Saturday, 29 October 2011

Kuyu Project Digital Literacy Camp, Ghana: Learning How to Blog

I'm just writing this post to show that I'm teaching Keta Senior High Technical School students how to blog using blogger, at the Kuyu Project Digital Literacy Camp. Please meet them:

Jo Webber helping students out at the computer while I demo

Monday, 24 October 2011

Digital Literacy Training for Keta Senior High Technical School Students

The twenty first century comes with its own challenges and opportunities for the modern learner. With the proliferation of the Internet and associated technologies, learning and collaboration are taking new digital twists. The requirement list for today's student has one new subject: Digital Literacy. While other parts of the world have taken leaps and bounds in this area, Africa is picking up rather slowly. Luckily, there are a few initiatives aimed at helping African students to cross the technological chasm. One of them is the Kuyu Project, originally coming out of Kenya.

The Kuyu Project is an African Digital Literacy initiative aimed at teaching African high school students how to use social media and allied tools for social change. I am collaborating with Ghanaian blogger Mac-Jordan Degadjor and digital consultant/strategist Jo Webber to organise a digital literacy camp for Keta Senior High Technical School students. This is is the first Kuyu Digital Literacy Camp to be held outside Kenya, where the project originated from.

The objective of the Keta camp is to introduce students to a wide array of social media tools to:
  • boost civic activism
  • boost how well they can collaborate with students from abroad and within Ghana
  • research more effectively using online tools
  • build future careers using their newly acquired knowledge
  • increase knowledge about safety and wisely using social media
Students of Keta Senior High Technical School are bracing themselves to be part of the making of a digital revolution in their school and community, and are keen to incorporate the skills they gain from the camp in their various school activities.

Eldad Nutakor, president of the Writers and Debaters Club (WDC) expects that the programme will make students realise the opportunities that the digital world offers. He is of the view that most students think using the Internet and its associated tools is a waste of time, given the academic structure. He hopes that the massive transformation that will be seen in the lives of participants will make the others to see the light. The leader of a group of socially conscious students, Sarah Wutsikah, is looking forward to use her newly acquired digital skills to lead her group to set up an NGO right after school. She expects the programme to be interesting and hopefully get more students to be interested in ICT-related careers. Finally, ICT Club president, Lesley Commey, hopes the camp will enable them to use videos effectively to cover school events. He is also upbeat about meeting up with camp trainers and expanding his network in the digital space. 

We hope the camp will contribute to raising digital champions in this part of Ghana, and contribute positively to the lives of its participants.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Python African Tour Kumasi: Programming in the Garden City of Ghana

Python African Tour Kumasi workshops were held at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) ICT Centre and British Council, Kumasi, from 29th September to 1st October, 2011. This was a follow-up to the Python African Tour Ghana workshops/hackathons held in Accra last January. The event attracted more than 60 students and staff of the university as well as IT professionals.
The Kumasi training programme was designed to equip mostly new and passionate programmers to solve problems through computer programming (using Python of course). The specific objectives of PAT Kumasi were:

  • To introduce participants to concepts in programming and methodologies
  • To give them hands-on practice with the Python programming language
  • To encourage more students and professionals to take up the Python programming language
The Workshops
Problem solving, the Python way: @boyombo from Evince Systems making a point
 Participants were welcomed to the training (KNUST ICT Centre) with a brief presentation of Python African Tour, its objectives and the first PAT Ghana event that was held in Accra in January. The day’s technical activities started with a general introduction to programming (i.e. concepts including variables, data types, statements and expressions, control structures, etc) by Edward Pie (@hackstockpie). Participants were introduced to IDLE as these concepts were demonstrated.

On the second day, new participants showed up, so Francis Addai (@faddai) did a quick recap of the first day’s concepts. He further continued with more examples on control structures, then data structures in Python and functions. Next, differences between using IDLE (interactive mode) and files with py extension (script mode) were pointed out, and the learners were guided to create python programs in files. Things were put in a more practical perspective after lunch when Bayo Opadeyi (@boyombo) took the participants through a voting application (web app).  The Urllib2 module was used to create an HTTP server and a client to send and receive requests. It was fun!

Saturday's training started with Francis reviewing the previous day's lessons about data structures and functions. Next, Bayo led trainees to complete the voting app which was started the previous day. He then proceeded with a lecture on programming patterns (abstraction and recursion), explaining that their use makes programs more efficient. He further demoed some software he built with Python and Django. He concluded his presentation with advice for developers, sharing some personal experiences and philosophies. Francis concluded the day's training with Intro to Django tutorials.
Cross-section of #PATKumasi attendees at the end of the final day
During the closing remarks participants were encouraged to join the Ghana Python User Group and follow up on developments on both Facebook and Twitter. Students expressed interest in attending future PAT workshops in KNUST. PDFs and videos were copied for participants to go and continue exploring with the python programming language. Links to resources online were given out including the Online Python Programming Course set up at P2P.

Yedase- Thank you!
Python African Tour (Ghana) is grateful to the efforts of our sponsors and supporters: Google (Gold), BECATEC (Silver), Ageliaco (Silver), PSF (Hackathon), Hutspace, Ghana GTUG, Evince Systems, KNUST GTUG, Adroit Ghana, KNUST and British Council. Special “thank you” also to our trainers-Francis Addai, Edward Pie and Bayo Opadeyi for their enthusiasm, patience and dedication.

R to L: #PATKumasi trainers (@hackstockpie, @boyombo & @faddai) with @dotkwame and @niiadjeisowah