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Harnessing the internet for improved education

Siena Anstis's picture

Well, this will probably be my last update from Battery Operated Systems in Community Outreach (BOSCO) Uganda in northern Uganda. Over the next week, I will be shifting to Syria for new learning experiences in a region I have never visited. As a closing thought on my work with BOSCO, I wanted to briefly reflect on the organization's future.

BOSCO realizes that Internet provision is only a temporary aspect of their core work at the moment. In the long run, the SEACOMs should be providing Uganda – even rural areas! - with the necessary bandwidth for people to begin closing the digital divide.

On the other hand, BOSCO also understands that without appropriate Internet training, access to Internet will only reach its full potential slowly. Internet only goes so far unless one knows how it can be most effectively used to meet local needs.

Thus, in an effort to usher in successful Internet access, BOSCO has been teaching ICT through Web 2.0 to show users how they can begin contributing and interacting on the Internet immediately. This collaborative aspect of the Internet is one of its greatest gifts. The exchange of ideas is key for the enrichment of any society; the Internet allows this to happen at a mostly affordable price.

At the same time, BOSCO is looking to harness the Internet for education. The organization provides Internet points in 8 schools (2 primary and 6 secondary). There are hundreds of students starving for up to date educational materials - libraries are often either non existent or in disarray and occupied by dusty, outdated books. Responding to this challenge, BOSCO has started an e-library that provides e-textbooks and e-books to needy children and teachers through the high-speed internal BOSCO network (basically a fast, private website linking all BOSCO sites). BOSCO has also uploaded educational films that can be viewed by students without painful streaming times.

On top of these developments, BOSCO is looking for more information to share, whether this be new curricula, innovative class exercises in the sciences or languages, or locally-developed videos introducing new cultural practices from the Philippines. BOSCO wants to further use its network to share these materials and enrich the current teaching practices and opportunities within Ugandan schools.

To better inform BOSCO's work through the suggestions of individuals and organization with experience in online education and Internet education, I would welcome thoughts on how BOSCO can harness its high-speed internal network and public Wikispace to further enrich the lives of Internet users and students in Northern Ugandan. Comments can be posted below or sent directly to [email protected].