“Who’s got the Raspberry Pie guys?”
“Have you fixed Dataliscious?”
“Is Tangerine good?”
If you overheard a conversation from the Axium Tech Team your stomach might be excused for rumbling. While Raspberry Pies, Dataliscious and Tangerine may sound like ingredients to a tasty fruit salad, they are in fact the names of a few of the tools our Tech Team uses to innovate efficient solutions for the work we do at Axium.
The Tech Team’s mission is to “magnify the impact of Axium’s Staff and Programs through effective and efficient tech solutions”. Lihle Mpapela, Tech Team Manager, explains it this way: “Our work involves making the work of all teams at Axium easier and helping programs perform at their best.” Lindokuhle Magagula, Technical Support Assistant, adds: “Your needs come first to us; if you have a problem, you just say it and we come with a solution.”
The most important work that the Tech Team does focuses on data. Education work involves a lot of information that needs to be recorded. For example: keeping track of marks from assessments, attendance, homework, library and textbook systems. All of this tracking requires a system that needs a lot of care and maintenance. Perhaps more important than capturing and storing data is the visualisation of the data in a way that helps to analyse trends, measure the impact of our Programs and set goals and targets for the future.
Charl van der Merwe, our Data Analyst, helped unpack some of the complexities that make gathering data in rural education contexts challenging. These include limited internet availability, inadequate security infrastructure at schools to house technology, limited exposure to technology for our learners resulting in difficult data-capturing processes and of course the finances required to purchase and maintain equipment. However, the can-do attitude of the Tech Team means that these challenges also present unique opportunities for constant innovation from the Team, which requires developing technological infrastructure and tweaking and researching ways to make free and open source software work for Axium’s needs.
Along with improving the impact of our own programs, our data has the potential to contribute towards a broader discussion about education in rural contexts. Collecting and curating high quality data means we can help contribute towards painting clearer pictures. Through visualisation we can make information accessible about what is and isn’t working and why that might be the case. While we are still in the early phases of building our “data contribution”, it has enormous potential to complement our deeper, relational work in schools.
So, with our trusted Tech ‘ingredients’, each week our teams can record and analyse their data. Using these systems to make informed decisions we can continue to improve our work and magnify our impact.
 Raspberry Pie is a mobile server that can be taken out of the office and used to collect data which is then later synced into our main server.
 Dataliscious is the application developed and maintained by our Tech Team which enables us to capture and store data on our server for our Masakhane and Ekukhuleni teams.
 Tangerine is a data capturing tool used for the EGRA and EGMA tests administered by our Nobalisa team.
 Data capturing tools: Tangerine, Google Sheets and Datalicious; Data storage tools: Owncloud and Shared Docs; Data analysis tools: BI Desktop