an option. With the extreme bumping and jolting, anyone dozing off risked getting a big bump on the head!

Olang is the last village on the trail up the mountains. It is harsh, not only in terrain but also in climate. Villagers grow grain on terraces carved out of the rocky slopes. During the daytime, the sun would scorch but once it set, temperatures would dip to single digits. Thankfully, we didn’t have to camp – we slept on the floor of the new classrooms.

All wrapped up like burritos.
All wrapped up like burritos.

The cost to rebuild is high because materials have to be brought up the same rough roads. Thus, the drive into the schoolyard filled us with joy and a great sense of achievement.

On our second morning, we awoke to the sound of excitement. Some children were already gathered in the schoolyard, curious about their visitors from lands far away. The Allstars soon got to work after washing up in icy mountain waters. A team began pumping balloons while another drew chalk lines on the ground. After a few formalities (speeches and plaques handover), the AirAsia Sports Day was underway!

At the Allstars balloon stand.
At the Allstars balloon stand.

We started with a tug-of-war, followed by a gunny sack race, passing of rubberbands with straws, gorilla walk (children had to clamp a ball each under their armpits and between their knees while racing across to their teammates). Not only did the little ones had fun, parents and teachers were also cackling away at the children’s antics. As for the Allstars, we were happily reliving our childhoods.

Do you remember this from your school Sports Days?
Do you remember this from your school Sports Days?

The AirAsia Sports Day was our way of reintroducing play into education. The children here have endured much hardship and trauma during the disasters. With OLE Nepal, we wanted to provide them not only with hardware but also software.

Each school funded by our campaign joins OLE Nepal’s One-Laptop-per-Child programme and receives 25 cute green children’s laptops, a server with lots of open source materials, teachers’ training, books for a new library and equipment for sports. School should not just be a place to learn but also to have fun. While doing this, we want to help students make a digital leap and connect with people and ideas outside their remote village.

This is the students’ first experience with a computer.

Two days later, we left Olang exhausted but exhilarated. We survived the even rougher ride back to Kathmandu, and thence back to our respective countries. What we bring with us are memories and hope that in our little way, we have been able to touch the children’s and the villagers’ lives, just as they have touched ours.

Seeing the schools, we felt a great sense of achievement.
Seeing the schools, we felt a great sense of achievement.

There remains a long way to go to rebuild Nepal and you can help further OLE Nepal’s reach by donating at olenepal.org.

Last but not least, we thank all guests, Allstars and friends who made it possible for us to make this gift to the beautiful children of Nepal.

Glad they will no longer return to these old classrooms.
Glad they will no longer return to these old classrooms.

Happy Holidays from all of us at AirAsia.

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About the author: Mun Ching is Executive Director of AirAsia Foundation, whose mission is to support social enterprises in ASEAN. The foundation gives grants to social enterprises, mentors them and mobilises AirAsia resources to grow their business.

Find her on Twitter @yapmunching.

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This blog-post has been extracted from AirAsia’s blog site. Find original post here.

Developing the New E-Pustakalaya

## Introduction ##

Since OLE Nepal’s inception in 2007 we have strived to provide open and free access to quality education and innovative learning environments to children all over Nepal.  One of our core missions is to reduce the disparity found within the accessibility of learning tools brought about by geographic location, school type, and population group.  E-Pustakalaya, our free and open digital library, closed the gap by providing a collection of thousands of books, educational resources, course content, and reference materials directly to students and educators.  Not only did this library aid in providing quality educational content, it has aided in the development of reading habits early on and has sparked an inquisitive nature within students by providing the means to conduct independent research.  

## Current Technology and Architecture ##

The initial iteration of E-pustakalaya utilizes FEDORA (an acronym for Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture), a digital object repository architecture designed to achieve scalability, stability, flexibility and extensibility, while at the same time providing for interoperability between systems. FEDORA is positioned within a larger open-architecture framework in which the total functionality of a digital library is partitioned into a set of services with well-defined interfaces described in the image below.

