On the last week of the semester, when most lecturers have already "concluded" their sessions, all students are present for this classes - In itself a great achievement.
Fourth year students come to work together on the data they collected using ODK, a short survey on people's time-(in)consistent preferences. We have a good record of 468 interviews. Danny and John provide their valuable support, and by the end of the session the students know how to use Excel pivot tables and charts to show statistics and trends, and understand the data. They compete for marks, but it is clear that what they enjoy most is to come out show to the class what they found out from the data.
At the end of the session I mention that data collection is still open and the students have the opportunity to collect more data within the week - Although I do not expect them to engage more with this work, since they are busy revising for their exams that will start two days later.
But, as sometimes still happens I misjudge what drives them, and by the end of the following day, we hit 490.
The fourth year students have now set up ODK on their mobile phones, the aim is to run a short survey on risk behaviour in the area of Maseno/Luanda/Kisumu. The survey was designed with the students, and does not take more than 5 minutes of participants' time.
John, a fourth year student from Kenyatta University and currently involved with AMI was very helpful during the process. He accepted to take the lead of the ODK session with my students while Hannington was unable to come, and Danny and the other guys at AMI were busy. And he did really well, in explaining while at the same time helping the students at each step.
I threw him into this late the night before, when I asked him to prepare the session and replace Hannington. I later got to know that he went to sleep at 1 am, after reading carefully the ODK tutorial, which was all he could do off-line. This morning he worked on ODK independently, and under the pressure of having to deliver a session at 2 pm. He basically learnt by teaching to himself in half a day.
I am impressed by his determination and boldness!
Now that the semester is almost at the end I can finally make sense of what we achieved in the course of this new module, called ‘Social aspects of development’. There was a student today, a young lady, one among those presenting. She ran behind me after I had left “Madam, I wanted to thank you. I have never stand in front of an audience before. Today I have presented a paper and I have also performed a play in front of the class. I never thought I could be able to do this. Thank you”.
If anything will remain with the students after our meetings, this is it. I have seen students that I knew since last year transforming from being very quiet and not daring to look into my eyes, to making interventions and acting in a way that left me speechless. I have seen them becoming confident, and participating, even more than others who had been extrovert since the beginning. I have seen them blossoming. Today they amazed and inspired me, once more!
And I see other wonders that this method (role-play) can do – It enables students to learn and communicate using new ways of thinking. One week ago I asked to the students whether they can feel the difference in the way they think and they said that in this module they use their imagination, and they had never done that before. In order to prepare their role play they use the scientific paper they have been assigned, and I actually believe that they are more accurate than they usually are when asked to present and discuss the same paper in a standard way (which is what we do in the other module, the ‘Seminars’).
So much we achieved working together in a short period of time.
First session with students on preparation of role plays - 4 and half hours!!!!!!
So here is the summary (because I'm too excited to self-contain!): We started preparing role-plays based on the papers I have given them, these are very good journal papers on e.g. the impact of missionaries & colonialism on local populations, the failure of a micro-finance program in a village in India, the link between democracy and violence, decentralisation of natural resources & disregard of local institutions in Malawi, slums upgrading and elite-appropriation in Nairobi, etc. By the end of the session they had had a first red of the paper, and started thinking of which roles should be played in the role-play (the characters and their role). I gave them 10 minutes break at 10:20 and two groups stayed to work. Most of them are really involved and see how much they can learn and enjoy this, so I'm very happy.