Along with teaching English to the students in their first year of the agriculture school, I’m also teaching basic computer skills to the second-year class—at least in theory. The school has a computer lab but as our generator only runs at night and school is takes place during the day, we don’t really have access to it. The headmaster keeps telling me to be patient for electricity to come for 24 hours. If all the students lived in the dormitory we could do class at night but some of them live a few kilometers away, and in the dark there would be no way they could come. Students aren’t really allowed in the computer lab anyway—as far as I can tell, it’s mostly for (male) professors to share music and play Grand Theft Auto.
What it comes down to is that I am teaching class with just my own laptop. It’s not ideal for many reasons, but I am making it work because I have no choice. I managed to track down an Informatica book in the library here, which is helpful for vocabulary and explaining things in Portuguese. Most of my students hadn’t touched a computer before, so we can start right at the beginning—talking about how to move the cursor, what the functions of the different keys are, and how to open Microsoft Word. I realized how much I take for grantd being able to use a computer even at the rather elementary level that I know how to.
The students are really interested in computers so they are mercifully patient with me—waiting while their classmates do other things, and helpful and understanding with my emerging Portuguese. I think I have done an okay job of explaining what basic things are in a computer, but definitions of programs and steps for doing things are meaningless unless you can apply them. It does know good to know abstractly how to open a program or to type; you need to be able to physically do those things and that takes a lot of practice and familiarity. I’m hoping electricity comes soon so we don’t waste more time.