The opportunity to bring IT students from our program to the VETA Mikumi Campus and improve ICT resources for the students and staff there was definitely a WIN-‐WIN situation! We made a difference and that is the best that anyone involved in international service learning could hope for.
The two NSCC students who travelled to Tanzania had, I feel, an ideal service learning experience. They used their skills, their knowledge, and their practical experience to install a sable, reliable network infrastructure at the Mikumi Campus. They learned about teamwork and gained a truly global perspective. It was what service learning should be: rewarding and enjoyable.
The project also had an impact on the other students at the Truro Campus, as throughout the winter semester many “teachable moments” arose from discussions of the value and sustainability of various resources and components we considered for the project: virtual disks… VLANs…wireless vs. wired links…etc. With the success of this project, we all have a renewed appreciation for the value of planning and preparation.
We accomplished our service goal and far exceeded our learning goals and credit for that must be equally shared with the staff and administration at VETA Mikumi. We couldn’t have asked for better hosts and we couldn’t have done it without their assistance. They were accommodating and appreciative and made us feel very welcomed. The tourism students taught us about their country and their culture, and they shared their knowledge and time with us. We introduced Chrisostom Sosthenes to web server administration only to find the next morning that the welcome message on the Mikumi WordPress Server was in now in Swahili and the photo was of the Mikumi Campus!…Just further confirmation that we had the right partner for this project.
After our time in Mikumi, I had the opportunity to attend the 6th Annual International eLearning Africa Conference in Dar es Salaam as a presenter. A number of individuals I met there asked me for information on one or more of the components we used in our solution at Mikumi (MSDNAA, DeepFreeze). The impression I was left with was that our project at Mikumi could be replicated a hundred times over in schools and college campuses throughout Africa. It would be exciting to think we could provide such an ideal service learning opportunity to even more NSCC students.
On arriving in Mikumi, the team got started immediately with the work on upgrading the existing ICT infrastructure. VETA Mikumi faculty members Chrizostom Sosthenes and Jackson Haule joined the team upon arrival on-‐site. Following is a summary of tasks which allowed the team to accomplish both learning and service goals:
Apply problem solving strategies in situations where the problems and desired solutions are both clear and unclear.
- Installed a hardware based firewall to restrict Internet access to HTTP/HTTPS traffic
- Installed a proxy service to optimize Internet bandwidth utilization
- Verified the network cabling infrastructure throughout the campus and made repairs where necessary.
- Verified and repaired the campus satellite downlink/uplink Internet feed.
- Replaced the existing network device infrastructure with enterprise grade Ethernet switches.
- Prepared an appropriate system configuration for the lab workstations that would provide adequate access to resources based on three different user profiles: ICT students, tourism students, and general users.
- Installed a Cisco 1300 access point to provide system and internet access to a faculty lounge area and to the outdoor areas of the campus adjacent to the labs
- Re-‐installed the existing Cisco 1100 access points in the Administration/ICT lab building.
Communicate information and ideas in ways that are appropriate to the purpose and audience through oral, written, and graphic means.
- Provided an overview of the existing network environment and improvement/rebuilding plans to orient the team and the Mikumi staff
- Demonstrated workstation imaging using Ghost 7.2 software
- Assisted Mikumi staff in imaging campus labs multiple times
- Assisted Mikumi staff in customizing the Campus Intranet WordPress service
- Introduced the Mikumi staff to the Campus Intranet Moodle service as a tool for blended course delivery
Use information gathering techniques, analyze and evaluate information, and use information technology to assist in the collecting, analyzing, organizing, and presenting of information.
- Monitored Internet usage at VETA Mikumi to determine how the campus could optimize access to the shared 256K satellite Internet feed.
- Determined the most appropriate solution for network connection of the business lab was wired connectivity over a proposed wireless link.
- Installed a wired 100Mb connection to the business lab allowing access to Campus Intranet resources and Internet.
Work with others as a member of a team to achieve a shared goal, help other people to learn on the job, and respond effectively to the needs of a client.
- Re-‐evaluated original implementation plans, based on the actualities on-‐site and modified those plans to suit site constraints.
- Implemented the network infrastructure and server equipment.
- Cleaned aggressive and significant virus infections on all VETA Mikumi workstations.
- Monitored and assisted Mikumi staff in cleaning virus infections using MS Essentials, CCleaner, Stinger and a selection of other utilities researched and accessed
- Monitored and assisted Mikumi staff in preparing and testing wired connections on campus
- Met with Mr. Christopher Ayo, Principal of VETA Mikumi, to discuss future directions at VETA Mikumi, including plans for a language lab and an extended ICT course
The purpose of the 2011 IT Service Learning project was to update and rebuild the existing ICT infrastructure at VETA Mikumi in Tanzania. This was to satisfy the need for tourism students at VETA Mikumi to be more ‘world aware’ through reliable access to web based resources. NSCC has been working with Tourism faculty at VETA Mikumi for some time. This is the first ‘service learning’ project undertaken by NSCC International and the School of Applied Arts and New Media from the Information Communication Technology (ICT) group of Programs.
Provide VETA Mikumi with a sustainable network infrastructure that would interconnect workstations in an Intranet, providing content management and learning management systems as well as providing optimized access to the Internet; using technologies and equipment suitable for the operating environment at VETA Mikumi.
The project was an ideal Applied Portfolio piece for the NSCC students and addressed the following learning objectives:
- Apply problem solving strategies in situations where the problems and desired solutions are both clear and unclear.
- Communicate information and ideas in ways that are appropriate to the purpose and audience through oral, written, and graphic means.
- Use information gathering techniques, analyze and evaluate information, and use information technology to assist in the collecting, analyzing, organizing, and presenting of information.
- Manage and direct one’s own learning.
- Work with others as a member of a team to achieve a shared goal, help other people to learn on the job, and respond effectively to the needs of a client.
Prior to departure the team was tasked with identifying the IT challenges at VETA Mikumi and developing sustainable solutions given the Tanzanian context. It was expected that proposed solutions would include capacity building among the staff at VETA Mikumi.
The team met weekly via Elluminate sessions to review progress and discuss potential solutions. The initial phase centered on understanding the ICT context and needs that currently exist in Mikumi and proposing a viable LAN configuration. The team researched various open source operating systems, content management systems and learning management systems. Various hardware configurations (physical and virtual) were investigated and tested to determine fault tolerance and resilience given severe climate conditions and the fact that uninterrupted power is not an option in Mikumi. The team was tasked with preparing training materials for all the components of the project solution. The primary areas of investigation, discussion and preparation are as follows:
- Basic Network Security (content filtering)
- Microsoft Security Essentials (virus protection and mitigation)
- WordPress (content management system for Campus Intranet use)
- Moodle (learning management system for Campus Intranet use)
- DeepFreeze (workstation configuration protection and restoration)
- Ghost (mass deployment of workstation images)
- Proxy Caching (WAN/Internet optimization)