Monday, December 19, 2011

Ken Klay, our chief technology officer, e-mailed us an article from BBC News about the digitizing of textbooks. South Korea is planning to completely replace paper textbooks with digital ones. Exciting, right? Taking advantage of technology available, being able to run electronic searches through the books, put in links to cross-references, even have animated illustrations! Should make education so much better, right?
"The sad truth is that students can learn just as badly with a class full of computers, interactive whiteboards and mobile technology as they can with wooden desks and a chalkboard," said science and ICT teacher David Weston, founder of the consultancy Informed Education. - "Digital Textbooks Open a New Chapter"
This statement is the most important one in the article – digital technology is useful, but it is all just tools. A chisel in the hand of a craftsman will produce something far more excellent than a precision saw or laser in the hand of a typical person. The real value is in the wisdom that goes into the work.

So yes, we hope to be the "cool techies" who bring digital textbooks and computerized experiments to education in Africa. But if that is all we contribute, we will have done them very poor service indeed. Our focus is to give them education that has a godly worldview, that teaches students to understand the world around them, to know God, and to know how to apply that education to every area of their lives. That's why we're going after education as a system—curriculum, teachers, administrators, school boards, all of it together needs to have this purpose if education will truly be transformational.

This was Anthony's response:
Many will be coming into this market. We cannot win with the weapons of the world, but if the Lord intends to have us help Africa have a transforming curriculum, He will help us to miraculously do it. 

I can imagine how Gideon felt when he had so few men to fight and then God whittled  him down to 300. We read the story and know the outcome, but he didn't know what was going to happen. It is not like Israel hadn't lost a fight before. I think his heart was in his throat as he approached the battle. 

I have written of storming the gates of hell, quite frankly I believe we are hitting that gate now. Yet, we are feeling our weakness and frailty greatly. Shall we rejoice like Paul? For when I am weak He is strong. 

I have no doubt we need more people, more money, more of the Holy Spirit ... wow, how can those compare? They really do not. I thank God for each of you an all you are doing. I encourage each of you to take the time to bask in the light of the Lord, for as the Holy Spirit has more way in our lives, then God can work in us to will and do as He desires.

I pray for each of you and in particular Claude and Joe who are so overworked. I pray for times of peace and rest. I pray we will all know what we are to do today, to do it with all our heart and to trust God for tomorrow as He gives us light and guidance.

Thank you Ken for this reminder that the battle is fierce and that the battle is the Lord's.

Please fight with us on your knees.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quite a surprise!

When a package arrived via Amazon from the TEN3 team, saying to open on December 6, I figured maybe it was a book or something. Here was my reaction to the THRiVE:

In case you don't know, a THRiVE is like an iPad, but by Toshiba.

Now let me say that I've never really wanted a mobile device. We've talked about getting an Android to start working on mobile implementation of our curriculum, but I was figuring a few years in the future. I've viewed tablets like Americans in 1900 viewed the horseless carriage--a toy for the rich. Nice if you just want something to carry around and browse, but I need a workhorse. I know they are the computers of the future, but I figured that until they had F1-12 keys, full-service office programs and archive managers, it would be laptops for me.

It's kind of funny how the topic in church tonight was James 4:2-3, "You lust, and don’t have. You kill, covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You don’t have, because you don’t ask. You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures." In this case, I received what I didn't even think to ask for (and am still astonished at the generosity of my dear colleagues). So what will I spend it for? I pray it will be to teach people to use it as a tool to focus on God, rather than be distracted from Him.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Saturday I was working on the Creating Styles chapter of our Computer Essentials book, changing it to be based on OpenOffice Light on Puppy Linux, rather than the standard OpenOffice on Ubuntu. I was frustrated a lot of the day by the exercise documents. I had already rebuilt them twice. The first time it was for AbiWord, the default word processor for Puppy. Then, when I learned we could use OpenOffice Light, I jumped at the chance because that's a more powerful program that does what we teach much cleaner. So I made the documents over again to work on OpenOffice, this time with a more simplified template than we had in the original. And when I was working on chapter 4, I had realized that I didn't have certain styles we needed in the template, so I had to add them to the template and reload it onto each of the files. Then in the Creating Styles chapter (chapter 5), I tested the exercise modifying the Internet Link style, and found that it messed up things everywhere, and it was something that could look fixed but still carry a hidden problem. So I spent a lot of the day cleaning out those files and restructuring the exercises to avoid this issue. Great, I was thinking. A huge part of the day put into re-re-redoing these same files.
Then, when I just had a couple of hours left in the evening, I was finally ready to go through the chapter. It transitioned almost perfectly! I've never gone through a chapter so fast!

I've been reading Proverbs lately, praying certain verses over myself and TEN3. We are having to make so many critical decisions towards our huge vision:

to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
For the upright will inhabit the land,
and those with integrity will remain in it,
discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,
delivering you from the way of evil,
from men of perverted speech

The education we are building will never prosper and remain without wisdom from the Lord. So often during our arduous Skype meetings, talking about how to expand the types of education we are doing and how to serve the schools in all the countries that are asking us, how to become the top education provider in Africa, I wish I could see down the years to know what we need to anticipate. But we are given just to see today, and we must pray for wisdom to act on what we know now, trusting that God will see to the steps that come after.