Distance Learning summary, May 24

Five weeks ago, on April 19, the MMAO Ambassadors held our regular weekly Skype call. And in that call we initiated a distance learning program, starting with a web page and experiments with Google Drive and WhatsApp. We initiated a fund raising campaign for which we received an overwhelming, positive response —thank you. With those funds we were able to support four MMAO Ambassadors, enabling them to focus on reaching their students through an evolving Distance Learning program.

It has been three weeks since our last update, a summary from Elineema, Eliatosha, and Zacharia provided in the following (as with previous posts, the use of [brackets] denotes minor edits for clarity).

Dear colleagues,

Through distance leaning my students have been sending their feedback of the homework through WhatsApp as many of them have failed to submit through the website. So what they did was copy questions to the papers and solve it, then took pictures of their work and sent it to me. Very few of my students who have knowledge on computers have managed to submit their work through website.

I am still encouraging my students to visit MMAO website and continue with more questions. Others in Chemistry at Ailanga [have sent] photos of their assignments to me so I have forward it to their chemistry teacher. Also I found that some of the Kikatiti students have no internet access. What I have done is printed [home] packages from my office at Makumira and then deliver it to them. Moreover I am still sending more questions to my students from Kikatiti and Makumira. Those who are receiving my packages are responding positively. Later on I will share with everyone the reactions of my students on distance learning program.

The challenge I have faced is that many students from Kikatiti and Makumira are not responding. This gives me room to think, What may be the problem? This is when I printed home packages for them instead. Next, I will [post] new subjects to the MMAO website because not all subjects assignments have yet been sent.

Regards,
ELINEEMA

  

Dear Kai and Mponda,

It’s my pleasure that you’re all okay and well proceedings with your daily activities, I am also fine and well, proceeding with our distance learning very carefully during this COVID-19 situation. Also I am happy to informe you that I managed to send a few home packages to parents who have WhatsApp so that they can download and print for their students. For sure parents and their students are very happy for that. Every day they are calling asking for more work for their students. According to them, they have finished the works and are asking for more.

Furthermore for those parents who have no smart phones I managed to print a few copies and left them at a nearby stationary [a store where office supplies are sold] where they managed to pick them for there children. Therefore, according to my list, I managed to print and send the package to 70 students. I was waiting [to learn] if we could have extra [financial] support , I could manage to reach all students and a plan to share with my staff members so that we can prepare a big package that will consist of all seven [principal] subjects. Therefore I have managed to [send] feedback to the parents and students while at this moment I am still marking some [remaining] homework.

Finally, I just want to share with you that many parents are sending and calling me every day here. I receive more more calls demanding for more packages while others express their happiness for the assistance they received from MMAO and the [financial] donors within this hardship of COVID-19.

Thank you all who managed to make this happened in Tanzania, from all parents and students too.

Many thanks,
Maleko Eliatosha.

  

Dear all,

The distance learning program has been a great opportunity and experience for us to learn and adapt to new ways of teaching and learning [away from] the physical classroom for the past two months. On my side, all students received the assignments. I have been constantly receiving feedback from them, for any assistance they need from me through WhatsApp. Sometimes they call me directly which is a good thing [as they are] involved.

The only thing I’m working on is receiving feedback from [the students], where most of them are responding through WhatsApp and few through Google form. The challenges with this is that, some of them are unable to use and make attachments to Google forms but I’m still working with them and instruct them how to use the form.

Also, parents were given instructions by the administration to supervise their kids to conduct their homework where the deadline is 25 of May [with] no need to submit for review ’till opening of the school to avoid COVID-19 transfer through papers.

Then I suggested the use of Google form instead but not yet officially accepted by the administration. This could be the reason for the students not sending [completed homework] through Google form; I can’t force them to do it now because it could be taken as it is contrary to school administration instructions. Otherwise, I am personally very impressed by the way those students I’m in touch are actively working on the assignment at home. Looking forward to prepare another homework assignment!

Sincerely,
Zacharia

Distance Learning update, May 6, 2020

Per the previous posts, the MMAO Distance Learning program has reached all students who have internet at home, in the immediate schools where our Ambassadors teach. We are now working to reach the hundreds of students who do not have access to the internet via smart phone.

