Founded in 2012, the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) aims to promote innovative research, collaboration, and communication among member universities and other institutions across Africa and worldwide. One part of this mission is achieved through the many practical services the organization offers, such as the creation and maintenance of digital network infrastructure and the provision of network applications like videoconferencing. Another part is fulfilled through NgREN’s facilitation of targeted, online community forums.
NgREN’s Communities of Practice are designed to bring together people with common expertise on a particular topic or theme in the hopes of advancing professional practices and spurring development in specific areas. By fostering links and active collaboration among institutions and other academic and professional groups worldwide, the communities can help participants to centralize and grow their knowledge base and visualize key matters within a broader context.
To launch this element of its mission, NgREN selected a number of strategic communities to serve as the initial group. These encompass areas such as food security, environmental degradation, renewable energy, and vocational training. Interested participants can join any Community of Practice by contacting the topic leader or NgREN directly.
Recently, the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) hosted VCE, a joint venture of the leading tech firms EMC Corporation and Cisco Systems, for a presentation on Vblock Systems, its cloud storage technology portfolio. VCE visited NgREN’s network monitoring center to discuss data center development, proposing Vblock’s cloud architecture as a possible data organization solution. The company presented the cloud storage technology and its numerous benefits, citing the simplicity and efficiency of data virtualization. VCE also noted that Vblock integrates with popular computing and network technologies by Cisco, EMC, and VMware, offering a comprehensive suite of data management resources.
VCE drew on statistics compiled by the International Data Corporation to support its recommendation. The organization recently concluded that Vblock allows for significantly accelerated data center deployment times and can greatly reduce operational and incidental maintenance costs. In addition to decreasing overall costs by as much as half, Vblock innovation has been known to reduce data center downtime by 96 percent.
Planning is underway for an initiative that could transform the digital literacy landscape for women and girls in Africa. Last spring, discussions took place at the United Nations regarding Intel She Will Connect, a new program developed by the technology company and its partners that aims to expand the digital literacy skills of millions of young women in Africa over the next three years.
The idea for the program sprang directly from the findings documented in Women and the Web, a report commissioned by Intel in consultation with UN Women, the women’s global network World Pulse, and the Office of Global Women’s Issues of the U.S. State Department. The report revealed that in developing countries, an average of 25 percent fewer women than men have access to and use the Internet, with the largest gap of all – 43 percent – occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. Given the huge economic, professional, and social value of the Internet, this digital gender gap can have serious consequences for women, both on a personal level and in terms of global women’s empowerment.
Intel She Will Connect plans to bridge this gap through an innovative combination of digital literacy and skills training, including gender-relevant content, and an online peer support network. The program will launch first in sub-Saharan Africa, with initial pilots set to take place in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. The program’s goal is to connect with 5 million young women in the region by 2016.
Cambridge-Hitachi offers a number of services to support corporate social responsibility initiatives in the education sector, assisting with marketing, educational materials, and live presentations and events. The organization has served such prominent clients as British Formula One racing team Williams F1. The team sought Cambridge-Hitachi’s expertise to create instructional resources that would support its educational outreach initiatives, aiming to develop a unique curriculum surrounding F1 racing.
Titled Race to Learn, Cambridge-Hitachi’s solution caters to students aged 9 to 11 and is designed to appeal to both girls and boys. The resource also serves students of varying learning styles and abilities. At the start of the lesson, students gather into small groups to form collaborative racing teams. Students then work together to complete a variety of tasks, expanding their knowledge in science, math, and literacy while developing teamwork skills. The teams explore the nature and importance of air resistance and design their own F1 cars. They also learn to balance a budget and prepare a pitch to garner sponsorship.
In addition to winning the 2010 BETT Award for Primary Digital Content, Race to Learn received commendation from the primary education publication Teach Primary!, earning a 10/10 rating. The resource has reached more than 2,000 primary schools as a curriculum adopted by the London Grid for Learning and Randstad Education.