When Manthomeng clicks on the cartoon paperclip that has appeared in her inbox and a picture of her flashes up on screen, she gasps, as does the group of nine other 20-to-50-year-old seventh grade teachers crowded behind her. She has just opened a document attached to an email for the first time… but now comes the hard part.
“So, what do you do if you want your colleague to see that photo as well?” Glenn Jones, general manager of the Malealea Lodge and an MDT Trustee, asks.
She struggles to remember the word. It’s Khotso Au who reminds her – it’s time to forward the email.
She has done this before. The entire class has, in fact, but it has been a week since they were last able to touch a laptop, and until six months ago they had never even seen one up close before. Khotso, the pioneer of the MDT’s computer training program, believes the teachers will benefit greatly from learning the basics of computing, but it requires patience and practice.
Watching the adult class’s struggles with recall underscores the importance of the other branch of Khotso’s program – training young students. Khotso walks the MDT’s seven donated Chromebooks to five different schools, once per week. At each school he breaks the classes into groups of two-to-five students per laptop, and guides them through the innerworkings of Gmail, Google Docs, Sheets, and Presentations. They practice browsing the internet and are amazed by the information so readily available at their fingertips. With enough exposure, kids thrive with computers. They are comfortable clicking around and figuring things out for themselves when they forget an exact procedure.
The MDT will be acquiring 10 new laptops in the coming months which will more than double the amount of hands-on practice time each student will get, but students in the larger classes will still have to share.
The effects of consistent practice time are immense. This is Poloko Kotobe. He absolutely loves computers. He walks himself to the MDT office to visit Khotso on a regular basis, both to express his wish for computer lessons every day, and to get regular practice logging in and browsing.
To wrap up a voluntary lesson Khotso held during a school holiday at the Malealea Community Center, Khotso asked each student to logout, log back in, navigate to Gmail, send their friend an email, and then send a reply. Poloko successfully sent his email a full 10 minutes before the rest of the class was ready. He began helping his fellow classmates so that he could receive a message to which he could reply.
Khotso’s high school had 30 computers and gave intermittent lessons, but he really became comfortable when he took the computer module for his secretarial studies major in college. Today he spends much of his time experimenting on the computer and developing his lessons. He is a comfortable and commanding presence with his students.
He believes in the empowering impact of computer literacy in today’s world. He wants to teach his students the skills they need to be innovative entrepreneurs and lead Malealea into the future.
It all begins with forwarding an attachment. It all begins with the sharing of ideas.
- Students must share laptops during lessons. The MDT is looking to acquire more laptops and safe storage equipment for them so that each student can maximize their time working with the computer. The more time they have, the more proficient they can become.
- Internet access is scarce in Malealea. The MDT has to purchase airtime by the megabyte. Any donations of funds could help us with this cost necessary to providing the lessons.