As the Tanzania government has closed the schools to reduce infection by COVID19, solicitation of funds from parents is not permitted yet many schools do not have the funds without tuition to pay for printing supplies.

Through our fund raising campaign we are able to supply paper and ink and in some cases, use of a printer where the school does not have one appropriate for the job.

Eliatosha, MMAO Ambassador and teacher at Ilburo Elementary School for the hearing and seeing impaired writes, “Yesterday I was discussing how to prepare and to deliver ‘home packages’ to the students with the Ward education Officer and Headteacher. For sure they were having many many questions such as, How much will a package will be cost? and how this can be done?

“I told them that parents will not be allowed to pay anything as per government rules and laws is concerned. Also we agreed that the package will be disseminated at the Ward office where by all village government and other leaders and Education officer will also be present. Therefore for sure they were very very happy for such big big assistance been given to the students during this hard period, also they promised me many support to make sure that things are moving well by calling parents and to post information as soon as possible.”

Distance Learning update, May 5, 2020

call list Eliatosha writes, “Yesterday I managed to get all [the] numbers [for each parent], and good enough I called them just to ask if they have smart phones. But 90% of parents they don’t have accessibility, they have just normal phones, therefore as per my small research I suggest that it will be good for me to print and photocopy the home package as my school can be a good point where they can come and collect and finally making of there works.

“Yesterday also as per my call to the parents they were very very happy and excited with what we are doing because they say their children were very very idle with nothing to do, and even some parents they were asking me or teacher what then should we do if we don’t have a smart phones? But I just tell them we would look for the best way to reach them all. Thank for you’re concerns to make sure that Tanzanian students are still in school in this hard situation of covid19.”

Distance Learning update, May 4, 2020

We thank everyone who has donated for the continued support of our fundraising campaign. The contributions are very well received, and already put to good use. In our weekly Skype call, the four teachers Elineema, Zacharia, Eliatosha, and Eliona provided updates for each of their schools, as follows:

Elineema contacted 5 schools with the OSEO ‘Distance Learning’ proposal, to invoke a direct, working relationship between MMAO and the respective schools. He received three direct responses from Kikatiti, Ngongongare, Makumira and indirectly (below) two more. Great work!

Zacharia states that at Ailanga, 100% of the teachers have provided a digital Home Package to 100% of the students (more than 300) primarily using WhatsApp groups through the students’ parents. Zacharia is now pushing to use the MMAO system for enhanced learning outcomes.

Eliatosha at Ilburo has contacted the Head Teacher, and is working to receive the full list of all parents’ phone numbers such that he can call each one, to arrange for inclusion of as many of his home-bound student body as possible.

Eliona at Ngongongare has discussed the MMAO Distance Learning program with the Head Teacher. She received the letter from Elineema and will today provided phone numbers for the parents. Eliona has already reached 10 students via WhatsApp and is driving his motorcycle to meet with students who do not have a digital means, to deliver a printed “home package”.

The conclusion of the call is that the next round of funding through this campaign will go toward paper, ink, and printing of home packages, assignments and reading material for home-bound students who do not have internet access.

Zacharia visited another school last week where they have printed home packages and the students returned to the school, entering one by one to receive the packages, each week. We are working to replicate this at each school where students yet remain without continued education.

Distance Learning update, April 27, 2020

Student engaged in MMAO Distance Learning program

This Sunday we held our weekly Skype meeting, a routine maintained since October 2019. In this call we reviewed the status of each MMAO Ambassador’s effort to reach their students.

In all, they have engaged more than 400 students across four schools. Those students from private schools are more likely to have access to cell phones and internet. The public schools serve principally local students who may or may not be reached by means of the internet. Therefore, we are now designing printed “home packages” which can be delivered to the students, of course with precaution taken for COVID-19.

Mponda is working with Zacharia rapidly develop MMAO web pages to host the homework assignments for each of the Ambassadors and their respective schools. Coupled with Google Forms, we have a means to deliver and receive assignments.

Finally, today, $1050 of the funds raised to date were delivered via Western Union and will be distributed tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28. It is our goal to raise at least this amount again, to offer the Ambassadors and their families financial support for the month of May.

