Technology News

John WIshart

M. Ed., B.Sc.

Director of Technology

International School of Dakar

Chromebooks have arrived. ID Badge update

posted Aug 31, 2017, 6:13 AM by

Chromebooks have arrived

At 11:35am today our new 204 chromebooks arrived on campus. ITSO is now unpacking, adding local power plugs, etching, and installing software. What a great Tabaski surprise. Our aim is to distribute middle school devices next Wednesday - Friday. We will then collect white chromebooks from the new HS students and reissue them a new one, using the old white ones for spares. After this we will distribute chromebooks to our grade 4& 5 teachers, and a few days later to our grade4 & 5 students. These elementary chromebooks will not go home, they will stay in the classes for in class use.

These chromebooks are ruggedized, they have rubber edges, reinforced sides,  no slip surfaces. This does not mean they are unbreakable, we still expect careful and responsible use of the Asus C202S chromebooks. They are not touch screen. 

ID Badge update
All new parent badges have been printed, they are at the front desk for pickup. If you did not get one, please come to ITSO - you may require a photo, a check on your name, or be super new. We look forward to seeing you.

All new student badges are now being processed. As they are completed we email the student to collect it from ITSO.

Thank you all for -- wearing your badge on campus, for tapping IN and OUT or for signing IN or OUT. -- and hence making our campus more secure.

New Portal on

posted Aug 17, 2017, 10:45 AM by   [ updated Aug 18, 2017, 1:14 AM by ]

In our effort to improve our information and communication with our community, we have been working on a new portal.

Our external website is a good landing page, but we can not share too much sensitive information on it, such as student names, times and venues of specific events, photos of kids' work or in action, etc.

In the list of's "quick links" on the right hand side of the main page, you will see a link for "Intranet". This will take you to a landing page for Parents, Students, Teachers, and Visitors. As you explore the site, you will encounter a need to login. This restricts our internal data to members of our domain. Shortly we will share an ISD google domain account (an email) that will allow you to view the documents we have for you--and not the entire world. This will allow us to share calendars, classroom updates, and more sensitive information with you more privately.

We invite you to look at the Intranet pages. It is a work in progress and we would like to hear your thoughts.  What would be most useful to you to include in the portal?  Please contact John Wishart ( with any ideas you'd like to share. 

Welcome. ID Badges, Photos

posted Aug 11, 2017, 11:24 AM by

ID Security Badges:   
Security is import to us. Badges hep get you in and out of campus quickly.
If you do not have a badge (forgot/visitor) you will have to sign in & out at the security gate.

Each badge for a family has the same family code on the top left corner, so a driver taking a child will be quickly identified.

Students are expected to 
-wear their badge every day while in school (except playing sports...)
-tap in every time they enter campus (for evening/weekend times as well)
-tap out every time they exit campus

Parents are issued a badge (also your maid/driver if they will collect your child/ren). You get 5 badges (max) per family (more will cost 3,000CFA each)

Parents, Maids, Drivers are expected to:
-wear their badge when on campus
-tap in every time they enter campus (for evening/weekend times as well)
-tap out every time they exit campus

A badge can be used to: check out library books,
A lost badge: costs 3,000CFA to get a new one (payable at Business office). Take your receipt to ITSO to get it reprinted.

Tap in/out:
The badge is sensed by a Radio Frequency Reader.
The sensor is not reading the bar code, so you can TAP with either side of your badge on the sensor, or simply wave the card close to the sensor.
You hear a BEEP and see a GREEN LIGHT when your card is read.
Security can see your card and your photo on their screen as you Tap in/out.
There also is a security camera recording entry/exit.

Note: Some students keep the badge in the side of their bag and TAP their bag to enter.

New Parents/Students Photos:
We have taken most new students photos and are producing their ID Badges.
If you had your photo taken already, please wait for us to email you that it is ready (this may be up to 10 days.
If you have NOT had you photo taken this year, please came to ITSO.

Robotics Competition/ Senegalese Robotics Team

posted Mar 16, 2017, 7:10 AM by Marieme MBAYE   [ updated Mar 17, 2017, 9:44 AM by ISD Communications ]

                            Robotics 2017.jpg
Robotics Competition Saturday at 2:00PM.
This will be a busy weekend. Firstly ISD, and in particular the Robotics Club, are hosting a number of Dakar schools' robotics teams for a Robotics Competition. There will be six seeding rounds followed by a final competition. This will start at 2:00pm on the main stage amphitheater (They will practice in the morning). 
Senegalese Robotics Team
Senegal is a mix of the new and the old. While the capital city, Dakar, has many modern conveniences, it is also plagued by poverty and contamination. The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita is right in the middle of African nations; at $945 per person, it ranks 27th out of 53. But that is something that two mentors and 15 public high school students wish to change for the better. By building interest in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) programs and educating tomorrow’s workforce with modern technology tools, they hope to build a culture of high technology that can help improve the economy of their country.

Team Senebot is the dream of two mentors, Mamadou Gakou, an aviation engineer who has worked both in Senegal and in Dubai, and Ibrahima Thioub, an IT specialist who has always lived and worked in Senegal. On the team are 12 boys and 3 girls who come from a local public technical school here in Dakar. Team Senebot receives support and mentorship from Micah Hall and his Vex Robotics team at the International School of Dakar (ISD). Micah is a technology teacher at the school and founder of Vex team 99660, Mberou Weigne (“Iron Wrestler” in Wolof). He has previously been involved with FIRST FRC Robotics, co-founding Team 4091 in the Dominican Republic. The current ISD Senior Vex team includes 6 boys and 1 girl with an additional 15 students on the Junior Vex team.

Team Senebot is a recent creation. The students and mentors had their first full meeting on January 28, 2017. They meet every Saturday from 9am til 3pm at the International School of Dakar Makerspace and use that time to work with the Vex Robotics materials. The construction and programming will be quite different from the First Global competition. This challenge gives the students the opportunity to learn the skillset and mindset of engineering and programming that will carry through with the later builds. The Senior Vex team from ISD helps with mentoring the Senebot students through the process. Team Senebot has currently divided into two teams with each being tasked to design and build a robot for this year’s Vex competition, “Starstruck”. They both will be competing in a local Vex competition with the two teams from ISD on March 18.

Our non-robot goal right now is fund-raising. The students and mentors have put together an informational letter that they are delivering to local businesses. Additionally, several teachers and parents of students at ISD have volunteered in feeding the students working at the school on Saturdays. The idea of “teranga” and sharing is an important part of Senegalese culture. The public school students and ISD students share this meal together, usually in the traditional way around one big platter, as a way of bonding and team-building.

So far, we have already had a few donations of money toward this project, but we hope that is only the beginning as we go forward. What we are asking for from the ISD community is to show our Teranga with additional donations of food and/or money. This will help support our students in growing intellectually, socially, and culturally.

Please help in whatever way you can.

Thanks for your support,

Digital Training for Parents: How to Support Your Student and Yourself in the Digital Age

posted Mar 3, 2017, 6:15 AM by   [ updated Mar 5, 2017, 1:07 AM by ]

Dear Parents,

Many of you have requested more information about operating appropriately in the digital realm as well as supporting your students in their academic pursuits.

The Tech Team at ISD would like to offer a one hour training session to address those needs. The training will be offered on two different days to accommodate our parent’s various schedules.

Thursday March 16th @ 5-6 PM
Saturday March 18th @ 10-11 AM
Room: Library

Please fill out the form below if you are interested in this training. If you are unable to attend either session, please provide your email address and after the event we will send Parent Resources to all of those who sign up.

Also, let us know what you are interested in learning. We would be happy to tailor our training to best suit the needs of our parents. Include your topics of interest on the Parent Interest Form.

Parent Interest Form:

Hope to see you at the training.

ISD Teach Team

Robotics in Dakar and at ISD

posted Feb 3, 2017, 4:34 AM by

ISD's robotics team had amazing service learning going on Tuesday the 28th of January.  We had 21 Senegalese public high school students on campus to learn from our robotics team about building and programming a robot.  Our students did an awesome job and even conducted some impromptu courses.  From giving speeches about the importance of STEAM to taking over the projector and giving programming lessons, our kids did great.  Kudos to Brittney and Denrol, who gave up some of their weekend time to help (and teach) this.  And a special kudos to Ibrahima Thioub (IT) for his role as mentor along with Mamadou Gacke (not ISD).   Not only will these teams compete with ours in our local competition, but they will als
o bebuilding a robot and sendinga representative team to Washington, DC in July to compete in the first ever International Robot Olympics.  These are the things that remind me why I chose teaching as a profession:  seeing ones that I have helped now helping others. 

Now is where I get to the help we need.  We need sponsors.  Ideally, we would like to get some businesses, governmental organizations, or other groups to help us with our needs.  First, we will need to raise money for the passport costs and visa application fees for the travelling Senegalese team.  These students have few resources and would likely be unable to complete the process without our help.  The actual travel and lodging costs will be covered by the sponsoring organization, FIRST Robotics.  Second, we will need support help during the build season.  Specifically, we are working every Saturday 9-3 and I would like to provide lunch to the working team.  These kids come from a background where it would be highly unlikely that they would be able to buy lunch.  I could ask them to bring something, but I can't guarantee that a few of them wouldn't end up not eating.  If we could get a different restaurant, individual, family, or group to each sponsor one weekend, that would be a great start to fueling these students education. 

Any ideas or suggestions, please send my way, 
or to the ISD robotics' captain, Ali Ka 
or our business manager, Ermelinda Izhihirwe

Read more about the program here

​Many thanks,

Micah Hall,         Technology Integration Specialist  

Screen time for kids

posted Jan 20, 2017, 7:51 AM by   [ updated Jan 21, 2017, 3:11 AM by ]

 Photo Credit ExpectGrain
Parents and Educators are concerned about students spending too much time front of “screens.” 
Screens include, but are not limited to, TVs, computers, tablets, and smartphones.

In the past too much time in front of the screen was considered to be bad.

But new guidelines released last Fall by the American Academy of Pediatrics makes distinctions between types of activities.

CNN reports that using devices for entertainment is considered different from using them for homework. The latter should not be considered in total screen time for the day.  

Please read the specifics of each article, but the general guidelines are as follows:

  • Infants 18 months and younger: No screen time

  • Children 2 to 5 years: One hour per day

  • Children 6 years and older: Limit digital media

Students of older ages need to ensure they get adequate exercise and sleep. Binge watching TV or binge playing video games should be discouraged.

Some ISD students report to teachers that they often watch TV and play videogames for up to 10 to 12 hours a day on the weekends and holidays.

We adults need to pull ourselves away from our devices (yes, we are guilty too) and better monitor our children for their own health. We often condone our own use under the guise of ‘work.’ If we are to be role models and healthy ourselves, we need to also unplug and engage our children in alternative activities.

Common Sense Media has some more ideas and FAQs on their Screen Time page.

Another good resource for more information is the Parent's Guide to Internet Safety. It covers many more topics and provides ideas for parents.

Kevin Leinbach, IT coordinator

Photo Credit ExpectGrain

Happy holidays to all

posted Dec 16, 2016, 8:51 AM by

If you are traveling I wish you safe steps. Remember to take your adaptors for power sockets and more importantly watch that your device plug is of the correct voltage (110V/220V).

Here is a free Christmas present: check out 
    Finding your laptop or your phone stolen is a sad thing, but there is something you can do about it. 
    Prey is a lightweight anti theft protection software that helps you recover them if ever lost or stolen.
Free and Paid plans depending on devices

Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year

Phone System & Badges

posted Nov 23, 2016, 7:01 AM by

Phone System:   Have you tried calling the school and not got through?
Most people worry that the system is broken and not working.
Our analog phone system is not broken, it is simply overloaded.

Yesterday we discovered an error in the programming through a consultant. We now have 2 dedicated inbound lines, this should reduce our "busy"/no answers.
We actually have 6 lines; 2 were 'dedicated' to inbound calls, but the system was in fact using them for outbound as well, this caused our "busy"/no answers.

ISD is committed to improving communications. We are looking at implementing a digital phone system to address increased calls.

If any parent has experience in this realm, please contact me as we explore our options.

ID Security Badges:   These are now out to all HS students. MS students will receive theirs after the break. Students are expected to 
-wear their badge every day while in school (except playing sports...)
-tap in every time you enter campus (for evening/weekend times as well)
-tap out every time you enter campus (for evening/weekend times as well)

If students forget their badge they will have to sign in/out on the student book at security gate.
The badge can be used in the library as before to check out books

If anyone loses the badge it costs 3,000CFA to get a new one

The badge only needs to be near the Radio Frequency Reader, for it to be sensed. You hear a BEEP and see a GREEN LIGHT.
The sensor is not reading the bar code, so you can TAP with either side.
Some students keep the badge in the side of their bag and TAP their bag to enter.

When you tap in/out, security can see your card and your photo on their screen.

ID Badges & ISD Parent emails

posted Nov 11, 2016, 8:34 AM by   [ updated Nov 11, 2016, 8:41 AM ]

ID Badges
Badge printing really is taking place. It is slow to do as we search for past photos for parents to create the new badges.
New parents are all done, staff are all done, as are new helper/driver badges.
If you have had you photo taken this year and not yet got your parent badge, please drop by ITSO (bring your old badge) it should be ready for you.
If you have NOT had you photo taken this year, it would speed things up if you came to ITSO to get photographed.

12th grade students now have their ID Badges and are expected to wear them while on campus, They also need to TAP in and out each time they enter or leave. If they forget their badge they will be required to sign in and out. Students should use the badge for evening and weekend events as well.

If you misplace/lose your badge it will cost 3,000 cfa (payable at Business office). Bring receipt for re-issue to ITSO.

ISD Parent emails
We have created these for each parent. 
They follow a pattern: First.Last.FamilyID       e.g.   John.Wishart.14007
We will be sending you your login information this weekend.

Why another email?  We created a google account for you to access our google domain resources securely. It allows us to share dates and times with our community without having to post this data publicly. You will be able to securely access google drive documents shared with parents, see calendars, and join in-house google classrooms that teachers maybe using soon for home-school communications. It is the email login that gives you access to our domain.

Do I have to use the email?  No. We will continue to send mail to both your personal account AND this parent account. You could also redirect any ISD mail to your account so you do not have to open it.

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