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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Education-Innovation In ICT -No Student Left Behind – A Reality by 2015?

Education-Innovation In ICT -No Student Left Behind – A Reality by 2015?

ICT use in education is at a particularly dynamic stage in Africa, which means that there are new developments and announcements happening on a daily basis somewhere on the continent. Our teams have worked to identify the challenges & constraints faced by African countries with a growing commitment to ICT in education.
Interest in Shared resource computing is growing rapidly in Africa, however a lack of skilled personnel to support such deployments & applications has been a constraint. We have built teams whose core strengths are the implementation & support of shared resource computing solutions.
We know there are huge gaps between urban and rural areas in terms of access to ICT infrastructure. Access to a reliable supply of electricity is a general problem in some countries, but is particularly sever in rural areas because of difficulty of connecting to the national electrical grids. As well there is a lack of capacity to provide ICT training & equipment servicing.
Given that in some African countries, the cost of a generic PC is equivalent to a teacher’s salary for 8-10 months, cost effective solutions are key for administrators to meet the expectations to provide students with ICT access. Faced with budget contraints & limited access to IT support staff, there is a need to get the maximum value from ICT investments.

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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

SHARED RESOUCE COMPUTING/SOLAR INCREASING AUTOMATION IN EDUCATION: EMERGING MARKETS

SHARED RESOUCE COMPUTING/SOLAR INCREASING AUTOMATION IN EDUCATION: EMERGING MARKETS

With a fresh vision and mission our shared resource computing solutions have provision and vibrancy which are thought well “outside the box” to provide innovative solutions for clients taht include private sector and government. With a focus on Shared resource Computing solutions & solar technology, we have provided affordable and flexible ICT solutions which truly meet the needs of our target market, especially the 80% of people who reside in Emerging Markets and live in urban areas.

We have now partnered with project implementors in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique & Tanzania to provide local support & insights. With many exciting projects underway which utilize shared resource computing & solar energy, we can provide a custom solution for organizations. Our solutions are a “must have” for Internet Cafes, Schools, Training centers, Libraries or companies looking to reduce their IT footprint while increasing automation access.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

WHY SHARED RESOURCE COMPUTING:REDUCTION OF IMPLEMENTATION COSTS IN ICT 4 EDUCATION PROJECTS:

WHY SHARED RESOURCE COMPUTING:REDUCTION OF  IMPLEMENTATION COSTS IN ICT 4 EDUCATION PROJECTS:


School Adminstrators are always looking for ways to reduce their IT costs and increase accessibility, flexibility and agility — but that combination rarely comes together at the same time.

The development and the proliferation of virtual client solutions provide a notable exception, however, because the technology can give businesses, government organizations, and educational institutions a cheaper yet more flexible solution for their client devices. Virtual client solutions leverage the horsepower of centralized computing resources (both servers and PCs) to provide access to a traditional desktop computing experience for end users, but in a less expensive and more controlled manner. The combination of low-cost, energy-efficient access devices and
software that creates, delivers, and lets IT centrally manage virtual user sessions is a powerful package that can transform the way companies use and think about their end-user client computing services.

