Kusasa Project- An idea ahead of its time

Shuttleworth Foundation announced that they had stopped the Kusasa project due to among other reasons, the need to develop material to teach the children how to use the learning tools Kusasa sought to provide.  Another reason was the need for teachers to develop confidence in the tools provided by Kusasa.

 

Background

 

Kusasa was a project of the Shuttleworth Foundation which sought to provide resources for students and teachers to ‘build analytical thinking skills through self and peer taught software development.’  This would be through Squeak and Python programming environments.  This would be e-learning done through LAN environments or even mobile phone downloads.

 

 

Indeed the project was revolutionary, in that it sought to move away from traditional educational practice and introduce a definitely more fun way to learn. Kusasa in my view represents the way children should be taught i.e. giving the children a chance to let their imagination wander and through this.  At this point in their lives, children are at their most curious and encountering technology will stimulate their thinking.  I do not know for you but if I had gotten a chance to learn biology in a more interactive way, maybe I’d have done better in it.

 

The resources utilized are in themselves part of what let the project down, Helen King from the foundation talked of the aforementioned reasons for pulling the plug on the project, both refer to the resources. The teachers had confidence issues with the materials while the children would have to be taught how to use the tools which in fact would be too costly and unsustainable.

 

This is not to say that the project itself is a failure or would fail.  My take is that is more support is injected into the projects some headway would be made.  This support may be in:

  • Collaborations: – Where you have others developing the resources, while others develop teaching aids to help children get attuned to the resources faster. 

If you have an advance group to prepare material for the teachers to intro. the tools to the children, you would be home and dry, because what you need is just a basic understanding the more will learnt you go along.

  • Institutional Support: – The project would do well with support from the teaching institution because then it is easier for you to take off.  In USA, online curriculum providers are increasing taking a larger share of federal education budgets.

 

It is noteworthy that online curricula and technology based teaching aids are fast replacing traditional classes in the more technologically advanced USA and Canada.  In fact the whole learning process has been said the have been more enjoyable and productive in place where this has been introduced, these are sentiments of both teachers and students.

 

I wonder if it is a case of the idea being ahead of its time.

 

The Kusasa Project tried to pioneer this in Africa and it would be sad if something doesn’t rise from it.s ashes

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