Sunday, 26 July 2009

Learning - by doing the website

I realise my LearnByDoing blog has been badly neglected of late. I certainly have not stopped learning by doing, and I have not stopped reflecting on what I am learning - but at present I cannot prioritise blogging about what I am learning. However I want to make a few quick notes about what I am doing - even if I cannot also write about what I am learning in the process.

I am working with Andy Broomfield and Ryan Cartwright on Dadamac's webpresence. This isn't "just a website". It is also an attempt to pull together all kind of things that are currently scattered across the internet. These are things that relate to work John Dada and I have done in the past, and are doing now (together and separately).

In my mind the Dadamac website will be the virtual equivalent of a reception area in a physical building, and the physical building in question would be the head office of our organisation - Dadamac. I want this "head office" to connect up with all the things related to Dadamac elsewhere on the Internet - all the Dadamac online meetings and emails and so on that relate to present and past projects. So the "front end" of our website will need to connect up with the new structures we are gradually putting in place behind the scenes for our present projects, and all of this will help us to be effective and able to grow with confidence. If all goes well it will also bring in new people, and help them to choose defined areas of work where they can work as independently and proactively as they choose. When that happens it should mark the end of me being an information bottle-neck. I look forward to widening my areas of interest and active involvement again in all kinds of related activities that have been neglected of late while I have been focussing on structure rather than new ideas and interests.

In a way all the Dadamac interactions and archives currently scattered around the Internet are a bit like the work done in annexes or in the branch offices of an organisation. In fact much of the content I put on this blog last year was put here as a tempoarary measure, because "the right Dadamac online space" was not ready. Of course in the physical world there are reasons to spread across various locations, and stay spread out, and it is true that in Dadamac we are situated physically in various places, some very far distant from others. But in the virtual world the head office and branch offices can be located in the same virtual space, so that everyone can easily connect with each other and know what is happening, and it is our virtual space that I am working on. However, just like in the physical world it takes time and effort to create a new space, move into it, and get everything working effectively.

This explanation probably makes little sense at present, but perhaps it will after the webpresence is fully functional in the way I imagine it - probably through a slow, gradual, unfolding at first, then speeding up when it is big enough to interest and attract new people and other resources.

Monday, 11 May 2009

IT46 and the mast at Fantsuam

Mark Charmer from Akvo has been asking me for more "history" from Fantsuam, so I thought I'd dig around for something about the mast:

I went to the website of IT46 - a Swedish-based IT consultancy company with a vision: knowledge transfer to recipients to promote social change - which enabled the mast to be erected.

On the front page there was a photo relating to Fantsuam (someone giving a presentation about the mast there). A larger version is at where you can see three good photos and these key points

  • Local materials
  • Local skills
I did a search for Fantsuam and found nineteen search results - telling the story of the mast.

The URL below is a direct link to my search results.


The latest entry (with photo) was about storm damage on April 24th:
Ochuko Oneberhie from Fantsuam reported that during a heavy rain storm,the wind bent the
tower from the top. In the course of its fall one of the legs was uprooted from the ground with the foundation.
Several buildings including the old network operation center, a Cisco Laboratory and a neighboring building has been seriously damaged. No
human casualty or injury was involved.

Partners of IT46 are:

bullet2 SIDA - The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agencybullet2 APC - The Association for Progressive Communications
bullet2 University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzaniabullet2 Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)
bullet2 Unidade Técnica de Implementação da Polí­tica de Informáticabullet2 International Development Research Centre
bullet2 The Swedish Program for Information and Communication Technology in Developing Regionsbullet2 European Commission - IST
bullet2 DSV -Department of Computer and Systems Sciencesbullet2 UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
bullet2 Olof Palme International Centerbullet2 CICAT - TU Delft
bullet2 Al Akhawayn University Ifranebullet2 Meraka Institute
bullet2 Schoolnet NAbullet2 Cygate

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Africa Gathering report from LIDC

I failed to blog about Africa Gathering and so I am delighted to find this full report published by the London International Development Centre LIDC

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Some fun Internet connections and networking

The Internet makes for some light-hearted, unexpected networking. The email I have copied below refers to two of Steve Thompson's projects - one on second life, and one that linked UK children with children in Africa and India. I just sent this email to the PRADSA group (where Steve posted his request for help) and to a friend of mine in Italy, a potential helper for Steve. I know the Italian friend and the PRADSA group F2F - but would not have known either without first happening to connect with them through online communities of interest.
Hi M - can you help us? This Youtube is quite fun to see, it is not long, and it is in Italian. It refers to some community work Steve Thompson did on Second Life with the community at Skiningrove - but he doesn't know what the Italian voice over is saying.

