Submitted by Janet Thomson
preparation for online participation in the CCTI, the Commonwealth of Learning
(COL) engaged SchoolNet South Africa (SNSA) to conduct an orientation workshop
for approximately 100 participants in Kampala, Uganda, on October 24, 2014.
engaged Gerald Roos and Senzo Ngcobo to travel to Kampala and facilitate the
workshop. The Ministry of Education and Sport of Uganda (MoES) appointed
Harriet Kagezi to coordinate the programme in Uganda. She was assisted by
Gilbert Engorot. 100 names were submitted 54 of which were not accompanied by
email addresses. Kumari in the SchoolNet SA office then phoned the individual
Ugandan school contact persons and acquired the missing data.
was hosted by the Shimoni Core Primary Teachers College near Kitari, 38 km from
facilitators travelled to the venue on 23 October to establish whether the
facilities had been prepared as per separate contract between Shimoni PTC and
CoL. SchoolNet’s request had been for there to be at least 34 operational
computers with Internet access as this was orientation to an online course. So
they were very disappointed to find that the College had 8 functional
computers, of which only 4 were connected to the Internet. The venue was also
not large enough to house 100 persons. Under the circumstances and after
discussion with the MoES and College representatives the decision was taken that
the workshop should be moved to a multi-purpose hall and that time would be
allowed for participants to access the Internet for the most basic purpose,
logging in and joining their groups.
morning of the workshop 101 participants registered and a number of other
delegates attended the workshop. These included the principal of Shimoni PTC
who welcomed the participants on behalf of the Principal Secretary and then
other Ministry of Education and Sport delegates. In addition to these registered
participants, four MoES representatives requested to be able to fully
participate in the course. There are therefore 105 participants registered and
SchoolNet has four tutors ready to manage their online participation.
After the welcoming messages the workshop
began and was based around the workshop presentation (Appendix A). The
projection screen space was inadequate in size, being restricted by bordering
windows and considering the width of the arranged chairs and distance from the
It must therefore be stated that in addition
to the expected communication difficulties of the presenters’ South African
accents, there was a real challenge in the way that the media could support the
presenters, and as a result a large question mark about the effectiveness of
the presentation in achieving the original objectives.
In the session before lunch the participants met in their
five groups and discussed what it would take for them to be successful in this
course. Their discussion was serious and lengthy which was encouraging to see.
Their feedback was captured on the presentation screen. The participants
identified the need to plan their time, to be supported by their schools and
the MoEs, to communicate and support each other within and between schools. They
suggested creating social media support groups (which they were to discover was
already catered for in the learning management system). They recognized the
need to show commitment and be accountable to their group colleagues.
After lunch the participants with laptops were asked to
connect to the Wi-Fi network that was set up by the MoE’s technician, Gilbert
Engorot. As a result approximately 25 connection points were made available and
although the connection was relatively slow, all participants had the
opportunity to log in to www.cctionline.org and join their groups. This was not 100%
successful because it later transpired that 20 participants had not succeeded
in joining groups, but at least the participants were able to have a small
amount of hands-on exposure to the LMS.
The lack of all-day connectivity for 100 participants was a
serious constraint. Despite the positive attitude of the participants and their
willingness to commit to the programme, it was already becoming clear that the
startup momentum required from such an orientation workshop was lacking.
The workshop concluded with the completion of a workshop
evaluation/commitment form. 96 out of 100 forms were returned and each was
signed to indicate commitment to the programme.