WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 18, 2013 – Peace Corps volunteer Elizabeth Crompton of Woodstock, Ga., is opening doors to job opportunities for university students and local community members in Tanzania. Together with local faculty, Crompton recently led a seminar on how to operate, navigate and program computer systems using a free, open source computer operating system that is accessible in developing countries like Tanzania, where computer software can be expensive and prohibitive to computer learning.
“The kind of thinking that computing and programming teaches encourages self-reliance and problem-solving,” said Crompton, who has been working as an information and communications technology volunteer since 2011. “I want my students to become comfortable with not having all the answers and looking for what they need. Having computer skills in Tanzania makes one much more likely to get a job.”
A fellow teacher at the university where Crompton teaches approached her with the idea of leading the seminar. Crompton holds a master’s degree in computer science and worked with her fellow teachers and students to write the seminar curriculum and teach the course.
“In any course I teach, I try to cover the basic concepts very well and then provide links and suggestions for additional online resources,” Crompton said. “There are few offline resources in Tanzania for computing, so the web is really all community members have to rely on. Learning to find meaningful information from the web is a skill that will help them with anything, not just computing.”
Crompton’s seminar led her students to create an online community where they can help others who are using the open source operating system to develop their computer skills. Students are also collaborating to write their own computer programs.
“The response from the community has been very positive,” Crompton said.