Component Stack

Component Stack

Integration Architecture

Integration Architecture

 

Fedora Commons is developed on the top of a Java application and is popularly deployed through Tomcat. The front-end interface and querying of items in Fedora Commons is handled by FEZ and PHP.  Currently we are using Fedora Commons 2.2 deployed in Tomcat 4.1.12 and Java 6. We have tinkered CentOS 6.4 to orchestrate the deployment.

## The Switch ##

It has been over eight years since E-Pustakalaya’s initial launch and we are currently in development of a new E-Pustakalaya powered by DSpace: an open source repository software originally written by MIT and HP Labs and is currently developed by DuraSpace.  The main reasons for our switch are as follows:

  1. The Lack of Support for FEZ and front-end responsiveness

The FEZ interface is currently being loosely maintained at Github and lacks the proper support and documentation we require for the expansion of features like document streaming or a responsive interface.  For instance, a more responsive, dynamic web interface would improve the user’s experience by providing a dynamic view through various multimedia features rather than a static ones.  These features are implemented through languages like CSS and Javascript to facilitate a vibrant interface and make media queries possible which would have been very difficult to implement within the FEZ interface.

  1.   We wanted a more optimized database

Within the old E-Pustakalaya we utilized PHP to directly query for the desired items and their metadata within a relational database.  These queries eventually proved inefficient as several parts had to be queried from a relational database of millions of items that did not have a back-end search engine that provided an inverted index like Solr.

  1.  DSpace showed up with all the solutions

We chose DSpace because it met the standards of scalability, flexibility, and stability we set for the previous iteration of E-Pustakalaya, while also providing a greater environment for the expansion of features.  It provided a robust front-end interface that supported the implementation of the responsiveness that we sought for and had a sophisticated querying system that could handle our immense library.  DSpace also allowed for the same wide range of file formats to cover educational content  from books, videos, and recordings.  

## The Structure ##

Now within the library are millions of items of various file formats.   DSpace records the metadata for these items and then the file formats are converted into bitstreams.  The meta data and bitstreams are tied to the item which then gets grouped into a designated collection. These collections are then organized into general communities.  Take for instance a community was labeled “Literature,”  within this community some example collections could be the genres within literature, for instance: fiction, nonfiction, or children’s books. Within these collections the books would be the items and the metadata would hold various recording information like the authors,  release dates, and other descriptive information.

DSpace

Source: DSpace 6.X Documentation

To query these items from the collections or communities, DSpace utilizes Solr Discovery to facilitate faceting and search result filtering. Solr provides the inverted index to provide speedy access to content metadata and data while simultaneously recording usage statistics. To carry out these tasks DSpace has a multicore setup of Solr which includes a “search core” that deals with the data about the communities, collections, and items, and a “statistics core” that deals with view counts, searches, and user data. The search core effectively finds the item with its indexing and then queries for the relevant bitstreams tied to the item within a Postgresql database.  Solr also allows us to create custom metadata which helps its effectiveness in indexing.  The interaction between Solr querying and the traditional Postgresql database facilitates the fast querying and filtering of items while only querying for relevant bitstreams from a relational database.

The front-end web interface of the new E-Pustakalaya is generated through XMLUI and is based on Apache Cocoon, which primarily utilizes Java, XML, and XSLT.  We have heavily customized the original Mirage2 theme to match the end product designs that were decided upon by OLE designers.  Through Apache Cocoon each page is created through a pipeline where every aspect is “added” to the page separately and work independently from each other.  We have customized the built-in aspects to provide the desired document streaming for books, audio files, and video files. This is accomplished by incorporating open source add-ons like pdf.js and video.js which are HTML5 based interfaces that we provide within the server so that the end-user can access the educational content directly, without the need to install plugins within their browser.  We have also added a commenting feature using Disqus so users have the ability to comment on each item, which can facilitate discussions between students and educators.

