Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Update - LearnByDoing Session with Trainerspod on 29th November 2007

Registration for the LearnByDoing session with Trainerspod is now open.
For more information and to register please click here - please register.
Date: Thursday 29th November 2007
Time: 15:00 GMT - 17:00 GMT (Arrive at 14:30 for tutorial on Elluminate). Please go to WorldClocks to confirm your time zone.
Venue: On-line!
Topic: ICT and Education in Africa - Practicalities in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana.
Prince Obiri-Mainoo and I (Pamela McLean) will be discussing our plans and experiences related to ICT and education in Africa.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Chats past and Trainserspod future

Chats catch-up
This is written in haste. My intention was to edit down some chats we have had, to make them more "reader friendly". I also wanted to tell about a discussion that Andrius Kulikauskus and I had about the group dynamics of our chat sessions and the benefits and disadvantages of various approaches. However - time has been against me for that, so for now I am simply
mentioning that chats have been continuing, and we do definitely LearnByDoing .

Thursday 29th November
Looking ahead. The next LearnByDoing (LBD) session with TrainersPod is scheduled for Thursday 29th November. Prince Obiri-Mainoo and I (Pamela McLean) will be discussing our plans and experiences related to ICT and education in Africa. Prince and I e-met recently, at a TrainersPod webinar. We discovered overlapping interests because of Prince's ICT training work in USA and Ghana, and mine with rural teachers in Nigeria and Kenya.

This session is going to be participative and very much about practicalities. People who join the session will be encouraged to ask questions and share their own experiences of ICT and education in Africa. I, for one, am intending to learn a lot from the discussion - and I hope others will too.

You can register your interests and comment at the LBD section at Cawdnet Campus. Find out more by clicking here.

The first Thursday and the last Friday
The usual time for LBD meetings in the chat room is 13.00 GMT on the first Thursday of the month. The Teachers Talking Kenya group also try to get to the chat room during their monthly meetings - we are trying to learn how to raise some money for them, to help cover their travel and online expenses. If anyone has any ideas do please let us know. (You can paste a comment here - or email info@cawd.net)

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Teachers Talking From Rural Kenya

On Friday September 28th twenty teachers in rural Kenya left their schools early and traveled to Holy Rosary Secretarial College, Tala, where they gathered around the only computer that was online.

At home in the UK I was sitting at my laptop, logged in to the worknet chat room waiting for them.

The teachers were participants from the Teachers Talking (TT) Kenya course - and in August I had been in Kenya teaching them. I have published an edited down version of our chat here.

This TT Kenya initial programme is a COL / CAWD collaboration and consists of a one week course followed by monthly meetings for six months. Before I left Kenya the participants and I had agreed to try and meet in a chat room, next time they were online. We want to continue working together even though we are at a distance - the chat is part of that.

Our chat is about the practicalities of ICT training for teachers in rural Africa - not in theory, but in real life. We were joined in the chat room by a Kenyan living in Sweden, and a Nigerian, still in Nigeria, who had helped me to present TT there.

Please share the chat as widely as you can. The twenty people clustered around that one computer in Tala are experts regarding education in rural Kenya - they are practitioners. They are ready, willing and able to use the Internet in their own professional development, and to share what they know with their colleagues and their communities. Just imagine what a power for change they could be if they could get online more than a couple of hours once a month.

I don't know where to go to get the resources they need to build on their initial knowledge and enthusiasm - but maybe if this information circulates far enough some organisations will be able to help them. Alternatively we could "pass the hat" and collect donations from individuals through CAWD. (To direct an on-line donation to a specific CAWD project, simply name the project in the "personal message" box.)

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

The first LearnByDoing audiographic e-meeting was held on 2nd August 2007 through Trainerspod

The first LearnByDoing audiographic e-meeting was held on 2nd August 2007 through Trainerspod. It was a "foundation laying" e-meeting, where I (Pam) shared ideas for running a regular LearnByDoing virtual group. The main ideas are on a PowerPoint presentation which can be seen via Google Docs or at the Trainerspod archives where (after creating an account) you can also listen in to our meeting and see what we wrote in the chat box etc.

