OpenmindProjects in 2021 – Adapting to life during and after Covid. Bringing online learning to village kids.

Adapting with volunteers and alumni


Welcome to our May 2021, update. How is OpenmindProjects adapting to the unexpected again and again?

We are moving on  to helping young people online.  Together with our alumni and volunteers from Cisco, OpenmindProjects and Cisco tech solutions will offer great online learning opportunities !

We do miss our trainees, campers and volunteers! How long will Covid prevent us from welcoming them back? We don’t know. Unfortunately, a new and worse Covid wave is harassing Thailand. Our local work remains disrupted!

Since 2020 we have worked with a group of alumni and volunteers from Cisco to find innovative ways to help village and migrant, refugee children online!

In January we did manage to arrange a camp for young students, many orphans, with our alumni as camp leaders.

This spring OpenmindProjects and Cisco were preparing for an April ‘hybrid’ camp for some 40 village students. We agreed camps with schools and  education authorities. Some 14 OpenmindProjects alumni, previous OpenmindProjects trainees or campers and familiar with our learning by doing approach, would act as local camp leaders and Cisco volunteers in several countries would join online. We prepared for this ‘hybrid’ camp using Cisco technology (WebEx).

Alas, Songkran, the Thai New Year celebrations, contributed to spreading Covid all over Thailand. Camp plans had to be canceled  with new Covid restrictions in Thailand. Now schools will not open until later in June, a date that is of course uncertain.

Due to the new Covid wave, we had to change plans and rethink! And rethink we did, with alumni and Cisco volunteers. We decided on a completely Virtual Camp, camp leader training with online learning development. 

What can we do that interests village children? Students, and teachers,  have a rather dim view of present online teaching, traditional rote learning. With our alumni being able to judge what will interest students and Cisco volunteers able to judge what is technically doable, we set out.

Some of our talented alumni and great volunteers

We just finished a May Camp and Workshop with alumni and Cisco volunteers

This is where we stand now, more optimistic and confident that we can offer an interesting and useful online learning option. More schools, previous volunteers are interested. We even have enquiries from other countries and NGOs. 

Going online offers new and more opportunities to reach out for a small NGO like OpenmindProjects, provided volunteers, technology and funding!

So, we finished this virtual training/’product/service’ development with our talented Thai/Lao alumni, based in Thailand, Laos and Sweden together with a multinational team of Cisco volunteers located in China, South Korea, India and Australia.

OpenmindProjects alumni Khom, Atichoke, now studying IT security in Sweden

Cisco team member, volunteer Vivien, from Malaysia and based in Australia, great project planning advisor to alumni

Our Virtual Camp was designed in line with our normal camps, Learning by Doing

We like it when students can learn English while they learn about an important topic like climate change. Search, analyze, discuss, summarize, present, debate with other camp teams and in English.

This time we focused on online learning in a virtual setting, We all met online from many different locations. With volunteer help alumni learned to coach campers/students, to work with WebEx, use digital tools such as Kahoot, Poll Everywhere and OneMob.  Finally, they suggested online learn English activities for village schools that we want to support,  OpenmindProjects using Cisco technology and online volunteers.

This was a first!  How easy/difficult would it be to work and learn together online, learning by doing? Was it doable? Yes, it is, is our confident answer!

OpenmindProjects alumni Yeen, from Isaan, Northeast Thailand, now an English student at university

Stacy, Vivien, Chhavi, , Soyeong, Anil from Cisco (missing are Kerry and Ting) and OMP volunteer alumni Ana and Michael, working online with Openminders alumni and cofounders

Together with our alumni and volunteers from Cisco, we will now move on to elaborate project plans to offer Online Learning Programs to schools

Four alumni/volunteer teams will work to prepare four projects that can be implemented online at schools. 

Ideas about learning English online with OpenmindProjects

OpenmindProjects Nutty, already an English teacher, presenting her team's project

We will go back to the schools, we agreed camps with. We will now present and discuss how we can work with them together with online volunteers and using Cisco technology. 

Going back to schools

Eventually we aim to scale up!

Go to more schools, camps and invite more volunteers. Our ambition is to provide engaging and fun online learning opportunities to village children based on OpenmindProjects pedagogy and Cisco technology. Cisco Systems  is  a perfect partner for OpenmindProjects to be able to go online!

Volunteer Stacy, the Cisco Asia Pacific, Japan and China Strategy & Planning Lead, from Singapore and based in Australia

‘Online collaboration is not new to Cisco. Meetings, workshops are done via Cisco WebEx solutions. Working from home is the new norm with Covid-19. We were excited to share our experiences, best practices and digital tools with OpenmindProjects,’ says volunteer Stacy Pereira, the Asia Pacific, Japan and China Strategy & Planning Lead.

And Michelle Seo-Eun  Jeong, from South Korea, another dedicated member of the Cisco team says, ‘I’m so glad we’re able to help children using our technology. When I met the alumni, I was impressed with their passion to support their communities. We’re really looking and committed to continue this digital journey with OpenmindProjects.’ 

Michelle Jeong, member of the Cisco team, working with her alumni team

Adds OpenmindProjects alumni James, now studying international relations at Mahasarakham University, ‘Covid, a new challenge? It is unable to stop us from learning! Me and my friends will make students and schools highly benefit, like I  have, from OpenmindProjects and Cisco’s initiative.’

Alumni James, far right, no 2 from the top, in engaged conversations about learning.

OpenmindProjects has run camps for many years with international volunteers

We have a long experience engaging campers in learning activities. And we have a long experience introducing volunteers to local conditions, culture, teaching local students, even some language. 

Some 2000 Thai, Lao and Burmese teenagers have taken part in our popular camps over the years. Now we want to offer innovative online learning English to village children. We bring pedagogic experience, alumni and volunteers. Cisco contributes technology, infrastructure, online work experience and volunteers. 

Once Covid-19 permits, we really look forward to welcoming back volunteers and village youth!

Thanks a lot professional volunteers from Cisco, thanks Cisco, thanks a lot our alumni and thanks to all supporters who helped and help us! We will come back, tell you more about the coming online programs and hope to bring better Covid news from Thailand!

Camp team ideas

Team work

Learn by watching, doing, using

Can we do it?

Learning English by presenting

Present

Who do we want to help?

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