Distance Learning update, April 22, 2020

Students learning from home - 20200422

Hi! I’m Zacharia Mjungu, a Teacher from Ailanga and one of the MMAO Ambassadors and a frontier of this unique opportunity of creating a distance learning program initiative.

Thank you! everyone for supporting this initiative through your donations.

I understand this is the hardest moment for everyone around the world. But I’m so happy for what I have been doing together with other MMAO ambassadors who are teachers to help our students for the past one month aft r the school’s lockdown in the country due to COVID-19 Pandemic.

It was not something easy to do it because we didn’t have their contact information and others don’t have phones or computers and those who are living in remote areas where there is no access to the internet. Also, many of us are left without pay especially those who are working on private schools but this was not a barrier to us that we can’t do something to help our students. We decided to use the little resources we have to buy internet bundles and buy some food supplies at least to make life going and where hopping for the best.

Despite the challenges that we face for not having enough supporting resources to sustain ourselves and reach more of our students and teachers but still, we managed to keep momentum and keep few of our students engaged through SMS, WhatsApp and in some cases Skype and emails by providing them homework and online discussions for those who have smartphones or computers and have access to the internet.

We came to the point that, we need to broaden the program to reach as many students and teachers in our schools and beyond. Now we’re working through MMAO website by creating a distance learning page and a Google drive and set standards on how best should be done on giving and receiving feedback more easily from students back to teachers for review, marking and record-keeping and also reaching more students and teachers by keeping them engaged.

Thank you again for your generosity and God bless you!

Distance Learning with MMAO

Mponda, Elineema, Zacharia, and Kai met today for the weekly MMAO Ambassadors team call. The focus of our call today was distance learning, and how best to engage the students at the respective schools there are so many challenges.

Mponda relates that his daughter was given a “holiday education” package by her school before departing a few weeks ago. She has tasks to accomplish, but there is no interaction with other students, and as such is a bit isolated. A combination of the work packages and on-line interactions will be a good balance.

The teachers are without pay since the start of March, and no promise of future pay this quarter. The students are at home. While most Tanzanian’s have cell phones, most are not smart phones. Ailanga is a bit different, with maybe 80% of the students’ parents having smart phones, but almost no one has a computer. And then there is the issue of internet bundles, the cost of being on-line. Most everyone has Gmail in order to use Android, but email is not commonly used for communication and usually goes without response.

Teaching faculty are pressing upon the school management to develop distance learning programs. But as the schools do not have a means to reach the students other than by calling their parents, progress has been slow. Despite no pay and these high barriers, Zacharia at Ailanga and Elineema at Makumira have succeeded in reaching out to many of their respective students.

They have used WhatsApp to reach the handful of students with whom they were already in contact, who in turn reached out to many more. As such, Zacharia now has more than 50 students in a WhatsApp group where he engages them in suggested reading, studies, and homework assignments. When complete, they send cell phone photographs over WhatsApp. So far, this is working but it gets a bit complex as the number of engaged students grows.

In our call we explored various platforms used worldwide for team meetings and distance learning: WhatsApp, Zoom, Slack, and managed web pages. I added new user accounts for Mponda, Elineema, and Zacharia at mmao.space such that they now maintain their own pages where they can post PDFs, images, reading content, and a link for delivering homework.

For their own homework, the Ambassadors are going to explore Slack and build upon the web page foundation we build during our Skype session.

As we refine our systems and methods, we’ll update here, at MMAO.space.

The biggest, brightest super Moon of 2020!

Tonight we can enjoy the biggest, brightest super-moon of 2020!

An introduction the event is provided at EarthSky

Full moons at apogee, or farthest from Earth (left) and perigee or closest to Earth (right) in 2011. Composite image by EarthSky community member C. B. Devgun in India. Thanks, C. B.! Using the eye alone, it’ll be difficult to notice any size difference in the full moon of April 7-8, 2020. But moon-watchers might notice that this is a very bright full moon! Plus Earth’s oceans will feel an extra pull.

In addition, Dan Heim provides us with a spellbinding timelapse video of the Moon taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Go to How the Moon Changes for this engaging video and Dan’s full explanation.