October 28, 2010

[ #msief ]: Use stumbling blocks as stepping stones: Moliehi Sekese, Lesotho

Moliehi Sekese wakes up in the morning, packs up her laptop, fully charged, and heads of to teach her students at Mamoeketsi Government Primary School, Lesotho. From the minute class begins that morning, students crowd around her PC, exploring maths, science and other concepts through the glowing rectangle for as long as the charge lasts and then, when it's done, it's done.

Battery life is a perennial laptops-in-schools issue - give the students enough power to get through the day because charging up is so problematic. Cables everywhere, children having to work at the edges of the classroom where the sockets are…

But until last month, Moliehi's battery life issue was critical - she had no electricity at her school at all. Battery life isn't, for her, a mere inconvenience. It is the difference between further entrenching "the way it's always been done" and engaging children in the skills and global view that they can aspire to, given the tools to discover it.

Students have taken their parents' mobile phones to track their research into endangered plant life in their community, sending their teacher reports and updates up to midnight. They have sold sweets and oranges to raise money. What for? A school trip to the internet cafe 15 miles away. They used Moliehe's laptop - fully charged - and a borrowed scanner to grab jpgs of the hand drawn illustrations of the plants they were studying, making campaign flyers in Microsoft Publisher. The locals paid attention, where they hadn't before. Why? They had never seen flyers with ink so bright.

Moliehe is passionate about learning, and technology has engaged her students and the rest of the community in the projects students have undertaken. But it's her attitude to what she and her students don't have that presents a lesson many Western educators, complaining about technology provision or technology policy being a barrier to getting things done:

"It was a joyful experience to experience the unexpected. When the mind is prepared, the moment we are given the opportunity to integrate technology into the classroom. It's not about having 100 computers in the class. We have limited resources and we can do a lot.

"It's all about passion, love of what we are doing and also, we need to share whatever we have.

"Stop blaming the challenges. Use a stumbling block as a stepping stone to success."

See part of my interview with Moliehe in the video, above, or on YouTube.


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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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