Zambian teachers test free digital learning tools


Secondary school teachers test an offline version of Wikipedia, © iicd

A group of about thirty teachers from the Copperbelt region in Zambia convened in a workshop last month to receive an introduction to several free eLearning computer programmes. These tools, which included an offline version of Wikipedia, a quiz maker and other helpful programmes, have the potential to enrich the learning experience of teachers and students, even in areas with no internet connection.

The one-day workshop was held at the Mpelembe School in Kitwe in north-central Zambia. Teachers were introduced to Okawix, a free tool that creates an offline version of Wikipedia, and responded excitedly to the opportunities this tool offers, especially to those who frequently face internet connectivity problems in their schools. Another advantage of Okawix lies in its search option and its quick and easy set up on a computer.

[callout title=Teacher Becomes Quizmaster]One of the programmes presented to teachers in Zambia is called Stu’s Quiz Boxes, which enables users to create exciting quizzes for the classroom setting. After the programme is installed and the quiz created, teachers use their computer to present a quiz that resembles ‘Jeopardy’. As a quizmaster, the teacher can assign points to the team or student that answers correctly. This fun programme is only one of the many examples of free software that can be used for educational purposes.[/callout]

The workshop was part of the ENEDCO Project, which is supported by the International Institute for Communication and Development. The project’s main objective is to help teachers to improve the content of their lessons using ICT so that their teaching becomes more effective. Its principle focus lies in improving the visual representation of the content of existing teaching materials.

The workshop was facilitated by Berno van Soest, a consultant from Human Performance Solutions, Atos Origin in the Netherlands.  Van Soest not only presented a couple of interesting free eLearning tools but also installed the offline Wikipedia in four schools in the Copperbelt region.

During the workshop, Van Soest also showed some other promising tools that can potentially be used to enrich teaching materials. These included programmes such as Stu’s Quiz Boxes, a programme for the easy creation of educational quizzes, as well as a new version of Scratch, which teaches students computer programming codes in a simple and playful way.

Teachers in Zambia’s Copperbelt region trying out different free eLearning tools, © iicd

“It was a very alert audience,” says Van Soest, who also compiled his experiences in Zambia on his blog “Berno naar Zambia” (in Dutch). “The teachers were very enthusiastic about the offline components. They told me about the connectivity problems they encounter on a regular basis and were therefore very happy to learn that these programmes require none or almost no internet access.”

Atos Origin is one of IICD’s official corporate partners. The Dutch branch of the company provides IT consultants whose role is to enhance IICD-supported projects in Africa. In the past, it also supported IICD in the Netherlands by developing an online learning tool to help local partners use the Online Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) System.


Stu’s quiz boxes:

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