The proposed structure of the meeting was along these lines:-

  • Informal chat
  • Introduction to using audiographic conferencing


  • Chairman's introduction
  • Outline of proposed LearnByDoing series
    > Structure of meetings
    > Roles and responsibilities
    > Focus of LearnByDoing
  • Meeting topic
    > ICT for Education and Development - "Three-legged stool" checklist
  • Future planning


  • Informal discussions and networking

I won't write the meeting up as "minutes" because the archive is available, so this will be a personal account to give you a flavour of what went on.

Altogether fifteen of us gathered through Trainerspod - which I felt was a good number for the initial meeting of a club, or group, which will gradually establish its identity and grow. I was pleased to find a balance of people I was e-meeting for the first time and people that I already knew (F2F or virtually).

I think it is worth looking briefly at the geographical spread of the participants, as I am hoping that as the group grows the LearnByDoing (LBD) participants will come from a mixture of countries representing a variety of cultures. The people who I met for the first time had probably been invited by Asif Daya of Trainerspod and seemed to be in the USA. Those of us not in the USA were from three European countries, and there was also one very welcome participant from India, who had discovered the meeting by coming across the blog. Although LBD is rooted in practical experience in rural Africa, there is a great overlap between work in Africa and work in India, so an exchange of ideas and experience will be most welcome.

Grass roots projects in Africa were represented by Caroline Ifeka and me. Caroline is based in Nigeria but has roots in the UK, and was staying over here. I live in the UK but am involved in practical work in Nigeria and Kenya. Our friends in Africa who rely on cyber cafes were not able to attend, but we are exploring ways to include them as much as possible. They find it easier to be involved in our complementary e-meetings at the Minciu Sodas chat room, and our yahoo group LearningFromEachOther.

Kabissa was represented by Chioma Oruh. This was exciting for me, because way back in 2003 Kabissa helped me to start an online newsletter about a tiny project I was involved with, in rural Nigeria. Kabissa's work of making ICT more easily accessible to community groups in Africa was well known and initially I felt a bit intimidated about approaching Kabissa, but we were welcomed. When our little newsletter was launched I felt a double benefit. There was the obvious practical benefit of having an online newsletter. Equally important was a sense of belonging, acceptance, approval, because Kabissa had "allowed us in". I am hoping that the future direction of the LBD group will be influenced by Kabissa's vision, experience and network.

I don't know everyones full names, so I will have to refer to some people by the identities used in the chat room.

Our meeting also benefited from input from Mireille and her practical suggestions about relevant uses of ICT, which included the site http://www.zoho.com/; http://www.google.com/; and http://www.slideshare.com/. I hope we will explore these in practise as we LearnByDoing.

Sasha, Maria and Repyke looked forward to exchanging practical information, including on-the-ground projects related to livelihoods. This is certainly the kind of thing I hope we will be able to do, once we have established our LBD group. At first, while we are establishing ourselves, and "settling in" to our audiographic e-meeting space, it is probably best to focus on topics that address some of the challenges of e-meeting. E-groups have many similarities with Face to Face groups. When they are running smoothly it all looks deceptively simple - but first they have to be set up to run smoothly - and that is the stage we are at now.

We did not get around to agreeing the topic for our next meeting, but we can discuss and arrange that through the LearningFromEachOther and I will try to get an outline agenda agreed and posted here before our next audio-graphic e-meeting.

Since the initial meeting I have been to Kenya for the local launch of Teachers Talking. The participants are keen to get involved with people and information through the Internet. They hope to visit the Minciu Sodas chat room on Friday 28th September at 3.30pm Kenyan time 1.30pm GMT. They are very limited in their opportunities to get online. How can we best help them to benefit from the riches of the Internet during the precious times when they are connected? I hope we will discuss some of the related issues at our next LearnByDoing audiographic e-meeting on Thursday 29th November 2007.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

LearnByDoing Session 2 - August 2nd 2007

The session topic was: "Evidence Evidence Evidence!" - How we use photos and video to share our stories

For evidence of how people in Minciu Sodas are moving on in their ability to share photos and video see the session archives. There are also recent contributions to YouTube by the School for Acrobats in Kibera and by Samuel Kongere. Links from the session two archives are collected together on the right hand side navigation bar.

Review Structure
I'll use the "Three Legged Stool Checklist" for a quick review of the meeting:
  • Information
  • Communication/People-with-a-purpose
  • The Technology
  • ICT-for-What?
  • Information - The information exchanged can be seen by going to the archives of the e-meeting. You will see all the chat and there are various links contributed by the participants.

