Internet in Education Workshop
Several years ago I wouldn’t have imagined that learning about surfing and
researching on the internet could be so exciting! But that was before I was
hooked on the Internet! That was before I understood the
unfathomable encyclopedic qualities of the internet! And that was before
Being a member of EOL (that’s Elimu on Line, the philanthropic
program of Arusha Node Marie ANM.)) has enabled me to have the opportunity
to grow in my knowledge of what’s what on the internet through
networking and taking part in the various community activities that EOL has
organized in the nearly two years of its existence.
Our first big internet for education brainstorming session took
place at the United African Alliance Community Center UAACC in November,
last year. Many of the leaders of our cultural and educational institutions
gathered together to discuss ways and means to build and strengthen the new
Internet culture that has invaded nearly every aspect of life in Arusha
We gathered together
to figure out ways to transfigure the very fabric of our society…to
positively influence the thinking of thousands of students in Arusha (and of
course their teachers!) who might have the opportunity to take advantage of
the global Internet revolution that has redesigned our lives in so many
Since then we have been able to build both strong networking
sources and also bonds of friendships built through our common goal of doing
all we can in the most creative and exciting ways possible, to spread the
message about the advantages and opportunities of Internet Education.
We took it a step forward on
November 7th when twenty five of us met once again, this time at
the Arusha National Natural History Museum, for an “Internet for Education”
workshop organized by EOL members, Alex Righolt, Monique Janmaat, Gilbert
Maeda, Olympa Lema, Christopher Tarimo and yours truly, Charlotte Hill
There were representatives from many of those institutions
presently benefiting from the ANM philanthropic internet connections
including: the Arusha Regional Library; the Technical College Arusha; the
United African Alliance Community Center; Makumira University; Spiritan
Seminary; St Joseph Secondary School; CEDHA; The National Natural History
Museum; the School of St. Jude and Olchoki & Natema Primary Schools.
After a friendly round of introductions we got down to the
business at hand for the projected six-hour long workshop, that being that
we would together, seek ways to improve the use of the internet for
The group was split up
into four sub groups and they discussed and later presented their take on
the many problems and challenges facing us regarding internet and
education. The groups pointed out the far ranging technical, financial,
educational and cultural problems facing us that ranged from such concerns
as pop-ups, viruses, spy ware and power disturbances to the high cost of
outfitting computer labs, the disproportionate student/computer ratio in
just about all institutions, plagiarism and the presently outdated national
computer education curriculum.
I found that the expressions of concern about
the importance of the maintenance of traditional culture and that it not
suffer extinction as a result of the introduction of modernity,
mirrored my own.
There were discussions about the fear of machines that
many people have especially in the village settings. It was suggested that
internet sites that are relevant to the indigenous people in the community
be utilised to erase fears of machines and also to create curricula that are
suitable for each group.
It was considered a ‘must’ that teachers be trained that
are culturally sensitive to the community that they are serving.
I found the dialogues about the ‘digital gap’ or ‘digital
apartheid’ that is now enveloping so many communities in Africa, and in
Tanzania in particular, very fascinating.
As EOLer Olympa Lema, commented at the first EOL workshop
“We must make sure that our young people realize
that the Internet is far more than having the ability to send email messages
to friends. We must strive to build a new culture of Internet
learning in our schools and community at large.”
I hope that these few revelations about the goings on at
the EOL ‘Internet for Education Workshop’ have served to whet your own
appetite and curiosity to check out the EOL website and learn more about
what we can do as a community to make sure that the internet is utilized to
the benefit of us all.
Check out the EOL website at
http://eol.habari.co.tz and see some of the solutions that we all came
up with. Perhaps you will be inspired to add your own.