Waveplace basically does three things: train new mentors, support laptop projects, and create courseware. Nearly all of our time is spent on the first two, mostly because those are the easiest tasks to fundraise for. Courseware always seems to be an “also ran”, mostly due to lack of time & money.

The courseware we’ve created has either been self-funded or done by volunteers. The volunteer work tends to be infrequent and unfocused, without much connection to teaching in actual classrooms in the field. This was one of the central insights from our last St John workshop. The courseware we created while working with the kids was considerably better than courseware created back at home. There’s just no substitute for trying things out directly with the children who will be using it.

Given this, I’m thinking about a new policy: courseware only gets made & tested by certified mentors. Certified means: 1) taken a Waveplace workshop and 2) completed six weeks teaching in one of our laptop programs. While this might exclude a great number of talented educators from possibly volunteering to make courseware, the truth is that there’s just too much to expect an outsider to understand. Nearly all of it is pacing & guidance & setting expectations. The topics being taught and the nifty interactive ideas are minor in comparison. Unless you’ve been in it, often, you really can’t imagine this; you can’t anticipate.

Courseware made by volunteers is invariably made to be taught by that specific educator (or similar people) in settings they’re familiar with. It’s rarely made to be used by Very Different Teachers in Very Different Settings, usually with people using computers for the first time. This is an essential problem with the Etoys and Sugar communities: they’re mostly made of innovators who create material for other innovators.

2 responses to “T-7) Courseware by Mentors”

  1. Steve Thomas says:

    What happened to the courseware we developed when working with Beth? Having guidelines and feedback on the courseware folks create is a great idea and I’m sure needed. I have not as yet received any feedback on the courseware I created and would have gladly made changes if requested and provided minimal guidance. I can and do test the stuff I create on kids.

    • teefal says:


      I don’t recall seeing anything by you. Beth led the volunteer courseware effort in the last year, so it’s possible it never made it to me. What was the topic?

      As for testing on kids, it’s not really about that. Testing on kids in the continental US versus testing in places like Haiti is quite different, due to where both the teachers and the children are at. Also, our two week training has its own set of expectations that get created. The point in this post is simply that people that go through a workshop and teach in the field have a much better idea of what to expect.

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