Current E-Pustakalaya Home Page

Current E-Pustakalaya Home Page

 

Multiple Document Streaming

Multiple Document Streaming

 

Commenting Features

Commenting Features

Overall DSpace provides an extremely robust and flexible database that can handle virtually any file format that we would ever need.  Its use of Solr Discovery makes queries fast, reliable, and highly customizable.  An upgrade from the previous database which utilized PHP to run queries from a SQL database.  Even on the front-end the aspect style formatting of features allows us to freely customize specific aspects without the worry of affecting another feature.

## The Challenges ##

Our development team, consisting of a systems engineer, a software developer, and a development intern, is relatively small given the scale of the project.  DSpace out of the box did not natively support many of the features already adopted within our own repository.  For instance, the aforementioned document streaming modules are built up of third party add-ons; pdf.js provides the module for viewing pdf files and video.js provides the modules for streaming any file format compatible with HTML5.  Video.js actually grants us with a high level of flexibility on which file formats we can use for videos and recordings, but for now we have chosen to stick with mp4 and mp3, for video and audio respectively, as they are widely used and are compatible with almost all browsers.  

DSpace’s ability to use Solr Discovery is heavily reliant on the metadata tied to the items as these are how items and their bitstreams are easily indexed and queried.  The process of transferring items from the previous data base might have to be done manually as the formats of the databases do not currently provide an obvious solution for their automatic transfer.  We have discussed plans on tiered transitions where we would transfer over parts of the database at a time rather than a full scale transition.  We will of course also be looking into how we can automate some of the processes for the eventual transition.

There is also the challenge of localization and maintenance.  Since OLE is planning on distributing this library format to remote villages in Nepal; access to internet may not be possible and some features of the repository may require an internet connection to work such as the commenting features in Disqus.  There is also the somewhat steep learning curve of customizing the XMLUI interface as it is based on XML, XSLT, CSS, and Java which would require a working understanding of those languages for any form of customization.  We have talked about writing a comprehensive guide on the customization of popular features  the repository and to also provide references to the original DSpace documentation if further customization is desired.

## Looking Ahead ##

As of writing this blog the team is still currently in development of the new E-Pustakalaya and is making steady progress towards the end goal of providing a necessary platform to bridge the gap on the accessibility of quality educational content.  The current local instance of the E-Pustakalaya has the core database established that allows for multiple file streaming on a vibrant, newly designed web interface.  The whole team is very excited about continuing in the development of the new E-Pustakalaya and are enthusiastic about what the end product can help achieve.

Discovering E-Paath in Canada

How OLE Nepal inspired talks about starting OLE in Canada 

April 17-21, 2017 | Lalitpur

OLE Nepal’s team of trainers conducted a 5-day in-house teacher training on ICT-integrated teaching-learning practice for teachers from Dhading, from April 17-21, 2017. The training was organized by Zen’s Outdoor Leadership Camp for Youth (ZOLCY), a Canadian non-profit organization. Following is an account of ZOLCY’s experience while working with OLE Nepal to bring quality educational resources to the public school students in Dhading.

June 12, 2017 | ZOLCY

“On a cold Canadian winters night in 2016, Lakehead University Outdoor Rec. student, Jackie Chan, was surfing the internet looking for any online educational resources available for the children of Nepal. Jackie, co-founder of Zen’s Outdoor Leadership Camp for Youth (ZOLCY), a Canadian non profit organization with a vision to develop a generation of globally conscious leaders, was planning a pilot project in the Ruby Valley area of Nepal. Jackie couldn’t believe his eyes when he stumbled across OLE Nepal’s website and was able to instantly access lessons in Nepali and English. And wait, this was free? It seemed too good to be true but after a few simple steps Jackie successfully installed OLE Nepal’s software on two donated laptops destined for the Himalayas.

After the success of ZOLCY’s first volunteer program in Nepal in 2016, Jackie and ZOLCY co-founder, Gary Hayes, knew they needed to connect with OLE. The idea of dropping off two laptops for two villages was nice but the pair knew they needed to increase the quantity of computers in order to give students access to the technology. However, the pair also realized that they needed to gain a better understanding of how to properly introduce educational technology in rural areas. Gary, an MA in Global Leadership student at Royal Roads University, recognized this as a research opportunity and OLE Nepal welcomed the idea of sharing their process, values, and vision. Specifically, Gary’s research aims to explore the capacity building process amongst stakeholders as they work to establish a framework to increase the likelihood of project sustainability. In March of 2017, Gary arrived in Nepal to begin the first phase of his proposed 3 stage study.

