We’ve recently had discussions between National College of Ireland and Camara. The Camara process involves collecting donated computers, testing and repairing them, loading software, shipping the the packages to Africa, setting up school or community technology centers, and training local residents. It also includes developing multimedia presentations and educational software, databases, networking, and a variety of software applications and system components.
It turns out that enacting these processes addresses the learning objectives of the third-year work experience requirement, as well as major parts of courses in hardware, multimedia, networks, management technology, marketing, and other areas. Many students and staff are interested as volunteers as well.
At the same time, having National College of Ireland students involved meets special needs of Camara in terms of certain skills, especially hardware. College students could help with the pile of computers now waiting patiently for treatment in the Camara Computer Hospital. Some students will participate through coursework, which should help in terms of consistency of participation.
This is an excellent example of the principle: The community is the curriculum. When learning grows out of concrete lived experience, learning activities start out being integrated. When it derives from real community needs those activities are automatically purposeful. They highlight independent and critical thinking, responsibility, communication, collaboration, and problem solving, not because someone decided these should be taught, but because these are needed to achieve a common purpose. All of the participants, including whether in the College, the Camara facility, or a village in Africa, become both learners and contributors.
Second photo courtesy of the Camara Flickr site.