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 Thursday, November 14, 2013


As part of the Technology Salon, a list of resources around the topic was created to serve as a reference about ICT4E in Rwanda. Many ICT4E initiatives are being implemented in Rwanda. Let's look at how the Rwanda Education Commons, an online platform, TeacherMate, handheld computers focused on literacy and XO laptops from OLPC are being used for learning in Rwanda.

ICT is supported at national levels in Rwanda from Vision 2020 which seeks to transform Rwanda into a middle-income country and a knowledge-based society by 2020 to the National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) strategy which has ICT as the guiding policy to develop the Rwanda information and knowledge economy to the Ministry of Education's ICT in Education policy to integrate ICT at all educational institutions, at all levels.

Rwanda Education Commons
The Rwanda Education Commons (REC) was a USAID funded initiative with the Rwanda Ministry of Education (MOE), implemented by FHI 360 to promote the effective use of ICTs in education. In partnership with the MOE, REC expanded access to quality education by building communities of educators around the sharing of educational materials and resources. MOE was involved from the inception of the project, local staff were all Rwandan, and the project was housed and embedded within MOE's offices.
The REC program worked in four areas: policy, education content, hardware and software, and teacher professional development.

Teacher Professional Development
At teacher training colleges, many teachers were not computer literate when the project began. The project provided training to use technology and the REC platform at the teacher training colleges. As confidence grew, the use of REC for discussions, sharing information and accessing resources increased. Using technology moved from zero understanding to a basic competency. All teachers at the teacher training colleges used the portal. Coaches at the colleges now provide further training.

OLE: TeacherMates and OLPCs
TeacherMate is an application and tool that has pre-set lessons on literacy. OLE is working with Innovations for Learning, an organization that uses digital learning applications to improving student literacy, who created the TeacherMate. The OLPCs are being used to develop and remix open content for project learning activities.
A question asked was "which is better: the TeacherMate to OLPC?" Comparing the two would be like "comparing a cow to a goat". In other words, you can't, and you shouldn't. The objective and use of each one in the classroom is different. With the Teachermate the students engage with the content on one topic. The OLPC is creative, experimental and self-directed.

The Teachermate is game-based engagement. Teachers introduced the technology into the pedagogy and are using it as part of lessons with their students. The students learn the lesson and pass the test. It takes planning to decide how to use the OLPC in what classroom and context. With the OLPC the teacher become more like a facilitator in the classroom, and the potential for learning shifts and expands.

TeacherMate has specific skills built-in for literacy. It has a strong phonics component, introduces students basic phonograms and has dictation spelling activities to help students develop the skills needed to decode and spell new words. Teachers are learning how to identify, remix and adapt content on the OLPC. Open content is key. Some modules in English and math have been produced (The newly introduced OLPC tablets provide more content).

(Source: Technology Salon)