With the help of OLE and a local trekking company (Discovery World Trekking), 9 teachers from two villages arrived in Kathmandu to begin training. Jackie, who is currently working on his Med (Masters of education) was interested in learning more about OLE Nepal’s approach and to share his play and laughter techniques as a form of classroom management. Over the course of five days, the teachers, OLE Nepal, and ZOLCY, shared a very valuable learning experience and made sure to take some time to have a few laughs!

With training complete, ZOLCY’s international volunteers arrived with additional laptops! Jackie and Gary led the ZOLCY volunteers on the two-day trek to reach the remote villages in order to set up the computer labs. Upon completion of set up, the ZOLCY team returned to Kathmandu and met with OLE Nepal and Discovery World Trekking to prepare for the future.

‘Impressed with OLE Nepal’s software, the training process, and the design and content of OLE’s network, they’ve begun exploring the idea of utilizing OLE’s approach in Canada with a focus on indigenous populations.’

Jackie and Gary have returned to Canada to continue graduate school and to manage their non profit, but the pair have started to ask how they can apply OLE Nepal’s model in their own country. Impressed with OLE Nepal’s software, the training process, and the design and content of OLE’s network, they’ve begun exploring the idea of utilizing OLE’s approach in Canada with a focus on indigenous populations. They are excited about the idea and recognize the potential to make a difference. In the meantime, ZOLCY will continue to work with OLE and Discovery World Trekking to organize a follow up evaluation and additional training for the two villages they’ve been working with. The learning, laughter, and adventures continue!”

An interview with our teaching resident — Shikha Dhakal

Supporting Program Schools in Baitadi

Baitadi cover

About the program

Three months ago, OLE Nepal launched it’s first ever Teaching with Technology Residency Program to support 15 primary schools that have started using digital learning materials in their classrooms. This year-long program engages 2 qualified and motivated young graduates to assist teachers to maximize the benefits from the wide range of digital resources made available at the schools. The Residents spent an entire month training at OLE Nepal office before heading to Baitadi in January 2017 to facilitate students and teachers in using technology effectively in the teaching-learning process.

One of the Teaching Residents, Shikha Dhakal, was a primary school teacher before joining this program. We sat with her to learn more about her experience and observations after completing the first round of support to all 15 schools.

Introducing Shikha:

Shikha joined OLE Nepal because sheshikha believes that technology is a powerful agent of change in the teaching-learning process. She brings 2 years of teaching experience to the Residency program; she was primary grade teacher in social studies at Santwona Memorial School before joining OLE Nepal. She has also volunteered on leadership seminars and workshops by Global Peace Youth Corps, and the National Federation of Youth NGO Nepal. Shikha has completed B.A. in Social Work from Santwona Memorial College.

Interview:

What were the major differences in teaching methods that you observed in Baitadi, compared to your time as a teacher in Kathmandu?

Shikha : My perspective towards education system in Nepal has totally changed after my visit as a Teaching Resident in Baitadi. Although comparing Baitadi with Kathmandu may not be fair, I did observe huge differences in teaching methods, perspective, learning environment etc, in Baitadi.                                                                     

I found teachers in Baitadi were qualified, active and dedicated to their duties. They gave high priority to their work despite their the hectic schedule. Although teachers fulfill their responsibilities and stay positive towards their duties, time management is one of the biggest issues in such rural areas where the schools are located in isolated areas far from their homes.

In terms of methodologies, they rely a lot on textbooks due to the lack of other teaching and learning resources. The teachers do try to use some group activities in classrooms; however, many schools struggle with insufficient number of teachers, which severely affect their workload.

