Tutaleni I. Asino
Blog Post

Visiting Nangombe Combined School


As per an agreement with the principal from the previous day, I was given access to grades 9, sections A & B, and grade 10, section B. These classes were chosen because their teachers were at a workshop and because the learners had all either taken a class called entrepreneurship or would be taking the class later this year. The textbook used for that class has a section on Information Communication Technology (ICT) in education, and I was therefore asked to speak on the same topic as a way of helping to reinforce some of the concepts in the textbook.The Process
iPad_and_phone.jpgIn each class I started with a conversation about technology, different uses and asking what the students liked about technology in general. After telling them about my background and my interests, I asked how many students had cell phones, and in all three classes, no one had a cell phone of their own but all had a cell phone at home (in the community, I would say that over 90% of the people that have cell phones have never had a landline at home). I informed the classes that I would be sharing with them two pieces of technologies and that I would ask them questions on what they think about the technologies.

I used the steps bellow to guide the rest of the class:
Step 1 – Familiarisation/Creative Exercise:
“As a class we are going to create our ideal cell phone. We’ll make a list of what we want this phone to do and have, so make sure you give your ideas so that they are included. Here’s the question: If you had an unlimited amount of money and you could create your ideal phone, what would it be like, what would it have or be able to do?”

a) In each class I asked for a volunteer to  write down the list in my notebook while I wrote down the list on the chalkboard. In hindsight, I should have allowed the note taker to use my laptop instead of writing on paper as a way to interact with more technology.

b) After we completed the list, I told the students that I had a telephone that could do all or most of what they came up with and went through each bullet point and showed how the iPhone could or with a bit of modification accomplished all they listed. It was interesting that most of the ideas that they had are things that almost any smart phone could do.

Step 2 –  “What do you like about the iPhone?”

a) After going through the list that the students came up with, I divided all the students into small groups and went from group to group showing the students the iPhone and having them interact with it.

b) As I finished with each group, I told them to come up with a list of things that they like about the iPhone or things that they wished it could do.

Step 3 –  “If you could take the iPad home, what would you use it for?”

a) After interacting with the iPhone and finishing their lists regarding the iPhone, I introduced the iPad.

b) Again, I split the students into groups and showed the iPad and allowed them to interact with it.

Step 4 –  “What do you like or dislike about the iPad (Positives/Negatives of the iPad)?”

a) After I went to each group and explained what I could about the iPad as well as showing different apps I informed them that we would be having a drawing competition

b) Each group had to agree on an idea of what they would like to draw and using the “Draw for iPad” program by Eric Sadun, I gave each group 3 minutes to produce a drawing.

c) Once all the groups had finished their drawings, we voted for which drawing was the best.

The list below is a list of what the students came up with. I wrote the ideas as the students said them, providing clarification in brackets when necessary :

Grade 9A – Accounting Class

GroupDrawing1.jpgQuestion 1. If you had an unlimited amount of money and you could create your ideal phone, what would it be like, what would it have or be able to do?

  • A phone having a computer and having a television and if I am in a car it can show me the road ahead of me and a phone that can make plans for me when I need it, or maybe a building that I want to build
  • Tell me who is calling
  • Tell me where a person is when they call
  • Can monitor my house for thieves
  • Show upcoming directions when I am driving
  • Should allow me to spy on people
  • A phone that can allow me to easily access Namibian history (maybe a book)
  • A phone that I can talk into and write for me (speech to text conversion)
  • Let say I have two girls that I like and I want to know if one is positive(A phone that can tell me if a person I would like to date is HIV positive or negative)
  • Can allow me to buy a car
  • A phone that can give out money (actual money withdraw as done at an ATM)

Question 2. What do you like about the iPhone

  • It can show all the information
  • It can save voicemails and make it easier to access them
  • It can save history
  • I can save my secrets
  • I can chat on facebook
  • I can watch television

Question 3. If you could take the iPad home, what would you use it for?

  • I’ll use it to watch the world cup in my village with my family
  • I’ll use it to read some news
  • I can charge people to watch TV or sports
  • I can use it to teach my family and others in my community about technology

Question 4. Negatives of the iPad

  • What if I am going where there is no network
  • If it can know who is HIV positive, that is not always good.
Grade 10 B – History Class

GroupDrawing2.jpgQuestion 1.If you had an unlimited amount of money and you could create your ideal phone, what would it be like, what would it have or be able to do?

