After a quite exciting week in Mauritius for the eLearning Africa conference, I am now getting back to the wrap-up activities at Eritrea Institute of Technology (EIT) under the ICT4EEDU project. Amazing progress is being achieved in this project this time, as we get closer to the completion of the project life period. So much has been said about the new lab at EIT, the EdTech lab. I now want to share the other bigger part of the project as we step towards a stage where we are preparing to campaign and get our user community, the EIT education community and beyond, know all what has been achieved and let them navigate through the new services and resources. This part of the project is all about upgrading our ICT Infrastructure and establishing a resource-rich Intranet for EIT, with the ultimate aim to share with our wider higher education community in Eritrea.
The pre-existing ICT Infrastructure at EIT has been established in 2008, while minor upgrading and development were taking place since then. As we got the opportunity to deal with our ICT challenges and the need for upgrading under the Eritrea-Finland projects of cooperation, the ICT4EEDU and Digital Library and Library Automation (DiLLA) projects, we had consciously set our main problems to address. At the core of this process was the fact that there was critical shortage of educational resources and references, especially those that can promote research at the higher education level. This was even further affected by the very slow internet connectivity to satisfy the needs. Therefore, the ICT4EEDU and DiLLA projects have considered this challenge at the core of the solution we sought to solve, and all our efforts in these projects have been directed towards easing the problems and leading to ultimate solution in the long run.
In doing this, these projects embarked on upgrading the prevailing ICT Infrastructure throughout the EIT campus, which included replacement of backbone network equipment (latest technologies of Wireless Bridges and Access points) to ensure bigger enough bandwidth for Intranet access within the campus. This part of the project helped realize a wider coverage of the Intranet within the campus and a more reliable state of the ICT infrastructure at EIT. Moreover, the establishment of a resource-rich Intranet was also one of the core achievements of the projects, where we have managed to equip our campus intranet with various resource that will benefit the teaching-learning process at EIT and promote research along side.
The main services introduced include:
- Local email service (@eit.edu.er)
- Offline full version Wikipedia
- Curriculum based Digital Library
- eGranary Educational Resources repository with about 35mil e-resources
- Open repository of e-resources that is automatically indexed and directly accessed by special search engine
- our own search engine that we developed to ease access to the open e-resources repository within our intranet
- Planet eStream, a video streaming system enabling the community to directly stream video educational materials
- Asterix Voice over IP Open source system to be used within the intranet across offices and personnel
- Active Directory
Having all the newly developed systems on our intranet, we are now on the verge of completing the project planned achievements and preparing to go for campaign to introduce these developments and ensure wider use of the resources by the EIT community. We are also preparing Posters and fliers to help us with the campaign activities to better equip the community with the needed information. Most of the resources are ready for use, while a few of them will be rolled out in due time as they need to be accompanied by special training and workshops to develop a community to effectively use them in their endeavors.
In developing all these facilities and resources, several visits have been made by the project members at EIT to Finland during the design phase and exposure & training purposes. Experts from the Finnish partner university in the project, the University of Eastern Finland and Aalto University, have also been visiting EIT in several occasions to train local experts and help us with the establishment of the new systems.
The major visits and conference participation by the ICT4EEDU project members so far include:
- Exploratory visit by UEF experts to EIT at the beginning of the project
- Design and planning of the project visit to UEF by EIT delegation
- Participating at the Science Festival (Sciefest) at UEF by project members from EIT
- Participating at the 11th eLearning Africa Conference 2016 in Cairo
- Participating at UbuntuNet Regional conference 2016, in Uganda
- UEF experts visit to launch the newly established EdTech lab and run training sessions at EIT
- UEF expert visit to EIT to kick-off the project equipment settings and initiate intranet services planning and setup, after the project equipment arrived at EIT
- Participating and presenting a paper at Africon International conference 2017, in Cape Town, RSA
- Participating and Presenting a paper at the 12th eLearning Africa conference 2017, in Mauritius
A few snaps on the project activity highlights:
The harmonious interaction and teamwork spirit between the projects’ parties has led to the successful fruition of the projects. The full cooperation and motivation by the Government of Eritrea and the Finnish government body, the EDUFI, has been instrumental to realize all these achievements in deed. The support from the expert team members of the projects from both parties and the EIT’s academic and administrative bodies have also been so important that without them, the projects would not have been successful. The big lesson we have learned from these projects is, in fact, that team work and a harmonious relationship between the engaged parties is the mystery behind the success and motivation to dedication at work, which we always cherish. Thanks to all parties lending a hand in the project activities.
The ICT4EEDU team (EIT & UEF)