A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about it

Twice in a Lifetime

South Shore Public Libraries team up with NSCC Library and Tech Services in Mikumi 2013

Well my once in a life trip to Africa came true twice! How lucky can one middle-aged woman get. South Shore Public Libraries was re-invited to participate in the bridge-funding phase of NSCC’s “EFE” project in Mikumi, Tanzania. As I reflect on the trip, while sitting in the departure lounge at Pearson waiting for the final flight of a 20 hour commute, a few highlights come to mind.
First and foremost is the people: Ashley Pinsent-Tobin, Kellie McMullin, Leigh Gagnier, Andrea Stewart and Paul Tweed were a fantastic set of professionals to travel and work with and in a land of very welcoming people the staff and students of VETA Mikumi shared their time and resources in a way that made you feel at home after the first “Karibu”.
The second high point was witnessing the success of the “Library in your pocket” tablets. We learned on an earlier trip Wifi and electricity are not necessarily a daily staple in Mikumi. Therefore the tablets were preloaded with apps and texts that could be used without WiFi, with an emphasis on the tourism and hospitality subject area. Watching the staff and students discover the potential of this learning tool was an incredible experience.
Unlocking the server and reintializing the VETA Mikumi intranet was another great success of the project. Can you imagine functioning without an intranet or internet for 6 months? That was the reality at VETA.
Through emails home and bouncing around ideas between Paul, Selamani, Chrisostom and myself we were able to restore the proxy server and allow file sharing, Wordpress and Moodle to function again. The computer lab can now be reimaged, cleaned up and be made ready for when the ISP shows up to restore the internet. This tech team was also able to find a short-term wireless solution that allows up to 8 people at a time to share a WiFi hotspot. News of this connection spread like wild fire and watching the look of delight on Principal Ayo’s face as he checked his Blackberry and sent an email with an attachment on a laptop simultaneously was a heart warming experience.
The time spent in Mikumi has been an incredible learning experience for me both personally and professionally. Working at a Public Library is a great job; libraries are all about promoting literacy and sharing information and that is what we did in Mikumi. My heartfelt thanks to the NSCC team, the faculty and students of VETA Mikumi, and the SSPL Library Board for allowing me the privilege to participate in this amazing learning project. – Asante sana.

Christina Pottie
Outreach Coordinator
South Shore Public Libraries

Posted by NSCC Intl 08:49 Archived in Tanzania Tagged education travel it tanzania international library nova scotia e-resources nexus Comments (0)

Paul's Final Thoughts

NSCC Technical Services in Mikumi 2013

As luck would have it, we had another great success with the network at Mikumi on our last day there. With both Selemani and I working on the Intranet issue of Moodle and Wordpress, we finally did get the server to work and access to both of these programs started once again. It was one of those “high five” moments, and we all celebrated the good news.
As access to these programs had been down since last summer, it was wonderful to see the reaction from Selemani and Chrisostom when I pointed at the screen by the server and said “it’s working again”. From an IT perspective, this was the success that many were hoping for. What better way to end our last day there!
At that point, I stepped back because Selemani and Chrisostom began deliberating their plan to get this access to all the workstations. They knew what had to be done, and started on it right away. We had helped them find a solution and now they were planning to implement it.
It was on this high note that we said our goodbyes and left Mikumi. The learning we shared is something none of us will soon forget, and I truly consider myself fortunate to have been part of this. It was fantastic to see my Tanzanian friends again, and although it seems time went by too quickly, I know we’ll keep in touch. Asante sana my friends.

Paul Tweed
NSCC Technical Services
Waterfront Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 08:48 Archived in Tanzania Tagged education travel it tanzania international internet nova scotia intranet Comments (0)

Making a Connection

NSCC Technical Services at VETA Mikumi 2013

They say there’s a first time for everything. Well, my writing a blog is one of them.
As I sit here in my room at VETA Mikumi thinking about the past week, I’m surrounded by the noises close by; to my left, people talking as they walk in and out of the kitchen area. To my right, sounds of clanging dishes, possibly being washed in a sink. Both in their own way reflect the learning happening around us, and instead of being a distraction from this blog they are actually contributing to it. Amazing.
So, where do I begin?
Being an unseasoned traveller with a measurable dislike of air travel, the opportunity to be part of this team was too great to give up for such a minor reason. Grin and bear it are the words that come to mind. And yes, I am glad I did. The friendship and genuine desire to learn was apparent when I met those who travelled to Canada for CCEDP in 2010 and 2011. It was surprising how quick we became friends. And remembering those people played a part when I was asked to join the trip this year to Tanzania. It would be nice to see them all again.
What have I learned since our adventure began? For one, I now know to expect breakfast, lunch and supper within a 3 to 4 hour span when changing time zones from west to east. Bring plenty of tums. I’ve also learned that my Tanzanian friends haven’t changed at all. They are still the friendly, caring people I remember, all sharing the same appetite to learn.
I’ve also learned much about the computer network here. The work that Dave Arthur and Darlene Redmond did in 2011 can be seen throughout the server room, language lab, ICT lab and what I call the business class lab where they learn Microsoft Office apps. The down side to this is that the Internet Service Provider here stopped providing that service last August so there has been no internet connection for the network here since then.
We did have good network news this week though. One of our wireless solutions began providing wireless access to the internet, and you could almost feel the excitement as people connected their devices to the Net. It’s simply a mobile wifi device that accesses the internet through cellular, and can provide access for up to 8 different devices at a time. Although small, I would consider it mighty. And it’s most certainly a step in the right direction. I understand we will be purchasing another similar device, so it’s possible that one may be used to provide internet access in the Tourist Information Centre, while the other may be used in the Administration Block. We also brought D-Link devices that would provide access much the same however they need compatible wireless sticks (the ones we had weren’t compatible).
I’ve also been in touch with Dave and Darlene through email and they have given me suggestions on how to get some server problems fixed. Access to the Wordpress and Moodle apps which were installed on the server halted in June 2012 so I will attempt to repair them before leaving Tuesday.
It’s difficult to put into words just how so little can have such a huge affect here. From an IT perspective, these simple wireless devices we’ve provided will allow much needed internet access to information that, for the past 6 months, has been unreachable. The new tablets that have been distributed will be able to update wirelessly, and from what I’ve seen, they are a tool that faculty and students here will constantly use to teach and learn.
I can’t close and finish this blog until we leave Tanzania so I will leave it open ended and for the time being will sign off saying “to be continued.......”

Paul Tweed
Technical Services
NSCC, Waterfront Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 03:52 Archived in Tanzania Tagged education it tanzania international nova scotia ict Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]