With the existing interventions and support in different areas, in due time, teachers in Baitadi too can become as competent as the teachers in Kathmandu, and this will certainly help to bring the improvement of education status of the district.

How are the Teachers and schools using the digital learning resources in Baitadi?

Shikha : I believe every child should have access to quality resources and opportunities for learning, but the reality is that many children do not have easy access to quality learning resources.

Shikha guiding the students at Janachetna Primary School

Shikha guiding the students at Janachetna Primary School

I got an opportunity to assist teachers and students on using technology to provide quality educational materials in Baitadi, which in itself was quite an amazing experience. For the first time I realized the value of things that we often take for granted. It was great seeing teachers’ and students’ involvement, curiosity, and interest in learning through technology; it was something they had never dreamt of. The active participation of teachers and desire to learn something new by going beyond the hectic schedule was quite impressive. They performed as a trained facilitator to use the digital resources (laptops, E-Paath, E-Pustakalaya ) creatively while teaching.

It seems as they had long awaited for a miracle like this to happen. They changed their teaching methods to engage students in the classrooms. They now prepare lesson plans, children follow job charts regularly and so on. The activities they do in digital learning class are helping them to obtain grade and subject goals of education.

During your time in Baitadi, were there any interesting cases of teachers using E-Paath to explain concepts that students were struggling with?

Shikha : I remember the day Anjana and I were observing a class at Nagarchan Primary School in Mahakali. It was science class in grade 4 and the teacher was starting a lesson on one way and two way communication. Following her lesson plan, she the teacher asked questions to student to assess their knowledge on the topic. She asked the students to give two examples of one way communication, and a girl named Prapti quickly answered, radio and river. Prapti explained that the since the river always flows in one direction and does not return, it is one way communication. The teacher simply smiled and opened her E-Paath exercise and explained the whole lesson clearly.

Although it has only been 3 months into the Residency Program, do you think that the this immersive experience has been beneficial to you (personally and professionally)?

Shikha : Every twist and turn in life makes us brighter and better for the coming days. In these 3 months of being a part of OLE Nepal’s Teaching Residency program, I have experienced a lot of new things, faced and overcome several difficulties, hard situations, and challenges all of which have helped to strengthen my professional and personal resolve. The time that I spent in Baitadi helped me to realize that in every inch of sadness lies a foot of happiness, and even the simplest of times brings the grandest of pleasures.

For the first time ever I was far from my family. Though it was difficult to take a decision before, I have now learned that these chances often guide us to unexpected discoveries.

Personally and professionally I am glad to be a part of OLE Nepal. Those 60 days in Baitadi with new people, following their culture and tradition, were an immersive experience for me. I am definitely going to enjoy my next two visits back to Baitadi and meeting the people again, and I especially look forward to spending more time with the children there.

How did you feel about teaching with technology for the first time?

Shikha teaching students at

Shikha taking an E-Paath class at Janachetna Primary School

Shikha : Technology is one of the foremost agents to bring change in our teaching-learning process, while reducing the disparity in access to quality education. Similarly teachers are the key to bring change by framing young minds into critical thinkers and learners.

Having past experience as a teacher I found the technology-enhanced approach very interesting and effective for children than our traditional pedagogical methodologies.

How do you think the laptop program will be more effective in rural areas like Baitadi?

Shikha : In the context of Baitadi, there are children who aren’t able to get two good meals a day, and parents who feel ashamed for not being able to provide even the basic necessities for their children. In those communities, OLE Nepal’s laptop program provides them with the same opportunities as children in Kathmandu. One can’t imagine how glad they were feeling and their happiness while using laptops to learn. There were several challenges on economic, social, as well as technological aspects, including the roles of teachers and communities, but their desire to learn new things, their courage to face difficulties, and solving them strongly and intelligently was admirable.

5

Students and teachers of Netrajyoti Primary School, with Shikha

The laptop program has helped teachers as well as children to gain extra knowledge in various local and global contexts. It has increased the learning habit in children, encouraged them to improve their quality in learning methods from the traditional rote-learning approach. And another interesting benefit of this program is, it has helped to increase the student’s attendance in schools. We have found that those students who used to come sporadically have now started to attend school regularly.