There is a chance you will recognise Steve's name as his People and Place project last year was mentioned on LearningFromEachOther. People and Place linked children in UK to children from places we know (initially just the Children's Computer Club at Fantsuam - then more locations joined in). There were children from two schools in the UK - one of them from the community shown in SecondLife on Youtube. (more about Steve and People and Place from an earlier blog post),

Hi Steve

This is a brilliant link - congratulations!

ref your message to the PRADSA group "I just chanced upon this. (snip) what are they

I am blind copying this to a friend in Italy. I imagine you would appreciate even a brief explanation of who made the video clip, and for what audience.


Fola, ICT studies and skill survey.

Fola is a teacher in an exceedingly rural location in Oyo State - a little village in the bush (more about Fola and how we met). We are discussing how to help him continue his ICT studies.

Hi Fola

I am replying to your letter (and Ricardo's) not just through the Self Directed Learner's Group - but also on my blog, so I can easily share some of this ongoing story with other people.

You are looking at ways to continue your ICT studies, and Ricardo has found out about relevant distance learning courses at the Nigerian OU(Open University). I wonder if anyone has experience of Nigerian OU to share? Distance learning is a great way to continue studying.

I have experience of UK OU and recommend it very highly. In fact it was my OU studies which gave me the confidence to be a self-directed learner on the Internet. My own involvement with computers and ICT came as a spin off from the foundation course that I had to do at the start of my OU degree studies.

I am in favour of a SDL approach to developing your skills as well as formal courses. In addition to my formal studies I learned about the use of ICT through practical projects. These practical projects were things that I wanted to find out for myself, with no-one to teach me, or fund me, or to accredit my work. I hope you will do practical self directed work as well as formal studies.

I know that you are already competent in many aspects of ICT use. I know too that you are involved with the Info Centre at Ago-Are and I recall that you and I first met through Pastor David ("PD" - manager of the InfoCentre at Ago-Are) because of the way he and I connect on Teachers Talking and the Info Centre at Ago-Are).

I think you are a man who understands the difference between firm plans and visions/dreams about the way we hope to go. If you do understand this difference than I can share some dreams with you, even though they are not yet firm plans. I mean there is no big money to move these ideas along - it is just hopes and ideas at present! But if we share our dreams it helps us to encourage each other and to take small steps in the same direction.

My hope and dream is that the InfoCentre at Ago-Are will gradually grow (taking ideas from Fantsuam Foundation, the Knowledge Resource Centre, and Dadamac) and that you, PD and I will help to make this happen.

Already there is a good long history of trust, collaboration, sharing of skills and knowledge, etc between us all - you, me, PD, John Dada and Kazanka Comfort (General Secretary of Fantsuam Foundation).
  • I was first at Ago-Are in 2000 (before the InfoCentre started)
  • John and Comfort first came to Ago-Are when I was there in 2004. We already knew each other. I remember that I had brought some learning resources from the UK for the InfoCentre and John and Comfort were able to take copies for use at Fantsuam - so there has been overlap of training between FF and Ago-Are for many years!
  • PD was already closely connected with the Info Centre by 2004.
  • Later PD attended one of my TT (Teachers Talking) courses at Fantsuam Foundation, and shared some of that knowledge afterwards with teachers at various locations in Oyo State.
  • You and I met through PD and last year you came up to FF for the Self Directed Learners (SDL) course.
From a resources and skills point of view you and PD have considerable ICT knowledge and experience - especially regarding the practicalities of ICT in rural areas. Your experience is even more valuable because what you have done has been driven largely by local determination! I want to find ways to tell your story and build on it. I know you are working independently but you have strong links with the InfoCentre.

