Currently OLENepal has a team of 30 people, 15 of those work on creating local content. Rabi showed us a demo of the activities they created for learning English and math. There is enough content to teach several grades all school year! Nepali text-book curriculum was converted into computer- based and improved. The main advantages of a computer based curriculum are that the student gets instant feedback and has infinite number of practice choices, not to mention a game-like interactive way of learning. The team of creators have to have an educators’ background because as developers they do not know what educators know. Genius techies without any educational experience will not be able to create good programs for students. The goal is to educate all students, not just brilliant ones, but those who are at average and below average.
They provided 4 day training to teachers in their first year, now it is 8 days with on-going feedback and support. Teachers are taught different way of teaching: monitoring and helping, not dry lecturing. At the end of the training, teachers convert problems into solutions and they are not afraid of saying “I don’t know but I will get back to you”. It is important to make this process easy for teachers. One of the biggest myths is that you show the teachers what an XO can do and they will create content or customize it. Unfortunately, it is not true. Teachers will not customize it, even if it requires one hour per week, or improve or create. Why? They do not have time for that. Some of them teach 7-8 periods a day. That is why OLE Nepal started with basics – just transferred from book-based to computer based curriculum. And then created lesson plans and sample activities.
There should be infrastructure in place. “OLE Nepal has connected all the schools that are part of the pilot program to one another. The schools are also connected to the OLE Nepal central server in Kathmandu, creating an intranet connection between OLE Nepal and its partner schools.Wherever possible, schools have also been connected to the Internet. However, this has depended largely on the pre-availability required infrastructure in the area.
In addition to connecting schools to each other and to OLE Nepal, internal networks have also been set up within the schools. Each school is equipped with a school server that contains E-Pustakalaya and the latest E-Paath updates.
The school server also works as the gateway between the school and the outside network. Each school server is connected to access points in each classroom with network cable. The students can use their laptops to access the server wirelessly through these access points in their respective classrooms.”
OLE Nepal wants the Ministry of Education to have the capacity to take over, that is why they have to involve government in the process on many different levels. At one level it means having right people on the board of directors. Another level – involving policy makers into curriculum creation. Training teachers from the Ministry of Education and paying them for training is another example. Last year OLE Nepal trained 15 teachers and then sent them to train others to total of 125. They were teaching ICT basic education – info and communication technology. Not just the teachers, but governments, ministries do not want to lose jobs. Instead of threatening them with new technology that might replace them, it is better to involve them into the process and show how it could work well for all participants.