Desktop PCs may not be the sexiest technology devices, but they are unquestionably the workhorses of most institutions and continue to make up a large majority of the commercial client installed base. As a result, when organizations start to think about trying to rein in their costs or improve their overall environment, desktop PCs often are the first target.
Lately, desktop discussions have become more complicated because of the introduction of desktop virtualization technologies, which are designed to provide end users with an experience that’s roughly equivalent to a regular PC in terms of performance but offer significant cost advantages in terms of initial purchase, ongoing support costs, and management control.
The basic concept behind virtualization involves reassigning different parts of the computing process to different elements in a networked environment. Specifically, instead of having all of a PC’s software, including both the operating system (OS) and applications, reside on a hard drive in the PC and then having all the program execution occur using the CPU inside that PC, virtualization moves much of the storage and program execution to a server or other centralized computing resource.
As a result, the client access device functions much like a terminal accessing a centralized mainframe. But unlike the old command line–driven mainframe applications of the past, in this virtualized environment, end users can work in a familiar Windows operating system environment complete with normal Windows and multimedia applications. So, end users have an experience that’s akin to using a regular, standalone PC, but IT departments can enjoy a number of important benefits,
including:
􀁠Centralized storage. With all data stored in a central location, backups are easier and more robust network storage devices can be used.
􀁠Centralized management. IT departments can easily ensure that all the latest operating system security patches and application versions are being used by all end users and are in compliance with their license agreements.
􀁠Enhanced security. By managing and storing all the organization’s critical applications and data in a central location, IT departments can limit access to the data infrastructure, creating a more secure environment.
􀁠Reduced client support costs. By controlling what end users can install and run on their client devices, IT departments can avoid issues with rogue software and other end user–generated issues.
􀁠More efficient use of resources. By moving computing tasks to centralized servers, IT departments can eliminate wasted compute resources at client desktops, saving hardware, maintenance, and energy costs.
Creating an environment that leverages virtualization typically requires setting up (or leveraging existing) centralized computing resources (typically servers, but in some instances it’s possible to use regular PCs), installing and configuring the necessary software on the centralized resources, creating accounts for each user, and then
setting up access devices at each end user’s working environment. Conceptually, it isn’t far removed from traditional networked PC applications — the critical differences are the software used on the centralized computing resources and the end-user devices. One of the other benefits of creating the environment necessary to enable
virtual clients is that many of the same steps are necessary to enable cloud-based computing solutions. In fact, thin clients and virtual clients are a perfect match for companies looking to move to cloud computing.
Regardless of the type of hardware used as the centralized computing resource, a server or other multiuser operating system is installed first, and then additional software is used to create and manage each of the end-user sessions. The end-user device logs into an account that gets associated with its own session and then is presented with a typical desktop environment, complete with applications and data. In
most instances, the actual execution of applications occurs on the centralized computing resources, and the visual results are transferred over a network or other connection to the end-user device and onto its attached display. Different protocols are used both to send this visual data back to the end-user device and to relay
keyboard and mouse input and the data generated by or needed by any peripherals attached to the end-user device (e.g., printers, smart card readers) back to the centralized user session.
The real “magic” of the system derives from the software used on the centralized computing resources to enable and manage the various user sessions. The manner in which this software utilizes the hardware resources (that is, “virtualizes” the hardware) and the different levels of capability enabled by this software determine the effectiveness (and strongly influence the cost) of the overall solution.
Traditional centralized client environments virtualize applications that are accessed from either traditional PCs or thin clients that still have a local operating system and CPU that must be managed. Many organizations have deployed these kinds of solutions to centrally manage a select set of applications — often important applications that IT wants/needs to closely monitor. While these types of solutions provide reasonable cost benefits by improving application management, they can be limited by the fact that certain applications, particularly critical custom corporate applications, won’t run in shared environments. In addition, these “traditional” deployments still rely on PCs or thin clients that have their own management requirements. Newer virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions solve the application compatibility problem of older applications by running them in separate independent instances of end-user operating systems, each of which runs as a virtual machine on a server. While this type of solution does offer benefits versus the “traditional” thin client model, it adds to the cost of the entire solution by requiring expensive license fees for each unique OS instance and reducing the client-to-server
ratio to numbers that are often less than 30:1, even on a high-end server. Plus, most VDI approaches still rely on full PCs or thin clients at the user’s desktop that must be managed.
One of the newer options for centralized computing models takes the concept even further — the entire computing experience occurs on the host server device, and very simple devices referred to as “zero clients” are placed on individual users’ desks.
These zero clients have no traditional CPU or memory — often they have just a monitor, mouse, keyboard, speaker, microphone, and USB connection — and just enough firmware to point the device to a host server, where they connect to one of the individual user sessions being run on the server device. Input data from the zero clients is forwarded along to the host session, and the screen output from the session
is passed backed down to the client and shown on the connected display.
While most of the host software for these newer options is designed to run on serverclass hardware, several solutions, including Microsoft’s new Windows MultiPoint Server 2010 OS, open up new opportunities by bringing this capability to traditional PCs. These solutions provide for multiple licensed user sessions on a single PC, leveraging the significant horsepower found in today’s desktop CPUs that would otherwise be underutilized.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

THE GAMECHANGER:SHARED RESOURCE COMPUTING IN KENYA/AFRICA & EMEA

THE GAMECHANGER:SHARED RESOURCE COMPUTING IN KENYA/AFRICA & EMEA

It’s one thing to mandate schools to increase computer access; it’s quite
another to carry it out efficiently and cost-effectively. Schools immediately
began evaluating their budgets and technologies that might help them
achieve their goal. For many, the up-front purchase price was is not their only
concern. One educator explained: “When we were using a standard desktop
PC at every station, we had lots of maintenance issues. So much so that we
had to contract a separate company to support and maintain them. This
became very costly.”

While limited funds is a primary concern, there were two additional
challenges in choosing a computing solution for the classrooms—reducing
the computer’s space requirement and lowering maintenance costs.

Beyond the cost and maintenance improvements, the schools in EMEA and Africa have noticed another key benefit of ThinGlobal virtual desktops—happier students. A primary school in Africa used to have old desktop PCs that were slow, constantly breaking down, and could not run the latest application software. The school installed the PCI-series Cards on two new PCs. The result was a modern fourteen-seat computer lab with the latest software and functionality.