  • Should have a TV
  • Should have an address book
  • Should have a computer
  • Should have a dictionary
  • Should be able to make video phone calls
  • Should have a camera
  • Should have a calculator
  • Should have a touch screen
  • Should have the internet
  • Should have a call register (call history)
  • Should have two SIM cards
  • Should have a lot of memory
  • Should be able to tell you who is calling
  • Should be able to monitor my house and catch a thief

Question 2. What do you like about the iPhone

  • When someone wants to watch television they can watch it but you can also make others to pay for it

Question 3. If you could take the iPad home, what would you use it for?

  • I would use it to watch TV
  • I would use it to watch the world cup
  • I can charge people to see and use
  • I can use it to sell my products

Question 4. What do you like or dislike about the iPad (Positives/Negatives of the iPad)

  • iPad can show many information, like if you want to understand something like a word, you would go into the dictionary and see all the definition of it
  • With the iPad you can write, draw and make something good


Grade 9B – Entrepreneurship Class

GroupDrawing5.jpgQuestion 1. If you had an unlimited amount of money and you could create your ideal phone, what would it be like, what would it have or be able to do?

  • It should tell me who is calling and I should see their picture
  • It should show me if someone is stealing or breaking into my house

Question 2. What do you like about the iPhone

  • I can play games with it or on it
  • It can show all the information
  • I can listen to a lot of music

Question 3. If you could take the iPad home, what would you use it for?

  • I’ll use it to watch the world cup
  • I’ll use it to draw
  • I can charge people to watch TV or sports

Question 4. What do you like or dislike about the iPad (Positives/Negatives of the iPad)?

  • I can take it home and on the way someone may beat me up and take it from me
  • I can put all my books in it and not need to carry many books with me

studentDrawing2.jpgAs evident from the lists above, all classes had very similar expectations and ideas of what they wanted the iPad and iPhone to be able to do. I  however got the impression that most of the ideas that the students where coming up with were a result of our conversations earlier. I think there was a fear of making a stupid suggestion (a normal behaviour for the age group), and maybe as a result no one was willing to offer their wildest of ideas.

With the exception of wanting to use the iPad/iPhone to monitor thieves, and for it to be a functioning ATM, I did not find any interactions with the iPad at Nangombe to be different from those I’ve seen or heard about in other places especially from those in technologically rich areas. The students were basically looking at it as a tool for accessing information and because of the world cup there was a significant interest in accessing information related to football (soccer) and also watching matches.

The one key thing that I did however notice was the excitement and willingness to interact with the devices. The learning curve was almost none existence, which lends credence to Alan’s comment in a previous post about natural design. Although I took time to explain a few things, I think the students would have played around and figured most things out on their own. Unlike the hesitancy and fear that I encountered in other locations, in this context, the students could not wait to get their hands on the technology.

I am convinced that given more time the students at Nangombe, especially in light of the curiosity they displayed, would be able to come up with many different usage and design ideas. They would probably come up with ideas and design challenges that I would have never thought about and better articulate some of the limitations best on their environment. It would be an interesting experience to design an iPad lab where students can go and use the technology for a longer period and see if their interest and excitement wanes overtime.

boys.jpgThis experience was fun for me and I think for the students too. At first I was disappointed because I did not feel that the students were thinking creatively enough about how they can use the technology. I thought about it more and realized how unfair it was for me to expect someone to give me a list of ideas when they’ve only interacted with a product for a few minutes, especially considering that many of the students were interacting with a computer for the very first time. I also got a sense that there was a bit of an overload for some of the students because in one hour they had interacted with more ICT than they had in their whole life. I think the excitement for the newness of the products could have possibly skewed their perception. I know that for me the perceptions that I have of the iPad and iPhones are different today now that the honeymoon period is over. I am now able to see them more as another tool/environment amongst many options available to me.

Things to consider for the next location:
It would have been nice to have someone else help observe or maybe video record the experience because I am sure I missed out on many of the back channel conversations. An additio
nal person, especially with another iPad or laptop would have made for a more effective use of time. I also think that if I had given the students the option of writing up their reactions to the iPad (or on the day with technology) and have them bring their write ups the following day, I probably would have gotten more of a realistic perception as they would have had more time to process/internalize the experience.

I am going to try the same process in the capital city Windhoek, where students have more exposure to different technologies and see if the outcome is different.

A quick plug/appeal:
students.jpgIf anyone reading this has computers  or other technologies that they would like to donate to Nangombe Combined School, please let me know. It would be great to go back to this school a year from now and set up a computer lab that students can use. I know this can be said for any schools and granted I am biased, but I think this is a wonderful school filled with many optimistic and promising learners.

Date written: 11th June 2010
Word count: 2148