MORE PHOTOS

 

My Experience Using Digital Technology in Primary School

ambadatta-joshi

Re-post of an article by Ambadatta Joshi, a teacher from one of our project schools in Bajhang.

January 25, 2016

Along with the new rising sun, there are new developments in science and technology. More than that in the sector of education, digital technology is being the focus for all the schools. All the students and guardians are attracted toward the school where there is the use of digital technology.

While telling my experience of learning basic letters of English and Nepali, I learned to read and write on ‘Dhulauto’ (a small wooden board with spread dust on it used to write with a little stick, erase and rewrite). My teacher used to catch my hand and get me to write the basic letters on the board. Gradually, I used ‘Kamero’ (made of white mud and water) and then ‘Khari’ (soft white stone) to write on pati (a wooden board). Gradually, I came to use ink that was developed by fermenting locally available particular tree leaves in boiling water and filtering with a piece of cotton cloth. The pen was made of Nigalo (a particular type of bamboo found in the hills and mountains). For writing, I used to use Nepali paper locally made because my father used to develop it at home out of a kind of bush plant to write horoscope of people. Nowadays, these pens and paper are not utilised in the schools.

Those days, students were quite afraid of English teacher with no reason. They used to be rather happy when the English teacher was absent. In English lessons, we used to write the pronunciation of all the words under the line in Nepali so that we could ready easily and correctly. This was the situation and feeling toward English language and English teacher when I was a student in a primary school.

Nowadays, where there is the use of digital technology in English period, it is entirely different than those days. In my own school, OLE Nepal has provided 42 XO-laptops (E-pati) for the students that we use to teach English as well as other subjects. The lessons and activities those are available in E-pati are designed to obtain class-wise and subject-wise goals of education. There are audio-visual materials that help teachers and students in teaching and learning activities.

We have e-library (local server) that contains over six thousand digital books in Nepali and English. Those reference books help the children as well as teachers gain extra knowledge about various local and global activities. Even the high school and campus near the school take advantage of this school e-library. This has developed good habits of reading in the children.

Nowadays, the teachers feel abnormal without digital technology in their teaching and learning in our school. I can say that the schools which have got this technology are lucky. In my case, this has brought a huge difference in teaching English. The technology has cultivated energy in my profession. This has provided more opportunities for the children to practice their lessons and given relief for me in the classroom. When the children have some problems, I facilitate them in their activities. Since we got this technology, this has decreased the burden of gathering several teaching materials and saved teachers’ time as it contains several audio-visual materials for teaching and learning. The animated pictures in e-paath (an application that includes course books) have decreased my unnecessary lecture in the classroom. Various videos about wild animals, the universe, internal body parts, baby growth, development of plan out of the seed, etc. have made classroom teaching and learning very effective. Use of the technology has developed a mind of both the children and the teachers. This has become very supportive in engaging the students in the absence of a teacher in the school.

The technology in the school has gradually made the guardians feel ownership of the school’s property. Their positive response toward the change in teaching and learning with the new technology has made the teachers more responsible. They feel pride that their children are learning with new technology which they had never seen before three years. The digital technology has encouraged them to further develop the school.

The use of new technology has increased the number of students and decreased the drop-outs from the school. The children learn singing, dancing, playing games and other activities by watching videos on the devices. They freely select various digital books like poetry, stories, etc. for reading or drawing pictures. The most important aspect the technology has developed in the children is learning interest.

I wish all other schools will get this technology to bring change in their teaching and learning activities. Otherwise, this will increase digital divide between the schools and children. In the end, the teachers should be well-trained to use such digital technology in their instructional activities to improve teaching and learning and to achieve educational goals.

The author: Ambadatta Joshi teaches at Shree Kalika Primary School, Sunkuda, Bajhang

The Blog-post has been retrieved from ELT Magazine : Nepal’s First Digital English Language Teachers’ Magazine.