A teacher reports that, “The children now enjoy and look forward to doing
their work in the computer lab. Before it was very slow and we were limited
in the programs we could use.”
Schools that purchase the ThinGlobal solution get an added benefit:
they can put their savings to better use and have diverted money meant to buy PCs to other core ventures and also used their savings to replace bulky, energy-consuming CRT monitors with new LCD flat panels. This increased desk space and lowered total cost of ownership and electrical cos

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

CONNECTASCHOOL INTIATIVE:WHY CONNECT KENYA/AFRICA SCHOOLS

Many countries are realizing the importance of connecting their educational institutions to the Internet. Connectivity provides many benefits including access to an ever-growing volume of educational information, opportunities for collaboration and the use of on-line applications. In addition, it is important for students, as well as teachers, to learn information and communication technology skills to enable them to participate in the evolving knowledge society. School connectivity also helps enhance educational administration through the electronic exchange of forms, data and other information. It also achieves cost efficiencies by automating manual tasks and reducing expenses associated with textbook printing and distribution. The benefits are particularly attractive for remote schools where Internet access provides the vehicle for online learning and access to educational content.

The policies that enable schools to benefit from broadband connectivity can also be leveraged as vehicles to provide connectivity to marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities, the elderly, the unemployed, minorities and indigenous peoples. This module can thus also serve as a tool for considering the ways in which access to broadband can benefit groups with special needs.
In Emerging Markets and World-wide extending broadband connectivity to schools enables educators to take advantage of new and emerging content and tools that update and enrich curricula while providing individual instructors with tools that can facilitate and expand collaboration with colleagues both near and far.
For several decades, radio and television have been used to augment education in classroom settings, and to connect rural students to educational opportunities. Today, the power of computers and the availability of broadband connections enable a greater expansion of the types of content available, allowing higher levels of interactivity in educational settings.
Broadband connectivity allows students and teachers access to current online research and instructional materials that can include images, audio recordings, and videos. These materials augment and complement more traditional oral instruction and written materials. Combined with tools that allow for collaboration among students and teachers, broadband-enabled educational tools have the potential to be a “disruptive” but positive force in educational programs around the world, enabling the creation of more effective and engaging educational models.
When broadband service replaces a slower Internet connection, such as dial-up service, students and educators gain improved access to existing resources and materials that previously may have been too time-intensive to download — or were simply unavailable without the bandwidth provided by broadband connectivity.
Broadband connectivity also provides new opportunities and additional value to coursework designed to train people to use ICTs. This transforms isolated personal computers (PCs) or computer labs into tools for accessing information from around the world.
Despite significant differences in levels of development and educational programs around the world, broadband-enabled educational tools can be incorporated into curricula across all socioeconomic levels. Specific areas of focus can be customized to suit the needs of each community.

There is also evidence that the use of broadband connectivity as an educational tool for children acts as a motivating force for parents to obtain broadband service at home.3 Increased demand then attracts interest from governments and other organizations that may want to fund broadband deployment. Growing demand also helps commercial network operators that otherwise might be hesitant to offer services without a reasonable business case built on sustainable demand levels.
In addition to serving educational needs, broadband-connected schools can serve as ICT centers for their surrounding populations. In areas where low income, lack of infrastructure or other factors may present barriers to widespread broadband connectivity, policymakers can focus on using key public institutions — including schools — as ICT centers that offer access, training, and support services.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Delivering Low Cost Computing to Kenya School and Institutions

Delivering Low Cost Computing to Kenya School and Institutions

Providing computers and Internet access to Kenya’s 5,000 schools and over 4 million students is a challenge. In addition to the familiar issue of acquiring computers with limited educational budgets, schools in Kenya. Africa have additional infrastructure challenges, including a lack of skilled technical personnel, the need for increased protection from theft, and classroom electrical upgrades to support networks of computers.
With hardware from ThinGlogabal .We are looking into offering schools in Kenya and Africa a viable classroom computing solution. As a result, schools our key objective in our pilot is for provision of up to seven students with a full desktop experience (monitor, mouse, and keyboard) for each computer.The schools have fewer systems to buy and maintain, reduced power requirements, and the systems can be securely stored in a server room.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Challenges and opportunities in ICT educational development in Africa-Kenya.

Challenges and opportunities in ICT educational development in Africa-Kenya.

