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Monday, January 28, 2008

How would you use cell phones to bring Web 2.0 to Cambodia?



My friend Beth Kanter and I have been talking about this project for some time. Beth is an amazing resource (and award winning blogger) for nonprofit fundraising using all types of Web 2.0 tools and I highly recommend her blog.

So, today, as part of her efforts to help a rural Cambodian school, I'm making an unusual request of you, the readers to reach out and do something.

What is this school?
We can all have our "pity parties" but this is how the students get to attend this school:
"Students, picked by lottery, come daily for six weeks to learn word processing, spread sheets, and Internet use, on our one, slow connection, acquiring a useful skill for future employment. Computer education groups repeat on a rotating basis."
What does a lesson look like at this school?



When you complain about your student teacher ratios, look at everyone gathered around the computer in this lesson!

Cambodian bloggers (such as Mam Sari profiled in Beth's blog post) are dedicated, but would you do as Mam Sari does to update his blog?

"He has set up a blog and has a Facebook profile, but to update them he has to ride his motorbike an hour into Phnom Penh. "

What I'm asking you to do (pick one - or two):
  • Contribute the $10 -- If her school raises the most, the Sharing Foundation will give her $50,000 additional for the school. (She has already raised $19,000 with bloggers and facebook contributors.)
  • Answer Beth's Questions: (If you write a blog post, use the tag )
    • What advice would you offer to Mam Sari about incorporating computer instruction on a REALLY slow connection and with one computer connected to the Internet?
    • Are there any web resources or books that you think I should send over to him to read?
    • Dream a little dream with me, if we had a fast Internet connection, what are the possibilities?
  • Answer the twitterpoll by replying in twitter @coolcatteacher the answer to this question, " How would you do web2.0 in rural cambodia with cell phone connection?"
She wants REAL feedback! I already see 3-4 things that he could do to better get his message across to the students. (Remember, he was talking in English for the video so that may have been why some of the students weren't participating. Also remember that they have dial up.)

Note from Vicki: This is a one time thing. Do not expect to see any fundraising from me in the future. I've been watching Beth for some time and believe she is doing very worthwhile work. When one deals with developing countries with a culture of corruption, the struggle is that bureaucracies and governments siphon off the funds that are intended to go to THE PEOPLE. In this case, I feel good that the money is going where it is intended to go. To help PEOPLE. That and my trust relationship with Beth and desire to understand if we really can help things with such efforts is why I am posting. I appreciate your feedback on this.

****I'm posting her blog post today with permission below:



An Internet Lesson in a Rural Cambodian Village: And Then You Wait ...

by Beth Kanter

I launched a bloggers campaign and Twitter Wall of Fame as part of the Sharing Foundation's America's Giving Challenge. (To learn more about the Sharing Foundation, see this article) I've been reaching out to my network, and Vicki Davis is one of the people I turned to for to ask for help with the from her network of wired educators.

Yes, I hope they will contribute the $10 so we can win the $50,000 (which will certainly help us make improvements to our computer school and the Sharing Foundation's many other programs), but I am also want feedback about how to improve a computer program in a rural village in a developing country with really slow Internet. I know it is difficult without being there ..

The Sharing Foundation's Computer School was opened in 2006. Computer classes are held every morning utilizing donated laptops and desktops (that are hand-carried over by Dr. Hendrie on her quarterly trips) Students, picked by lottery, come daily for six weeks to learn word processing, spread sheets, and Internet use, on our one, slow connection, acquiring a useful skill for future employment. Computer education groups repeat on a rotating basis.

I observed Mam Sari, our head English teacher (and computer geek) teach a Google search lesson and captured video above. Mam Sary gets on the Internet via his cell phone connection which costs the Foundation roughly $28 per month. It's slow, but he is able to teach a lesson to the students about how to find supplementary materials for their school assignments. One of the students asked if Google was the best search engine. Mam Sary said, 'Yes, Google is the best." This is amazing because during my last trip in 2004 when I taught ESL, these students gave me a blank stare when I mentioned the words computer and Internet.

As I mentioned, the cell phone connection is really slow. I loved how Mam Sari introduced this to his students. He said, "type in your search term, click on search, and then you wait." Since we only have one Internet connection, all 15 students were huddled around the computer. Mam Sari did not waste this time, he engaged them in a discussion about the content they were searching. (The bad health effects of smoking)

Mam Sary also received several of the video cameras Jay Dedman and Ryanne Hodson brought over to Cambodia last July donated by Doug from the video blogging community. (Jay and Ryan not only created this fantastic video about the Sharing Foundation's projects, but have also donated and asked other video bloggers to support the cause.) Jay and Ryanne taught him how to use the camera and I helped him again a month later when I was there.

That is Mam Sari. He attended the Cambodian Bloggers Summit with me. We participated in a small group role play exercise. Our group was assigned to "Social Media." First we discussed the definition of the term. It became clear that social media in Cambodia means "any media that can solve social issues."

Mam Sari was thrilled to learn about the Web2.0 and is very interested incorporating some of the ideas into his instruction, but unfortunately our very slow Internet connection doesn't make it easy. He has set up a blog and has a Facebook profile, but to update them he has to ride his motorbike an hour into Phnom Penh. The connection is to slow for blogger or Facebook to load. If we had a better Internet connection (very expensive to get high speed Internet in our rural village), we could do more. For example, English lessons on Skype with students in US, post some of the videos created with the cameras on Youtube, use his digital tape recorder to create podcasts, student blogs, etc.

So, my question to Vicki's network is:

  • What advice would you offer to Mam Sary about incorporating computer instruction on a REALLY slow connection and with one computer connected to the Internet?
  • Are there any web resources or books that you think I should send over to him to read?
  • Dream a little dream with me, if we had a fast Internet connection, what are the possibilities?

There has already been over $19,000 for the Sharing Foundation's America's Giving Challenge raised through the unselfish giving of over 650 people like Jay Dedman, Ryanne Hodson, and Coffee with Doug. If you have not yet donated $10 (or more) to this important cause, there is only a few days left to donate and change a Cambodian child's life and maybe help us get a faster Internet connection!

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