Monday, February 9, 2015

Where are we going from here? Part II

As I mentioned in my previous post, a request from Cameroon got us working on a Programming & Databases series. Meanwhile, another rather unforseen set of circumstances started the curriculum department working on another course. Anthony needed a job. He just didn't have enough missionary support, even combined with his wife's pottery business and Ambit marketing, to take care of the family. He was offered a job as the network administrator for a Christian high school. He was hesitant about it, though. Even though his nickname is "Father Computer," this was not his forte in the field. As he talked with Ken, TEN3's technology officer, about the possibility, Ken replied, "Well, you suck at networking. But if you do this and learn it, we'll get a course out of it. And I've thought for a long time networking is the next major need for computer studies in Africa." Then George, who is good at networking, offered to help him learn it, and write this course. So they've been working on it over the last year, researching, setting parts of the system up, having to wipe everything and start over, and documenting as they go.

When we reported to Joe, our CEO, what we're doing, he challenged us on it. This was not like the plans TEN3 had been laying for a long time, that we'd get curriculum designers together to design degrees in particular major fields under transformational principles, and then find African educators to write the material for that curriculum. No, we replied, we're not going according to that plan. We tried that for years, and while we'd make progress in some areas, we never had all the pieces for that to come together. And in the meantime we've been made aware of different needs and opportunities. African partners have told us that transformational education for primary and secondary schools is more important, since so many don't even make it to universities. Furthermore, the opportunities for getting material writers are more school-specific than we had previously thought. We're going to have to work through teachers where they are at. And it will be a lot easier to introduce new courses and ways of teaching one little thing at a time than to develop an entire innovative way of doing college and trying to dump it in people's laps. But all these things, and these little ways the Lord has led us to work on programming and networking, are opening up for us a better way of accomplishing our vision of Christ-centered, Africa-specific curriculum than we had imagined.

Okay, okay, that's vague. Let me try to clarify. One of the needs Christie shared with us is "Transformational Teacher" training--a generalized version of our CTO teacher training, but made for teachers of any subject, not just computers, getting them to think of themselves as disciple-makers and to adjust their teaching according to effective discipling principles. I responded to that request with a revision of our teacher guide that could speak to teachers of any subject. But we want to offer them more. We'd love to offer them training not just in teaching methods and goals but also how to develop lessons based on the transformational education principles we give them, and we'd love to train them on a tool like Moodle to do it. If they could do that, then we'd have African teachers whom we've trained, developing lessons based on sound educational and Christian principles, for their own context, that we could then help distribute across African countries. Our dream coming true. But to have Moodle, you need a network. And to have a network, you need a network administrator. And a network administrator needs to have taken networking and programming courses.

The funny thing is that, as you could pick up from the story, we didn't plan this. In fact, this does not sound like the plan we had at all. God just used requests from those we serve, and our own tight spaces, to lead us right to where we need to be.

We've still got a long way to go, though. Please continue to pray for us as we strive to develop the needed curriculum, as we meet the needs of our Nigerian, Cameroonian, Zambian, and Kenyan partners. There are so many obstacles that can stop us dead in this long-term plan, so we must depend on God's grace every step of the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment