The Lumen Lab.
In partnership with Computers for Schools Kenya and their network of over 3,500 schools, Lumen works with rural communities to set up Lumen Labs, including the placement of a teaching fellow at that location. Our custom-developed computer curriculum is designed around the execution of data projects, with standard data activities structured into the teaching syllabus. When an external organization has a research request, we work with them to design a custom data project that meets their needs through the structure of our curriculum.
To see how we work, let's follow Katunge into a Lumen Lab. Katunge is a student in Mtito Andei, a rural community in Eastern Kenya.
Lumen works with students who have never had access to a computer before. That means we start with the basics. Katunge will spend her first few classes learning to identify the parts of a computer, practicing her mouse navigation skills, and typing on the keyboard. But in addition to these skills, Katunge will also be introduced to the concept of data: what data is, why it's important, how to collect it,and how the computer can be used to organize and transform it into information.
After Katunge has mastered the basics of computer literacy, she will be given her first homework assignment: a data collection worksheet which she must complete by interviewing members of her family. Students are never asked to interview anyone outside of their household, and data collection worksheets are structured after standard testing formats that are familiar to them.
In this case, Katunge collects data about water in her community- information that a NGO is interested in learning in order to determine whether they should invest in building water pipes in the area. She finds out and records how far her family walks each day to fetch water, how much each jerrycan of water costs, whether the water is clean, whether her family uses any form of water purification, and how much her family is willing to spend on water each month.
When Katunge brings her completed worksheet back to class, her data is combined with her classmates to form a data set, which is analyzed by Lumen for relevance and accuracy before being released as data to outside organizations. In the classroom, Katunge and her classmates continue working with this data on their computers. To learn spreadsheet processing, they build tables and analyze the responses they've collected. To learn word processing, they write up their findings, turning the data into stories about their lives.
As Katunge progresses with the class, she is able to learn more advanced computer and data analysis skills- something that not only provides her with a valuable vocational skill, but also allows her to learn more about her own community. It's a way for her to connect to her own world, while connecting the world to her community. It's computer education and data collection, re-imagined.