User:Denniss in africa

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Life Skills & Marine Ecology

1. Name: Dennis A Stevenson 2. Email address: denniss@iafrica.com 3. Organization: Cape Windjammers Education Trust Cape Town, South Africa


I am the president of a registered charity called Cape Windjammers Education Trust – http://www.capewindjammers.org . It is CWET’s mission to use the power of training under sail for life skill, leadership and career development thereby contributing to sustainable peace and development in the region. Training under sail is internationally recognized for being an efficient tool to induce sustainable behavioral change in youth (Edinburgh University research). It is implemented widely in many countries around the world with the exception of the African continent. It is CWET’s aim to make this tool widely available for South African civil society organizations and the youth they are working with. Our organization is run entirely by passionate committed volunteers, and has a very lean budget. Here is my vision for the OLPC:

➢ 90% of our trainees are still at school and most come from disadvantaged circumstances, and many are at risk due to their gang and drug infested environs. They are thus ideal candidates to receive an OLPC.

➢ We take them on a 5-day, offshore voyage of adventure.

➢ In addition to teaching them life-skills and seamanship, we have developed a marine ecology appreciation course (several of our volunteers are post-grad marine biologists) as well as teaching them math and science disguised as navigation.

➢ A wet and windy boat is not a good environment for a book or a bunch of photocopied pages. Nor for any conventional computer. The OLPC will be ideal for the distribution of static learning material that must be taken to sea. The lightness and the one-handed grip suits an environment where one must always have “one hand on the boat”.

➢ South Africa has 11 official languages and any one course will have trainees from several of them. Hence the need to develop where possible language independent material. This fits the nature and philosophy of the OLPC.

➢ But static material, however necessary, is not what grabs a child (I have two sons 12 and 14 so I know whereof I speak). There is enormous scope for interactive material in experiencing the world of seamanship, navigation and marine ecology. I have not yet explored all the possibilities but for instance: o Marine species recognition and logging o Animations of ocean currents, tides and winds o Illustrate the way the marine species use and are affected by the ocean currents and winds o Animations of ships’ navigation lights, shapes and sounds for safety at sea (first you see only the lights, secondly you state what type of vessel(s) it is (e.g. a submarine towing a hovercraft) the the ship is revealed o We could simulate a marine radio network using the OLPCs and the children could practice radio procedure, sending and receiving “mayday” messages, etc. o Interactive scalars and vectors, shaping a boats course o Etc… o All of these will make great games (the way kids like to learn)

➢ Logging and Blogging: the youngsters learn that the ship’s log needs to be written up regularly. In like fashion we expect them to keep a log of their experiences and thoughts. Where possible we want them to put up a Blog on the net. Here is an example from the girls we sent to take part in the Tall Ships cultural exchange in Europe last year: http://teamsa-joins-tallshiprace-2007.blogspot.com/2007/08/team-sa-is-back-from-tall-ships-race.html

We also taught them how to use a video camera and how to film on board a ship and so in addition to written journals they made a video journal (available on request). How much better if each child had an OLPC with a built in camera, and could make their own multimedia journal entries as things happen or thoughts occur to them. Where we are using more than one vessel the children would be able to exchange experiences across boats on the mesh network.

➢ The multimedia journals will be taken back to their school and community where they can be projected from the OLPC while the child gives his/her report back.

➢ After the 5 days at sea plus the preparation and debriefing days the OLPC will have become an extension of the child and they will go on to use them to explore and discover more and more knowledge.

➢ Having been on a sailing adventure and arriving home with a laptop will give the child a lot of credibility among their peers and community. This will allow them to exercise their newfound self-confidence and leadership skills. And to break out of the “you’ve got to be in a gang to be somebody” trap. We expect each child that we have invested in to be a multiplier and to influence many others.

8. Description of your experience, both with hardware and software:

➢ 25 years in the Life Insurance Applications development team of an international, Fortune 500, financial services company, the biggest in Africa (see www.oldmutual.com). I started in programming, and progressed to systems analysis, systems design, application systems architecture and Business/IT strategy and process design. I achieved the positions of Chief Architect (Life Assurance) and the Principal Consultant for Strategy and Architecture. I was especially valued for my innovation and human/machine interface design, constantly being at the forefront of new technology exploitation. I have had the advantage of having been schooled in the days when memory and random access storage were tiny and code had to be very tight and sparse, plus having lead design in the days of designing for the client server environment where the client was a PC and the server was a mainframe. Early on in my career I designed the first online, real time updating, system using a database, in the financial services sector in South Africa. Late in my career I had the pleasure of designing the first Insurance sales system operating on a salesman cell phone and resulting in an issued policy on the mainframe legacy systems all within the space of the client interview. I designed the web-based sales system for our UK company. I published numerous websites starting in 1995 right up to the present.

➢ 5 years as a consultant at the head of my own company (see www.ITStratCon.com)

➢ And now, though I still have the company, I don’t accept contracts anymore because I am involved full time with being

o A stay-at-home Dad for my two early teen boys. o President of Cape Windjammers Education Trust

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