- Criteria for Evaluating Rural Laptop Programs
Inter Term Programs at “Youth Friendly Centers” and “Youth Friendly Corners”
In between the school terms, the Hands of Charity teams have been setting up XO laptop workshops at local youth centers for students from schools who are not reached by their in school program. These are called Youth Friendly Centers or Corners and are setup to attract kids who would be hanging out on unsafe corners and engaging in risky activities.
Fred Juma Wakasiaka and his teachers post notices ahead of time to promote their workshops and advertise the opportunity to learn to use computers, make music and pictures. This is the draw. The workshop is three days. The first day children learn to use the XO. The second day they each do their own projects, and HIV/AIDS educational activities are introduced. The last day the students share what they have done and learned.
The teachers say that the children get intensely engaged in working on the XO activities. They concentrate for very long periods of time, and don’t want to leave at the end of the day. They work two or three to a laptop. This encourages collaboration, and communication, important learning and human development skills. The traditional school structure does not provide these opportunities. This model is very important in supporting behavior change.
The leaders encourage the students with positive comments about their skills and self images with the goal of helping them appreciate themselves and their talents.
The XO classroom programs also report this same high level of student engagement in learning. The HIV/AIDs classes put children in small groups where they exchange information and together research answers to some of the factual and social impact questions about the AIDS epidemic.
When evaluating programs such as this, there are several learning factors to consider. The most critical is attitude and behavior change. Without behavior and attitude change improving learning skills is difficult.
How do you measure behavior change? Observation must be an acceptable reporting method. Documenting even short period observations of attitude changes is still significant. Once the door of the mind is open, the change is in process. Students themselves report higher interest in learning. We cannot count solely on academic tests to evaluate the success. The human factor is cannot be separated from learning .
Sandra Thaxter Small Solutions Big Ideas
November 30th, 2011