2020 Accomplishments and 2021 Plans
COVID-19 challenges affirm the need for the kinds of practical, affordable, and scalable education solutions that CyberSmart Africa has innovated and modeled for over ten years.
Smart Senegal Social Network (priority initiative)
Smartsenegal.com is a highly innovative knowledge-building platform that helps teachers get ahead. Messaging, collaboration, and content sharing help teachers construct lessons and improve their teaching.
During 2020 we continued work to build, evaluate, and improve the platform – a vital tool for teachers to have meaningful connections with learning content, and with each other. Strategic use of artificial intelligence helps them find and apply the best pedagogical resources. We will continue the development and roll-out of Smartsenegal.com throughout 2021.
The Heart of Senegal – health lessons
The Senegalese national curriculum urgently needs a “health update.” Many health lessons are obsolete, while vital content is missing. In the midst of the pandemic, CyberSmart Africa worked with education leaders and teachers to develop and distribute model health lessons. We have set forth a plan to dramatically improve health education through ongoing lesson development and distribution in 2021.
Just prior to the COVID-19 confinement, we partnered with the National Basketball Association and brought rural elementary school students (many living in homes without electricity or plumbing) to the gleaming NBA Academy training facility in Saly, Senegal. The purpose was to motivate and inspire the students by meeting and playing with elite basketball players. The young students learned that great basketball requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills, along with the presence of a great coach – who is also a great teacher.
This was the simplest and perhaps the most powerful of all our 2020 initiatives. The simple act of renovating a school flagpole and replacing an old, shredded flag instantly transformed civics instruction into compelling, real-world learning. Students and teachers raise the flag and sing the national anthem each week with a heightened level of dignity and respect.
Building a Computer
American Chamber of Commerce
I continue to assume a leadership role within the American Chamber of Commerce to strengthen American investment and influence in West Africa. The net impact can be huge, including transparency improvements, and embracing more problem solving and decision making at all levels.
Solar Powered Digital Learning
Building on over ten years of experience in Senegal, CyberSmart Africa continues to realize our vision of massively scalable, low-cost digital learning. This year we focused on directly supporting local Elementary school teachers to integrate Android-based apps that extended and support the curriculum with digital resources for whole-class instruction.
Speaking at West Africa Com, the Meeting Place for Leading Telcom Players in West Africa
At the invitation of West Africa Com, I led a virtual discussion focused on the fact that teachers are the largest consumers of telecom services in sub-Saharan Africa. The telecom ecosystem needs to figure out how to reduce the cost of connectivity for teachers, while they manage the tremendous growth of online educational solutions. My second virtual discussion concerned the key cybersecurity education challenges necessary in order to achieve digital commerce for all.