Monday, January 28, 2008

Computer Instruction, high-speed access and Cambodia

I'm writing this entry as a response to Beth Kanter's challenge.

What advice would you offer to Mam Sari about incorporating computer instruction on a REALLY slow connection and with one computer connected to the Internet?

If he has time, he can prepare for the class by printing out a Google results page and then annotating with his own comments. For example, he might have (in colored ink) labels for each part of each results item. Going over these as handouts to the class will give them something to study prior to their own practice.

Perform some searches before class and use the forward and back browser buttons to shorten the wait time between pages.

Use the "wait" time effectively. This is where pre-written or printed materials are helpful. Go to Google Help (available through the About Google page) and use some of the pages, printed, as material to expand the students' understanding of what Google offers.

Are there any web resources or books that you think I should send over to him to read?

We in the developed world, have access to high-quality printers, plotters, etc. Having some color charts and handouts would be helpful. I don't know what your budget is, and if the students can read English well, but providing how-to books for the students would be great.

Dream a little dream with me, if we had a fast Internet connection, what are the possibilities?

What do the students need to be successful? Do they need money to go to school? Having access to a high-speed connection gives them the ability to participate in the person-to-person loans that are becoming more common on the Internet (e.g., fynanz). Actually, I'm not sure this requires a fast connection but it would certainly allow students to do a lot more exploration, to see how they can get additional help, even virtual tutoring.

Just today, a friend suggested that it would be cool to have a microfinance-like site similar to Kiva, which instead of providing money for a business, provides money in the form of loans for education. I think it's a great idea, although to get it to work effectively in countries like Cambodia will require some facilitative or management presence in the country. Making sure that the students have the support of their family, who may see education as a drain on their economic needs, to align students with programs and make sure the funds get to the school, etc. Sorry, I may be getting off topic a bit but the more that the everyday person in Cambodia can access the web as an extension of the market, the more likely such ventures will happen.

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