Coders4Africa Egerton University Boot Camp December 2012

Kristen Houlton has worked with the Nairobi part of the Computer Aid team as Training Coordinator, facilitating workshops and working with organisations such as Coders4Africa to put on a series of boot camps for burgeoning programmers. Here’s her summary of the Egerton University Boot Camp which took place on the 12th of December in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Members of the Kenya Chapter of Coders4Africa (C4A), in conjunction with Computer Aid International, traveled to Egerton University, Njoro Town outside of Nakuru to deliver our first-ever Mobile and web Boot Camp to the students there. The training involved Egerton students, most involved in IT programs. This Mobile and web Boot Camp was funded through a cost-sharing arrangement between Coders4Africa USA (primary), Computer Aid and Egerton University

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Registration and Attendance


Registration was handled by student leaders of the Egerton University Computer Students Association on campus. Close 50 computer students attended the bootcamp. We did experience some challenges getting students registered, getting students to show up for the sessions for which they registered, and in student retention as the activity was planned over three days, the second day of which was the Egerton University day of closing for Christmas holiday.  Consequently, we did lose some students who left campus for the holiday.

Location


We benefited from the use of 5 computer labs in the Department of Computer Science building on the Egerton Campus. We were, therefore, able to run multi-day sessions for most of the languages (only Python and Windows Phone 7 were limited in training hours as they shared one computer lab). The labs were well-outfitted and had good internet/power connectivity; multiple projectors were also made available to us. The location was very suitable.

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Staffing


This training was carried off with a staffing structure involving:

  • Training Coordinator (Kristen Houlton) – in charge of all planning, logistics, venue coordination, stationary purchase, coordination with the host university, management of registration list, accommodation/travel plans, administrative support (registration procedures and management, logistics, etc.), photography.
  • Technical Coordinator (Joseph Mokaya) – development of course schedule and curriculum, facilitator recruitment and management, coordination with Egerton on technical issues, design of training flyer, on-site coordination of the training.
  • Training Host (Dr. W.G. Gikaru, Chairman, Computer Science Department assisted by student leaders of the Computer Science student group, Dickens and Laban) participant recruitment, assignment and management of university staff tasks associated with the training, coordination with university management, troubleshooting (technically, human resource-related, and otherwise), coordination with Egerton on meals for the travelers on training days.
  • C4A Travelling Group – 12 C4A members facilitated all blocks of Android, J2ME, Windows Phone 7, SMS/USSD, PHP and Python and also acted as support/troubleshooters in both sessions. This was primarily the same group we always use. Considering they have volunteered their time, they really have acted throughout all of the boot camps with the utmost professionalism and technical skill. The list of facilitators, and languages they taught is as follows:

This staffing structure was very successful. We really did need a lot of student support in order to teach new coding languages & platforms to learners of varying technical backgrounds, so having two facilitators per language with the rest as support personnel really worked well.

LANGUAGES & PLATFORMS TAUGHT

TRAINERS

Android

Adams Opiyo
Gitata Gichohi
 

J2ME

Steve Kinyanjui
Rose Kwamboka

SMS/USSD

Jackson Karuiki
Joy Naitore

phpmysql

Anne Mukundi
Terry Wambui

Python

Elisha Bwatuti
Faith Muringi

Windows Phone 7

Mutono Nyamai
Catherine Kyalo

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Weekend Schedule Overview and Course Content


I traveled as Training Coordinator with a total of 13 student coder-members of the Kenya Chapter of Coders4Africa, 12 facilitators (two per language we taught) plus the Technical Manager Joseph Mokaya. We traveled during the day of Wednesday 12 December through a special charter with Molo Lines. This Boot Camp allowed students to self-select learning up to three coding languages (all languages were taught for multiple days), as follows: 13 December – Day 1: J2ME (1 lab) Android (1 lab) SMS/USSD (1 lab) SQL/PHP (1 lab) Python (1 lab) 14 December – Day 2: J2ME (1 lab) Android (1 lab) SMS/USSD (1 lab) SQL/PHP (1 lab) Python alternating with Windows Phone 7 (1 lab, shared) 15 December – Day 3: Project Day J2ME (1 lab) Android (1 lab) SMS/USSD (1 lab) SQL/PHP (1 lab) Python alternating with Windows Phone 7 (1 lab, shared) Content for all languages was replicated from that which was taught during the two Mobile Boot Camps held at Taita Taveta University College. Content was delivered with a mix of PowerPoint presentations and lecture supported by roving facilitators who supported students one-on-one throughout the sessions. We ran the Boot Camp from 9:00a.m. until 5:00p.m.

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Student Projects


The final training day, Saturday 15 December, was largely turned over to project-building in small groups.  This afforded the facilitators the opportunity to assess their students’ actual understanding and retention of the concepts taught during the previous two days.

The students in the Python, Android, PHP and J2ME sessions constructed a student management systems to register new students and keep records of them. Like other public universities in Kenya, at Egerton there is no student management module, records are all kept manually.

The trainees of the SMS/USSD session devised a hotel management system that is integrated with MPESA (Safaricom’s mobile money platform in Kenya).  In this system a user sends an SMS booking to a specified number and in return the system will send a roster of all available rooms. The user must also specify if a single or double room is needed.  Once the booking has been confirmed, the user will be required to send money through MPESA for it to be processed.  Users will then receive a confirmatory SMS.

The Windows Phone 7 trainees were First Year students.  Consequently, learning C# was a big task for them. Nonetheless, they managed to run a simple login page on a Windows phone.

Certifications


We will be awarding soft-copy Certificates of Achievement to all course participants who successfully built projects (in groups) using the language of instruction during the last training day (Saturday, 15 December).

Impact on Institutional Partnership with Host University

Egerton University Computer Students Association would like to partners with Coders4Africa so that they can expand their training scope.

See more pictures here.

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