Coders4Africa (C4A) , in conjunction with our partner Computer Aid International, returned to Taita Taveta University College (also known as the Taita Taveta Campus of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology [JKUAT]) located just outside of Voi town to build upon the training foundation we set during the Mobile Boot Camp we brought to that campus in July. The training involved participants who were in their first three years of IT and/or Maths-related degree, diploma or certification programs at JKUAT...
Registration and Attendance
Registration, as with the previous Voi training, was handled by student government leaders on campus. Unfortunately, the leader who took charge of the last training resigned from office prior to our October boot camp. As such, we noticed a real change in the level of advanced preparation and communication with registrants. This was especially marked on Saturday, October 27 during which sessions suffered from low turnout. We believe this was in large part because no one on campus was acting as a handler for registrants to remind them of their training course and round them up in good time.
We were allocated two computer labs on campus, each with over 30 computers. The location was excellent and we had uninterrupted power all throughout. Internet connectivity was a major problem over the course of the three days but luckily had limited impact on the training sessions. Meals were served in the cafeteria which was just a few minutes’ walk from the labs. The on-campus location was ideal as all of the students live in hostels on campus (which is quite a distance from Voi town).
This training was carried off with a staffing structure involving:
- Training Coordinator (Kristen Houlton) – in charge of all planning, logistics, venue coordination, stationary purchase, coordination with the host university, management of registration list, accommodation/travel plans, administrative support (registration procedures and management, logistics, etc.), photography.
- Technical Coordinator (Joseph Mokaya) – development of course schedule and curriculum, facilitator recruitment and management, coordination with JKUAT on technical issues, design of training flyer, on-site coordination of the training.
- Training Host (mostly handled by Mr. William Nyiariki Dean of Students and Jomo Njenga, Chair of the Department of Maths & Computer Science [in the absence of a strong student government leader – though Gachoka Muthee did some advanced planning and handled the manual registration of participants]) – participant recruitment, assignment and management of university staff tasks associated with the training, coordination with university management, troubleshooting (technically, human resource-related, and otherwise), coordination with JKUAT on all local logistics for the travelers (accommodation/meals).
- C4A Travelling Group – 12 C4A members facilitated all blocks of Android, J2ME, Windows Phone 7, SMS/USSD, PHP and Python and also acted as support/troubleshooters in both sessions.
- Adams Opiyo – Android
- Robert Gichohi – Android
- Steve Kinyanjui – J2ME
- Alice Wambui – J2ME
- Jackson Kariuki – SMS/USSD
- Peris Kuria – SMS/USSD
- Anne Mukundi – PHP
- Salome Chipchumba – PHP
- Mutono Nyamai – Windows Phone 7
- Rose Kwamboka – Windows Phone 7
- Bwatuti Elisha – Python
- Esther Kanini – Python
This staffing structure was very successful. We really did need a lot of student support in order to teach new coding languages & platforms to learners of varying technical backgrounds, so having two facilitators per language with the rest as support personnel really worked well.
Weekend Schedule Overview and Course Content
I traveled as Training Coordinator with a total of 13 coder-members of the Kenya Chapter of Coders4Africa, 12 facilitators (two per framework we taught) plus the Technical Manager Joseph Mokaya. We traveled during the day of Wednesday 24 October by Coast Bus. This Boot Camp allowed students to self-select learning up to three coding languages and frameworks (two training tracks per day), as follows: 25 October - Day 1: Advanced J2ME (20 students), Advanced Android (20 students) **these sessions will be geared toward the participants of our previous Boot Camp** 26 October - Day 2: SMS/USSD (20 students), PHP (20 students) 27 October - Day 3: Windows Phone 7 (20 students), Python (20 students) Content for J2ME and Android was based on that devised during the last boot camp, content for Windows Phone 7 came in large part from curricula given to us by Microsoft, and other session content was developed by the facilitators from other sources. Content was delivered with a mix of PowerPoint presentations and lecture supported by roving facilitators who supported students one-on-one throughout the sessions.
We ran the Boot Camp from 8:00a.m. until 5:00p.m. (with one lunch break) daily. We, the 14 travelers, returned from Voi to Nairobi during a day bus on Coast Bus lines on Sunday, October 28, 2012.
We We will be awarding soft-copy Certificates of Achievement to all course participants who take an online exam through the C4A-developed OES (online examination system). As of the writing of this report, the OES still had a couple of technical bugs to be worked out before it is fully operational. Once it goes live, we will contact all participants through university administration and they will have one week to take the exam. At that point I will begin processing the certificates based on six certificate templates that are currently in development by the traveling coders.
We will not award Certificates of Participation, but only certify participants who actually can provide they have acquired skill.
Impact on Institutional Partnership with Host University
Taita Taveta University College continues to desire a Memorandum of Understanding with Coders4Africa. The best news out of this event is that a real-world project is likely to result for the coders. Taita Taveta University College has approached our team to coordinate with the students on their campus who succeed in our training course on PHP to build an online registration system for the college. The traveling team is putting together a proposal to Taita Taveta University College outlining the project and budget required. I will then edit this proposal and then it will be sent to the college for approval and action. We are all very excited as this will give more experience to the coders in developing using the platforms and languages we teach, a marketable component to their CVs, and will also greatly help the college.
See more pictures here.
Written by: Kristen Houlton, Training Coordinator, 5 November 2012