Welcome to the online Community of Practice

About this website

This Community of Practice supports the educational components of Vanuatu's Universal Access Program, including a training workshop for over 60 teachers and zone curriculum advisers, to be held in Port Vila between August 24th and 28th, 2015. This website serves both as the learning management system for the training, and the hub for ongoing community support.

Background

Vanuatu has liberalised its telecommunications market in 2008. One of the policies of the Government is the Universal Access Policy (UAP). This policy aims to provide telecommunications internet services into rural and unserved areas that are not commercially viable for operators to provide telecommunications services. As a means of expanding demand for the furtherance of Vanuatu’s development goals, TRR has embarked on three pilot programs. One of them, Tablets for Students (TFS), will make 7 inch Android tablets available to students in 7 schools located throughout Vanuatu. Another, the Computer Lab/Internet Community Centre programme, is designed to assist with the installation of computer labs in 15 schools across the country. Integral to the success of these programmes is the ability of teachers and other key stakeholders to understand the technical capabilities, requirements, strengths and limitations of the computing resources they have at hand, of the internet in general and most importantly of the professional community of practice which they collectively comprise.

Vanuatu UAP Training News

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The UAP CLICC and TFS Training Workshop closes after a successful week
by David Leeming - Tuesday, 1 September 2015, 12:55 AM
 

The Group Photo

The UAP Computer Lab and Internet Community Centre (CLICC) and Tablets for Students (TFS) Training Workshop closed on Friday 28th August 2015  after a successful week. 63 participants, teachers and zone curriculum advisers from 19 schools, had traveled to Port Vila for the training in the...

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Available courses

The government of Vanuatu in 2013 passed an Act with the goal for improving access to telecommunications services for locations which are not or not adequately served by existing services. This UAP was developed and passed by the Council of Ministers on 4 November 2013 and is supported through a number of ICT projects involving multiple stakeholders over many years. Improving access to telecommunications often means bringing technology where none existed before. Bringing technology to remote rural areas comes with a number of challenges such as maintenance of the equipment, training of people, fostering a community of users to learn how to effectively make use of these technologies and addressing the dark side of technology and the Internet. Central to Vanuatu's UAP strategy is the concept of schools as hubs, sharing Internet connectivity, digital resources and skills. In this session participants get their first familiarisation with technologies of rural UAP sites and learn how to be part of a community of users that will help each other as their learning progresses.

One of the core components of the UAP Network is the UAP Gateway and Server. The UAP Gateway and Server was designed to address several challenges and needs of people making use of these technologies in rural schools. For example, it should be able to filter inappropriate Internet content and protect users from outside attackers as much as possible. These sites often operate in low and unreliable Internet connection environments, pre-loading the servers with many educational resources locally accessible will significantly improve the learning experience for users. The UAP Gateway and Server also comes with a collection of useful tools to build local content and share files among other things. All of these features are packaged and presented to the users into a easy to use Community and School Portal website. This session introduces the participants to this UAP Gateway and Server and a brief overview of its user features through the Community and School Portal.

Teachers and students in Vanuatu need relevant and up to date digital resources to support teaching and learning with ICTs. In addition to resources authored specifically for Vanuatu, we can look to the wider world of Open Educational Resources (OERs). OERs are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The UAP is making available to participating schools a large large library of digital OERs called Rachel, resources from regional organisations complied by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and from other sources such as UNESCO. In addition, TRR has provided Vanuatu teaching resources and curriculum materials. Vanuatu teachers also need to be aware of online resources including open distance learning courses. This session will provide a basic introduction to all of the above. 

Tablets for Students (TFS) is a component of Vanuatu's Universal Access Program (UAP) that will make class sets of 7 inch Android tablets, charging trolleys and (where applicable) solar power supplies available to students in 7 schools located throughout Vanuatu. The tablets are delivered pre-configured with almost 50 educational apps in both English and French, covering a variety of content areas. This training module teaches participants how to make use of the Android platform for education. The participants will be introduced to Android and how to administer this platform. They will then review and become familiarised with the various educational applications. First steps are taken towards integrating the use of tablets into the teaching and learning environment, including ICT pedagogy, classroom and resource management including care, handling and power management.

