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)