A Spiritual Revolution Through Computers

My visit with students at ECWA International College of Technology in Jos, Nigeria.

My visit with students at ECWA International College of Technology in Jos, Nigeria.

I poked my head into a computer classroom at ECWA International College of Technology (EICT) and started snapping photos. Things got a little crazy from there. Pretty soon everyone wanted to take their picture with me. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m a celebrity? Or not …

One of the young men I took a photo with is on the left in this image. His name is Simfa Peter and he is one of seven boys from a family who lives in Jos. His father works in Lagos, a distance of about 600 miles. Simfa told me he is undergoing a diploma program in information technology and is in his third module at EICT.

He hopes to attend Bingham University in Jos, but has yet to gain admission and at the moment his family can’t afford the fees. “But I’m hoping God will do something this year,” he said.

When I asked Simfa about his experience at EICT, he had an amazing response. “Sincerely EICT has made me know Christ and made my relationship with Christ so strong through the discipleship class we do have and life principles class,” he said. “And it taught me how to use my computer and gadgets perfectly.”

And there’s more from Simfa on EICT. “And seriously, EICT has really impacted knowledge in me physically and spiritually.”

I got more than I bargained for when I ducked into the classroom for some photos and videos of students in action. I got a testimony of the Lord’s work through a school founded by TEN3 President Anthony Petrillo more than 20 years ago. These young men and women in Nigeria are being equipped spiritually through Christ-centered teaching and practically through computer skills training and we’re seeing the fruits of the labors in transformed lives.

–Matt Sabo, TEN3 Communications Manager

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`To Reach Out In Diverse Ways’

Kwangs Dauda (right) speaks with Intensive Christian Training School founder Eric Black.

Kwangs Dauda (right) speaks with Intensive Christian Training School founder Eric Black.

Kwangs Dauda seems to have an easy peace about him. Young and strong with a military background, Dauda is 25 years old and a self-described changed man. After attending Intensive Christian Training School in Biliri, Nigeria, Dauda said he learned a lot.

“I learned how to live in peace with the community and how to love more and how to be humble,” he said with a smile in the school’s courtyard. He also learned how to tell somebody about Christ, he said. Evangelization is something he enjoys the most now.

In particular, Dauda enjoyed the Transformational Education Network (TEN3) program at the school. The Intensive Christian Training School was founded and operated by missionary Eric Black. The school trains students in using computers and in addition to Windows, teaches the Linux operating system and the open source platform Ubuntu.

Dauda said he would love for all of his friends and all the youth around to have the same experience. He would love to have more support, primarily technical support and materials for the program, Dauda said.

“It will go a long ways to help the Tangali people and the Christians in the community to reach out in diverse ways,” Dauda said. “When you learn how to use the computer you can preach through the computer, you can enlighten someone with the computer and get them to know Christ.”

For more information on the school and to see an interview with Dauda, go here: https://vimeo.com/114681648

–By Matt Sabo, TEN3 Communications Manager

Maximizing Learning In A U-Shaped Classroom

visiting a U-shaped classroom

I get a kick out of it when the Lord leads us into something, sometimes when we are asking for something else, which seems less and turns out to be more. One of those cases is our use in the Transformational Education Network of the U-shaped classroom.

The West is facing some difficulties as it moves to all-computerized classrooms, which we’ve been doing in Africa since the 1980s. Two of these difficulties are keeping the students on task and getting the students’ attention. Once the students have a computer in front of them, the teacher doesn’t know if they are doing their work or answering email. When the teacher wants to say something or explain something, they have a hard time keeping the students’ attention because their eyes and minds keep going back to the screen.

The West’s solution is more technology: programs that will help you manage or control the students. With this technology, the teacher can watch every student’s screen to make sure they are on task. They can also blank out all the screens to get the students’ attention. There are several problems with this:

  • The software takes up part of the budget that could be used for something else that adds learning value;
  • It requires a particular infrastructure that reduces the flexibility of the system;
  • It fosters the wrong type of character development.

The fostering of the wrong type of character development is the worst of the problems. We are not teaching our students self-control, but that we will control them. The result is that when the teacher is not watching, like when I’m home, I’m going to do whatever I want, even if it is bad for me. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that the U.S. culture was schizophrenic. That is, people would do opposing things that made no sense and hurt themselves. In the U.S., we call for character development, spending a lot looking for ways to teach it, and yet every day in the classroom we use tools that impede self-control.

The U-shaped class addresses the problems of keeping on task and getting students’ attention. At the same time, it encourages self-control. We designed the U-shaped class so the teacher could easily see all the students’ screens. We also allow for a W shape for a larger class, with a teacher’s assistant watching one group. We did not do this so the teacher could police what the students were doing. We did that so the teacher could easily help the student when they needed it. Besides, in a TEN3 course, the material is designed so that the student doesn’t even think of wasting their time on other things, because they want to learn what is being taught.

When the teacher wants to present something, the students turn in their seats to see the teacher and the board. Hence, the screen is not a deterrent or in the way at all. This is also much more conducive to student discussion than desks placed in rows.

In this case, no longer is the teacher seen as a policeman keeping the students from doing what they want, but as someone who is helping them to develop. There is also a physical move made that enhances the fact that they are giving their students respect. As educators, we know that the more learning categories we can involve in the learning process, the more students we will reach. That is, some students learn better by hearing, others by seeing, others by movement and so forth. There is a real significant difference in a military where physical signs of respect are used, for example a salute, or standing when a superior officer comes in and so forth. That physical sign of respect in still giving the students control of the computers and helps character development far more than if the teacher always controlled them.

There is an adage to “give credit where credit is due.” We are not pretending we thought of this when we decided on the U shape. As we started out, we are thanking the Lord for the ways he has used what we thought were limitations to give us better concepts.

Principle: More technology does not mean better.

Not only is more technology not necessarily better, but if we study technological history, we see that technology often has a detrimental impact on learning. People that purposefully and prayerfully select their technology are the ones that end up the best in the long run.

–Anthony Petrillo, TEN3 President