The Power of a Laptop

June 15, 2012

 Young Rubona primary students sit neatly tucked next to senior 6 ASYV students, with their eyes transfixed on a compact, lightweight machine sitting before them. Their curiosity and excitement is only outweighed by a youthful shyness that keeps them from grabbing at the machines. However, their excitement soon takes over and they begin running their fingers over the neatly designed, user-friendly laptops, which the students will soon be able to call their own.

In a neighboring room three ASYV students sit with the Rubona primary school teachers. Step-by-step they walk the teachers through how to use the laptops. The teachers are as intrigued by the machines as their students and listen attentively to the ASYV students, learning how to use and incorporate each computer program into their lesson plans. What is taking place is revolutionary.

The Media Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) groundbreaking One Laptop per Child program is taking off here in Rubona due to a pivotal amount of help from ASYV’s Professional Skills IT program. The collaboration between ASYV, Rubona Primary School and One Laptop Per Child local team came to fruition through the efforts and foresight of ASYV founder, Anne Heyman, Professional Skills Coordinator, Sika Somberg and the Principal of Rubona Primary School.

Our students have spent the past few weeks setting up and programming around 70 out of the 700 laptops currently in the primary school, under the tutelage of ASYV IT Coordinator and teacher, Deo Kabirigi. Now that the students are familiar with the machines and have acquired an in-depth understanding of the computers’ hardware and educational software capabilities they have entered a second phase- instruction. Every Thursday our Senior 6 students sit with the students and teachers to show them how to fully utilize the laptops.

Programs such as SCRATCH, SPEAK, MATH and TURTLE ART were available for the laptops and will provide the teachers with the tools for more interactive English, Math, Science and Geography lessons. The laptops will also help the students learn how to organize ideas and strengthen their information processing, critical thinking and logic building skills.

As the ASYV students work with the Rubona Primary school teachers and students, they are receiving instruction from two One Laptop Per Child trainers, who are teaching them project-based learning skills, as well as how to more effectively train the teachers and students in Rubona. Through this program our students are acquiring significant skills that will help prepare them for the professional world, as well as allow them to be apart of changing the lives of young primary school children, one laptop at a time.