Over the recent years distance and flexible learning has been changing the traditional education systems across the world. Many wealthy learning institutes have been forced to undergo massive changes in their approach or risk becoming irrelevant. These changes are largely the results of widely available cheaper educational programmes alternatives made available to more people over longer distances. It is now possible for students to enrol and study in a flexible way (for example, while raising kids or working full time) with an education institution on the other side of the globe. This learning approach does not come without its own set of challenges but it keeps on improving all the time and distance and flexible learning is here to stay often providing people with opportunities they would otherwise never could have dreamed of. This session provides an entry to the world of distance learning. Starting with a live briefing on the University of the South Pacific (USP) e-learning and online services, participants will gain hands-on experience of studying distance learning courses of the Edwards Computer Foundation (ECF) using the widely-used Moodle platform. A live demonstration of a synchronous learning platform will follow, and participants will also be introduced to free and open educational courses.

There are many rationales pointing to the need for more locally produced and/or relevant digital resources for Pacific Islands education  systems. A joint ISOC/UNESCO/OECD survey has demonstrated that the development of local content improves the value of communication networks, and contributes to increased uptake and lower prices. Teacher champions and administrators will need to understand the integral role they play in this equation, and must be provided with the skills and resources necessary to ensure the creation of content that is relevant, unique and of value to themselves and to others. With the infusion of ICTs and media culture into all aspects of modern life, young people need to acquire digital and media skills as an intrinsic part of their learning in all content areas and in literacy education. With ICT tools as powerful enablers of authentic learning experiences, school teachers, students and communities can become co-producers of local content in important curriculum areas. For instance, to ensure that indigenous knowledge and cultural values are transferred between the generations. Such local content collaborations can bring a sense of pride and achievement. In this training module participants are introduced to local content development. Participants will learn how to build their own school website, a local knowledge base using a wiki and several multimedia tools such as image, sound and video editing.

Participants are tasked with one or more evening projects they can do in small groups of 3-4. The projects should encompass knowledge acquired throughout the workshop. It can contain elements of one or more of the sessions covered throughout the week.

Vanuatu's Universal Access Program (UAP) aims to increase demand for ICTs and ICT services with the understanding that schools, especially in rural areas, are hubs for their communities in many ways. The UAP provides connectivity, equipment and capacity building for school-based facilities that will be shared with communities in mutually beneficial ways. Such synergy has been observed in studies of similar community-access and telecentre programmes around the world. Furthermore, sustainability can be regarded from several perspectives including social and organisational as well as financial. It is the facilities that are most useful and utilised that will evolve supporting ecosystems and the financial flows to keep the facilities going over time. In this session, participants will gain insights into administrative techniques and strategies for sustainable school and community shared access arrangements.

Achieving the goal of ICT integration into a country's education system cannot be achieved overnight, and has many determinants. For instance connectivity, availability of ICT equipment and digital resources, teachers' user skills and ICT pedagogy skills, the matter of infusing ICTs into the curriculum and the learning environment, teacher education and policy development at different levels. As recommended by organisations such as UNESCO, it is best achieved through a system-wide approach. At the school level, teacher champions and administrators and local education officials such as zone advisers need to nurture the evolving ICT culture and be aware of the changes it brings. For instance, ICT can enable new teaching methods, change the relations between the teacher and the student, the student and their learning, and the schools and the education authorities. This workshop is only the beginning for an ongoing process of ICT learning and appropriation by the teachers, who will all be at different stages in the process. In this session the participants will explore and begin to unpack these challenges and so gain understanding of the change management processes that will be needed.  

ICT are simply tools and they come in many forms. Information systems are common tools which were for a long time mostly available to organisations with more resources. These days are mostly over due to the proliferation of free software, software developed in an open manner often collaboratively by groups of people and even commercial organisations. It is almost always possible to find some good quality free software for any task at hand and effectively improving the processes within a school administration is no exception. SchoolTool is a freely available student information system and database which can help in organising and  more effectively managing student information, teacher grading of students, parent information and more. This session introduces SchoolTool which is also made available for free on the UAP Gateway and Server.

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