Bringing Offline Websites To The Rural Classroom
Even in this day and age, learning with the use of some technology can be difficult. Many rural areas are still left without any equipment that can facilitate learning using computers. In fact, the use of any kind of technology is rare. As such, many teachers would resort to many traditional methods of teaching.
So, before I continue any further, here’s a bit of a context. Rural areas from where I’m from are areas with very basic facilities. These areas are normally cut off from towns and would require some jungle trekking and perhaps even a boat ride deep into the jungle. Make no mistake though, some of these schools have some computers. However, they are rarely used because there is limited to no internet connection.
Now, I am not against the use of traditional methods to teach. However, without exposing the students to technology or the internet may put them at a disadvantage. Many of these students may be given the opportunity to enter college one day. With the need to do most assignments and projects using a computer and the internet, students from rural areas may find it difficult adapting to a completely new environment.
As a teacher trainer, one of the tools I would introduce to my teacher trainees is a program called HTTrack.
HTTrack is a program that can download an entire website to be used offline. Now if the program looks like it was made from the last century, it was. However, don’t let the look of the program deceive you, the program has been constantly updated.
HTTrack is not the only website copying tool out there. It is however one of the oldest and compatible with Windows 2000. This makes it perfect for rural areas with some computers still running on Windows XP. Thus, you won’t have to worry about the program being incompatible unless, well, the computer runs on Windows 98.
The other great thing about HTTrack is that it is free.Some website copying tools would cost you a bit to use. While they may have a little more features than HTTrack, it may not be worth the money.
Using HTTrack in the classroom
To use HTTrack requires some planning. A teacher would have to head to a place with stable and good internet connection to plan the lesson. Whatever the lesson plan may be, part of it should include students browsing an offline website. For example, the teacher may want to teach about renewable energy. The teacher could download a website dedicated to renewable energy for the students to browse offline. The teacher could also ask students to complete tasks that requires the students to find information from the offline site.
Through such activities, this should provide the students with some experience with browsing a website. In addition, the novelty of doing so may encourage the students to be more engaged with some of the more boring subjects. As such, the teacher can incorporate the use of HTTrack as a form of motivation or hook to attract the students towards the lesson.
One of the biggest challenge faced when using a tool like HTTrack is not the equipment nor the facilities. While those do play a big part in ensuring that students can use technology, the biggest challenge of all is the tenacity or rather, the desire of the teacher to see this true.
I would not sugar coat this by saying that implementing a tool like HTTrack in the classroom is easy, it requires the teacher to plan ahead and long hours at cafes, waiting for the entire website to download. Thus, it is important that the teacher perseveres and incorporates the use of some technology at any opportunity.
This is because for teachers of rural schools, you are the children’s only gateway towards using technology. If you equip them well enough, you may be instrumental in giving them a fighting chance in life. This would go a long way in changing the life of not just one child but a family or even a community.