A big chunk of this trip is being devoted to updates to the Reneal IEO servers at each of the 14 schools in Cebu where we’ve installed the system. Updates allow us to add new capabilities at each school, fix bugs, and just in general check out how things are going. This time Neal is adding the PhET package to the server, a really fantastic collection of science simulations for students (http://phet.colorado.edu/). We have some science and math songs on different topics that we’ll store on the server, plus the FET timetabling program and updated templates for the new K-12 grading system. Neal has also installed the PyCharm environment for teaching Python code development. Bug fixes include a correction to the “RemoveStudentDirectories” program that will remove last year’s student files in preparation for the new school year, plus a fix to the interface configuration file.
I’m writing this in the dark in our apartment, as the power has gone out again. These outages, referred to locally as “brownouts”, have been following us around perniciously for the last few days: from Ormoc City to Compostela to Consolacion and now back again in Compostela. And – HURRAH! – the electricity has just begun again, giving me that intense feeling of joy that one seldom experiences in America where utilities are taken for granted. How unbelievably lucky we are to have such reliable services in the U.S.
I’m sitting here in the IT lab at Compostela National High School, preparing for in-service training next week and waiting on a download to finish. It’s been a good first week for us. As usual, we expected to have more done at this point than we do… but one step at a time.
Well, in just under 24 hours, we traveled from home base #1 in Fremont, California to home base #2 in Compostela, Cebu. Priscilla Batty, Reneal IEO Board Member, picked us up at 10 a.m. Thursday for our flight out of San Francisco International Airport. We traveled light, although that’s a relative term: two duffel bags, one balikbayan box, and our daypacks. The flights were close to on-time and everything went smoothly. We arrived at Mactan International last night at midnight and got to our apartment in Compostela right around 1 a.m. Saturday morning. What a joy to be met at the other end by friend and Team Philippines member Raul Lorenzana!
It’s the typical pre-trip whirlwind already: seeing friends and family before we go, wrapping up my consulting work, last minute purchases of equipment, and making piles of stuff to take for our two-month stay in Cebu. The packing list has been honed after many trips for Reneal IEO, but there are always extras for each individual trip. For example, Neal is going to bring his Raspberry Pi and ODROID-C1 computers this time for testing and evaluation. Since we left quite a few items there in Compostela when we left in March (our trusty green tool bag, for example), we’ll be able to travel a bit lighter than usual.
We’re less than two weeks away from our return to Cebu, so it’s time to start printing lists and planning schedules. We are not expecting to do additional installations on this visit, so we can focus instead on spending time at each of the 14 schools that have the Reneal IEO system already in place in the Philippines. We are very excited to reunite with Team Philippines and with the fantastic IT teachers at these schools!
My counting might be off, but this is roughly the hundredth blog post I’ve written since the Reneal IEO website came on line. Reneal IEO celebrated its third corporate birthday just ten days ago!
It’s been a good week, one filled with diverse Reneal IEO tasks for each of us. It was capped off by a Facebook chat last night with Team Philippines member Rogie Abala, who will be making a Reneal IEO video! Meanwhile, the countdown continues for our return to the Philippines!
One of the key challenges for organizations like Reneal IEO is providing on-going tech support when we’re on one continent and our partners are on another. Each year we learn a bit more about how to make this more effective, and each year technology advances overseas help us connect more easily with our colleagues in the Philippines and Tanzania. One recent evening, I had the indescribable joy of chatting simultaneously on Facebook with someone in Tanzania and someone in the Philippines! The technology is cool, but it’s really about the wonderful feeling of connection that we can have with our partners in other countries, even when we’re not there.
Right before we left the Philippines, thirteen new Computer Student Specialists (CSS’s) were identified at Compostela National High School (CNHS) and Compostela Night High School. A CSS is a student with an interest in computers and a willingness to serve others at the school by helping the IT teachers with various tasks. Jade and Jillian, key members of Reneal IEO Team Philippines, were part of the original CSS group at CNHS, so this is a program that we are excited to support!