The ubiquitous term “digital divide” is used to describe a wide range of disparate outcomes demonstrating a gap in technology resources, information, and education. Perhaps nowhere is this divide more apparent, or more discussed, than in sub-Saharan Africa.
Policy makers in Africa and elsewhere have put forth technology, technical competence, and computer and information literacy as solutions for many of these problems. Indeed, ICT solutions may help to solve problems related to education such as teacher shortages, low achievement, high drop-out rates, lack of opportunity, and lack of materials (Wims & Lawler 2007). In response to these opportunities, organizations from around the world have implemented projects across the spectrum of ICT delivery. Prevalent among these are organizations which are somewhat new to international development, that are relatively small, and that do not originate in Africa.
Despite the best of intentions, many of these projects ultimately fail. There are many reasons for this: technology may not be the appropriate solution in the first place, projects may be poorly implemented, equipment may be improperly used, there may be a lack of follow-up, stakeholders may not receive adequate training to support the program, or it may simply be difficult to create and sustain a project within a shifting social and political context. New, small, and/or foreign organizations face specific challenges in the delivery of ICT solutions for education.

Globalization and the changing world economy are driving a transition to knowledge-based economies. In particular, developing countries need knowledge-based economies not only to build more efficient domestic economies, but to take advantage of economic opportunities outside their own borders. In the social sphere, the knowledge society brings greater access to information and new forms of social interaction and cultural expression. Individuals therefore have more opportunities to participate in and influence the development of their societies.

THE CHALLENGES THAT FACE IMPLEMENTATIONS AND SOLUTIONS:

STEP1: Develop a local presence, build local networks, and develop local leadership.

Be able to become viable and successful by basing operations in the local environment, by developing relationships with local stakeholders, and by ultimately having local leaders in charge of the implementation of the projects.

STEP 2: Communication, communication, communication.

Communication, in any organization, can make great ideas into great successes, or can turn great ideas into failures. Operating across international and cultural boundaries amplifies this. Conscious and deliberate attempts to streamline and clarify communication are key.

STEP 3: Cultural competence is obligatory.

The very notion of “streamlining” and “clarifying” communication may be not be easy cultural interpretation of events in Africa. Every phase of operations, from business communications to informal meetings, is governed by the cultural context. Building competence in the local culture is likely the only way to improve this. Of course, there will be missteps and misunderstandings, which should be addressed and corrected as they arise rather than ignored.

STEP 4: Local stakeholders, and the context they are in, are the ultimate judges of success and/or failure.

You will experience a context in which selected solutions (e.g., Linux operating system) are ultimately not viable, and you have to proactively change strategies. Other organizations will face similar barriers to ideas which do not match a changing local context, and must realize that cutting short-term losses in pursuit of ultimate success and longevity of the organization may be necessary.

STEP 5: Evaluation, evaluation, evaluation.

Even organizations which are well-intentioned and understand their stakeholders well can not be sure that projects are having the impact which they assume. This is true of any organization, but is especially true of small organizations in challenging development environments. Proactive Organisations are able to respond to barriers such as those described, in large part, due to formative and summative evaluation measures at all steps of the process.
STEP 6 : Build local skills and local ownership.

For long-term sustainability, these components are vital, this means not only developing
the skills of computer usage, but of troubleshooting problems, and doing so as a community cluster of concerned stakeholders. Other organizations will have different challenges, but the sustainability of efforts, with the eventual goal of limited or no organizational support, must be a component of a successful effort.

STEP 7: Sustain the organization as well as the projects.

Although the stakeholder-driven projects are how an organization demonstrates success and are most often the place where real passion and attention are aimed, the well-being of the organization as a whole must not be neglected. Funding, staffing, and logistical needs of the organization are not sufficient for success, but are certainly necessary.

STEP 8: Do no harm.

The development version of the Hippocratic Oath would be to remain diligent in looking for unintended consequences. Though these may be positive effects in some cases, they are often negative.One inevitable consequence is the eventual disposal of hundreds or thousands of computers in a context not equipped to handle the safety and environmental implications hence the need to adapt to viable technologies which include shared resource computing. All projects will have unintended consequences and organizations must take precautions to minimize negative impacts.

STEP 9: Engage other development efforts.

Most project implemntors s face an energy crisis. Therefore, they have found
themselves tangentially in the field of energy development, researching solar and other solutions,as well as forming partnerships in these areas. The broader lesson is that development efforts do not exist in a vacuum. Education and ICT projects are vital components of a broader holistic development agenda that must include not only power but public health, environment, infrastructure, etc. A synergistic effort among these development sectors is likely to have an amplifying effect, above and beyond the sum of the parts.

All lessons learned the need to adopt viable solutions that are sustainable and achieve set goals will encourage donors ans technology adaptors on the need to facilitate more projects as current in the vibrant Kenya ICT education sector.

Shared resource computing implementor Sight and Sound Ltd are currently working with on various education projects and will work with other organizations that require advise and implementations of our solutions in Africa,partnering with Brazils’ Thinnetworks who currently boast of the Largest Shared resource computing in the World with 500,000 seats on a single project -2011.

For more info contact: erickadhola@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2011 in Uncategorized