May all your wishes come true

February 14th, 2019

That is what I wrote at the start of the new year as a season’s greeting to many people. And, guess what? The year has really started well for our company, and some wishes have already come true!

Jan Willem and I were both local councillors in the Netherlands. When we came to Rwanda in 2015, one of our dreams was to build e-courses for local government. We talked to the Rwandan Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA) a few times, but projects did not materialise. Now, at the start of 2019, we have signed a contract to make an e-course for them about Rwanda’s Sustainable Development Goals.

With this, another dream has come true. So far, we have been using Easygenerator as our main authoring tool to make e-learning materials. The RALGA course requires us to work with Open edX, a tool used for creating Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MIT and Harvard University created the tool in 2012 as an open source platform. It’s really interesting to work with. Starting out was a nightmare, it’s nowhere near as user-friendly as Easygenerator, and the fact that it’s an open source platform requires you to develop programming skills to make the course. However, new software is always a challenge so maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh. Open edX also has some new features that we’ve never used before, and hopefully we will enjoy those.

New staff in 2019

In 2019, we received a new intern, Gretta Flora Irakoze. Now we have two Grettas in our team.  Gretta Flora kindly agreed to be called Flora, to avoid confusion. Flora has started to work with Open edX and she appears to be an amazingly fast learner. Using VideoScribe, also a new tool for us, she made this short promotional video in under two hours!

Two new e-courses: Outreach and Integrated Water Resources Management

Another project on the go is a course about integrated water management for the Ministry of Environment. This course will be presented at a big conference about water on 22nd March 2019, organised by Water for Growth Rwanda (W4GR). So, we have to hurry up making this course. We are now doing field visits to interview people about water. We saw some very interesting examples of rainwater harvesting in Gatsibo and Nyagatare districts, both dry areas.

At the same time, we are working on a course for the SEAD project, which stands for Strengthening Education for Agricultural Development. This course will be for lecturers and students of the University of Rwanda, the Institute of Applied Sciences, and Polytechnics Regional Centres (IPRCs)  on agriculture. The course looks at how to effectively reach out to farmers in order to teach them about new technology, so making this course takes us out into the field. We now know more about the artificial insemination of cows (we saw a very good demonstration), and we have seen all sorts of irrigation schemes. We visited teaching facilities at the University of Rwanda, and IPRCs, to find out how good their internet facilities are and whether they can host an e-course. It will be a first-time experience for most of them, but people are happy to go for it.

Dreams we have not yet realised include the development of course materials relating to governance for civil society organisations, and an e-course about early childhood development for pre-school teachers and parents. But now we know that realising dreams will take four years. So, no worries.

Have a great 2019, and we hope that your wishes come true as ours have!

Gerry van der Hulst