It was one of the greatest adventures of my life to go to Madagascar in 2010, propose the EuroPLOT project in collaboration with the Lutheran Graduate School of Theology (SALT) in Fianaransoa, and then return for three months in January-March 2013 to do the testing and dessimination for the seminaries.
I am grateful that it both gave me a career as a professor of information and communication technology as well as a global vision for the majority world. And along the road I lost my heart completely to an amazing country with an inspiring lutheran missionary church, and I felt at home as if this was my own Scandinavian roots. I treasure the bonds that have been forged with my precious Malagassy colleges and friends and the great work for PLOTLearner they did by assisting in carefully documenting the learning outcomes. I am simply so happy for the happy end of the EuroPLOT Madagascar project.
PLOTLearner after the end of EuroPLOT is now at a crossroad. I have updated my official pamphlet to reflect the present status - see the attached.
I trust that we in 1-2 years time will see a very impressive level of learning among applicants at the graduate school, exhibiting top skills thanks to hard training. Some of these applicants are bound to overtake most learners in the West who do not use the opportunity to be taught to practice by the Hebrew Bible, nor do they have the passion for Hebrew that some of the Malagassy learners have. I am in regular contact with pastor Pascal from Atsimoniavoko who fortunately keeps me updated on the progress among his students and their needs. The first is a constant source of joy for me, the latter I mostly cannot help out with at a distance as long as our only contact is by the occasional email.
EuroPLOIT has delivered what we came for and we can now stop, and PLOTLearner will also stop if nothing else develops. However, I see many new opportunities and unrealized potential, especially for learning all over the majority world. What we have sown by rolling it out over the entire educational system in Madagascar, at seminaries far away in the countryside and without broadband connection and sufficient textbooks and libraries, will be reaped by Malagassy teachers in a year or two, when a new kind of learners graduate and make a difference in the Lutheran Church of Madagascar. Similar crops can be harvested in other countries in Africa and Asia.
However, it is impossible to know how and when, and even if PLOTLearner will spread. For all software there is a law of the economy of attention – if even the best software is not known, it will not make an impact on the market. In our case the law of the free and open gift of attention also applies, just as in the case of communicating the good news of the free grace in the gospel. The message will only spread through learners who become teachers in the lives of other learners.
For Africa, the only current plan is that my teaching assistant Christian Højgaard Jensen is plannig to go to Madagascar to teach for five month in the Fall of 2014.
I do hope, however, that at some point I will be able to offer a two week course for Hebrew teachers in Africa, and that other countries and churches will discover the potential in PLOTLeaner. I believe that the lessons learned in Madagascar can be applied everywhere, and I hope that good news will eventually spread.
Providing 40 stationary PCs and 6 laptops as well as the SESB software was a great gift for us for the project in Madagascar. Furthermore, Dr. Isabella Lieutaud, from Paris donated 9 copies of her French introductory Hebrew grammar. This grammar is now being used by PhD Candidate Olivier Randrianjaka, SALT and School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger, Norway for intensive courses.
My own teaching assistant pastor Tiana Andriamapandry is now the faciliatar for Hebrew learning through PLOTLearner in Madagascar and will be helping students at SALT in the Spring. In the Fall of 2014 he and Christian Højgaard will explore the learning progress and outcomes of students learning through PLOTLearner.
My most immediate plans for the Spring are to collaborate with Dr Randall Tan who will be teaching at Malaysia Baptist Theological Seminary. We will explore new modes of collaboration among faciliatators in order to explore how the technology can support Hebrew language learning for learners in Aasia. I am in contact with outher colleagues, but no concrete plans are made.
I am now in contact with an American provider of Windows MultiPoint Servers operating in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Ethiopia, and also would want to serve Madagascar. The company offers a state of the art learning environment which “sustainably bridge the digital divide” with top quality computer workstations at a fraction of the cost of conventional PCs.
My vision is that there in due time will be funding for projects to offer learning of Biblical languages and interpretation based on the Scriptures in all the rural seminaries with no other way to improve the learning. He also wants to help in Madagascar, if we at some point get the opportunity to fund a new stage in our PLOTLeaner Fihavanana, but obviously these kinds of sustainalble projects could be implement everywhere.
In orther words, PLOTLeaner and Bible Online Learner is slowly growing as an expanding open technology with strong persuasive force.