Monday, April 30, 2007

Firefox, FlashGot and DxDownloadFast

For those of us who are not blessed with broadband(high speed internet connections), Mozilla Firefox should be the browser of choice. Recently, I had to download a file that was about 120MB and every time I reached somewhere between 10-90% of the download, my connection would reset and I would be forced to restart the download again. This is a waste of the rare resource so I started looking for a solution. This is what I used as my solution.

1. Downloaded a Firefox Extension called FlashGot (for managing downloads)

2. Downloaded an Open Source Download Manager called dxDownloadFast ( Installed it and restarted my Firefox.

The next time I go to the download page of the document I was downloading, I right-clicked on it and selected FlashGot the download with wxDownloadFast! This saved me time, bandwidth and a great deal of the frustrations I have been going through.

Please use it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Where is my Overhead projector?

I engaged with a friend today and he was lamenting about the speed at which the technology is moving. I could see the agony in his face when he told me that he was scheduled to do a presentation in a hall, and the only thing in that lecture hall as a visual aid is a computer and a projector. The old-fashioned overhead projectors have been replaced by these new technologies. The pain of having to redo his presentation, and scanning his images so that they can be used on the computer was profound. I asked him whether he has considered attending any of training sessions:
Most of us have a phobia for technology and most of the jargon used in the training leaves us more confused than we were before training. I know of a number of professors in my department who have the same feelings about the technology and they cannot attend training.
I asked him, is this reasons that some lecturers never use the technology in the lecture theatres? He said:
Yes, and more to that there is a cultural bearing. They should have involved an anthropologist to study the culture of the prospective users of the technology so that they can advice them about what need to change first [in terms of culture] for the technology to be successfully used.
Here I see a problem where the technology is being provided but the constituency that should benefit from it is not. I am not sure of the best approach to dealing with technophobia, especially in situations where the individuals [with the phobia] have all the resources and support and training but they cannot still use the resources available. If you have a clue, feel free to let me know.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

eLearning in Zambia Universities

A while ago, I wrote about eLearning in Kenya Universities. Today, I move down south from Kenya to Zambia. Higher Education in Zambia, like indeed the rest of the developing world, is also under pressure to integrate new technologies while its still operating in an environment where telecommunication is poor, infrastructure is inadequate and there limited or no funds to invest in expensive new technology. This is a fact that an initiative under the banner "eLearning in Zambia" has well identified:
As Zambia is increasingly becoming cash-strapped to support establishment and maintenance of physical educational institutions, VIRTUAL LEARNING may be the answer.
Whether this will be the answer, there still needs a lot of action, (and maybe money and time). This is more so because a search for eLearning and related terms in the website of the University of Zambia give no results. A google search for "Online Learning" at the Copperbelt Unversity shows there is online learning offered under the Center for Lifelong Education. For the more than a dozen times I tried to access the site, it timed out, evidence of the limitations we are working with in this part of Africa.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Call to Action: From Promise to Practice

There seem to be a unanimous agreement that the technology for teaching and learning, popularly known as eLearning, has great promises and potential. Unlike the promises that are made by an individual to a recipient, the promise needs action from the recipient. Therefore, for us to achieve and realise these hyped promises and potential, we need to act.
In action, the first step, or a dream is very crucial. I came across a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too....
...Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.
For use to realise the eLearning promise, especially in Africa, we need to begin earnestly and boldly believing that after the first step, after the first initiative, better opportunities will come our way and we will live the eLearning dream.