I know that the Info-Centre at Ago-Are had a short taste of being connected to the Interenet when there was the COL/IITA/OCDN project (Comonwealth of Learning, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Oke-Ogun Community Development Network project). Before that the centre had the equipment that David Mutua had managed to get through VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), for off-line training and use. I was not able to get down to Oyo State during my last trip, but I did visit the InfoCentre the time before (as you know because we happened to be there at the same time), and at that time (2007) the InfoCentre was continuing to do the kind of work it had done before the Internet connection. I hope it is still continuing in the same way, but I know there have been many changes in people's lives recently. Perhaps you would update me.

Now - I am wondering if there is some way that I can help you to move on in your skills, that would also benefit the InfoCentre? Is there some little practical ICT project we can think of related to the InfoCentre that would also help you to develop your skills (and PD's too if he is interested) ?

To begin with we need to do a kind of inventory of our skills and resources (the details will not be for sharing on the blog as some of that information may be personal or private).

Something that I want to do with Dadamac Self Directed Learners (SDLs) in future is to improve the way that we continue to work together online, not just F2F (Face to Face). I would like to start by developing a skill survey of all the skills that the Dadamac online SDLs need to have in order to work online effectively. (I'll probably call them "Dadamac Learners" for short.) Personally, I know I do not have all the skills I need yet, so I am happy to include myself as a Dadamac Learner. Perhaps you will help me to build up a list of items we should have on our skill survey. (I might share the outline skill survey on the blog - but not personal skill survey records.)

I hope that later on the skill survey will be a starting point for pople's online learning journeys. I also hope each online Dadamac Learner will have the chance to have a mentor - or learning guide. The mentor will help the learner to consider the direction for his/her personal learning journey and how to take steps in that direction. I know that even though I enjoy being a self-directed learner I find it very helpful when someone helps me to reflect on what I am doing and where I am going.

Perhaps you will be willing to be the first official online Dadamac Learner. Perhaps others in this group will be willing to join in as well.

Let me know if you are interested in becoming a Dadamac Learner and helping me to develop the skill survey. We can also discuss more about your learning journey.



Monday, 23 March 2009

Andrius Kulikauskas, COMMUNIA, and Open Knowledge

My friend Andrius Kulikauskas Director of Minciu Sodas is staying here in preparation for
5th Communia Workshop: Accessing, Using, Reusing Public sector Content and Data (London 26-27/03/09).

The COMMUNIA Thematic Network aims at becoming a European point of reference for theoretical analysis and strategic policy discussion of existing and emerging issues concerning the public domain in the digital environment - as well as related topics, including, but not limited to, alternative forms of licensing for creative material; open access to scientific publications and research results; management of works whose authors are unknown (i.e. orphan works).

Funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus framework, the 3-years long project expects to provide policy guidelines that will help each stakeholder involved - public and private, from the local to the European and global level.

Andrius and others from Minciu Sodas will also be at the Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2009 on Saturday 28th March. OKCon is back for its fourth installment bringing together individuals and groups from across the open knowledge spectrum for a day of discussions workshops. This year the event will feature dedicated sessions on open knowledge and development and on the semantic web and open data. Plus there's the usual substantial allocation of 'Open Space' -- sessions, workshops and discussions proposed either via the CFP or on the day.

The work of Minciu Sodas is described and continuously updated at the
Minciu Sodas Worknets Wiki

Saturday, 21 March 2009

WES - World Entrepreneur Society

Yesterday I attended World Entrepreneur Society 2009 Summit
which I heard about thanks to an email from Steve Moore who I met at 2gether08.
My first contact of the day, before I had even taken my coat off, was Trine Moore. We found an instant shared interest regarding issues around "Be the change" and Attachab Eco-village. My last one was with a group of Kaospilots (the 21st century alternative to being MBA students). The day was full of opportunities to meet new people with interests overlapping my own. I expect some of their names will turn up here (or on the gradually developing Dadamac website) as we explore shared concerns and possible collaborations.

There is already lots of information leading up to the World Entrepreneur Society 2009 Summit and as David Wilcox - social media journalist - was covering the event I am expecting him to be putting up good coverage of what actually went on.