Sunday, June 20, 2010

How to Teach a Computer Class with One Computer and Minimal Electricity

After many setbacks in projects I’ve tried to get started in my village (a school garden, a map of the world, a regular library class), I’ve finally begun a computer class. I had planned on giving the class to Class 6 (grade 6), but the principal suggested those students focus only on the Secondary School Entrance Exam which happens in October.

Unwilling to let all my preparation for this class go to waste, I suggested starting the class with Class 5. I got the green light, so the principal announced the start of the class at the latest PTA meeting. The parents seemed to like the idea, and one of them even asked if I’d do the class with adults too. I said sure, of course.

The first class would begin at 10am on Saturday. There’s only electricity at night and on Saturday, but every school night, the kids have class to prepare for the Secondary School Entrance Exam, so I decided Saturday was the best bet.

My class of two arrived at my house at 8:15am, ready to start. I reminded them that class started at 10, and they said they knew. They hung out at my house, every 15 minutes saying something like, “It’s still not 10 yet!” Finally, 10 o’clock arrived like Christmas morning for these boys, and we started class.

They were more enthusiastic than I’ve ever seen them in anything else. We did simple things, like talked about the rules for the computer, naming the parts of the computer, and turning the computer on, but they got excited for every part of it.

After class, when I walked around town, a couple of adults asked me if they could join too, and could I teach them how to use the internet and set up a Bebo account. I said I’d do my best, but without internet, it might be difficult to explain how a social networking site works.

So now, how does one set up a computer class without, you know, computers, plural?

I found a sample keyboard online and printed copies for anyone who came to class. Since my class will be mostly focused on typing, we’ll use the paper sheets to practice from a book I made.

The school has one computer, printer, photocopier, an extra keyboard, and an extra mouse. If there are only the two kids in my class, they can both use real keyboards, but if there are more people, we’ll use those sheets.

All the parents thought it was hilarious when they heard that I’d found the paper keyboards to use; they all said they want to use the real thing if they came to the class. They’re worse than the kids!