  • Communication - The "people with a purpose" - The people who wanted to discuss this topic had emerged through various Minciu Sodas discussion threads and also through FaceBook. In the event not all were able to attend, but those who missed out will be able to see the report and we can hold a follow-up meeting for them later.
  • More about the people - I was encouraged to see the mixture of people at our meeting this month - some "core members" and some newcomers. From memory I think we were eleven people including five newcomers. People joined in from India, Korea, Lithuania, Serbia, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, UK and USA. Three other potential participants, two from Kenya and one from Nigeria also tried to attend, but sadly techie glitches kept them out. We also had some apologies. If I have missed anyone out please let me know so I can edit my mistakes.
  • The Technology - The meeting was held at chat room. You are welcome to drop into the chat room at any time. See the session 2 archives for other technologies involved during the e-meeting.

  • ICT for What? - As usual we were looking at using the chat room effectively, as well as considering the session topic.
    • We are getting more accustomed to our structure of informal networking at the start and finish, with a central more structured session.
    • Many thanks to Sasha for acting as chairman and for agreeing to take the chair again in September.
    • Next time we will also try to have a "latecomers steward" to whisper a welcome to latecomers and help them settle in without disturbing the flow of the meeting. Fred has accepted that role if he is able to attend.
    • Regular attendees at the LearnByDoing sessions are getting in the habit of choosing their own text colour, which makes it easier to follow who is saying what.
    • We are developing an Instant Introductions page, which helps to speed up the process of people getting to know each other.
    • We are learning other details like how to turn auto-scroll on and off, and how to make better use of the area around the main chat screen.
    • It begins to feel as if we are "moving in" to the chat room, as a regular e-meeting space for what I think of as the "LearnByDoing Club."

Open invitation to our e-meetings and future dates
LearnByDoing e-meetings are usually held on the first Thursday of the month. Given our varied time zones, no time is perfect - but 13.30 GMT seems to work fairly well. Times of future sessions may vary depending on what best suits the key participants. There is an open invitation to people who would like to attend.

Our next LearnByDoing e-meeting in the chat room will be on Thursday 6th September 2007.

Before that, on Thursday August 16th we plan our first LearnByDoing e-meeting at Trainerspod, using Elluminate. We will be exploring the best way to use audio-graphic conferencing, with a view to holding regular e-meetings at both locations (chat room and Trainerspod) in the New Year.

Monday, 30 July 2007

E-meeting - August 2nd "Evidence, evidence, evidence!" - How we use photos and video to share our stories.

Our next e-meeting at chat room is planned for Thursday August 2nd 2007 at 2.30 pm London Time (1.30 GMT. Please click here to check your timezone.) It will be a chat room meeting. The theme is "Evidence, evidence, evidence!" - How we use photos and video to share our stories.

As usual we will start off with some informal "meeting-and-greeting", before the main session, and there will be opportunities for informal networking afterwards.

There has been a lot of discussion at LearningFromEachOther, Mendenyo, and Facebook, about how we share grass-roots evidence with bandwidth-rich communities. Our grass-roots groups face great problems getting online and achieve a major triumph if they manage to join in online discussion using text. By contrast our bandwidth rich contacts (and potential contacts) are accustomed to multi-media.

  • How do we cross the culture-gaps and and communication gaps?

  • How far have we progressed and what are the main issues we face at present?

  • How do we move forward?

ICT4D Checklist
I will use my ICT4D "three-legged stool" checklist to review our progress.

Checklist item 1 - Information
We have a lots of information:

  • Information that Samwel has collected on his camera (and there are other photos, and video clips, on other cameras, tapes, computers, CDs and datapens belonging to other people in our various grass-roots networks).

  • Experience that Samwel and others have about their problems sending their photos and video clips.

  • Experience that people have of working with photos and video, mostly in bandwidth rich situations.

  • Ideas of where our information should be presented once it is on the Internet.

Checklist item 2 - Communication
Who are the "people with a purpose" who want to share their information? There are quite a few. All the names I mention here are invited to Thursday's session:

  • Andrius, Maria and Samwel - who are involved in the e-collaboration and/or face to face (F2F) meetings that got the cameras to Kenya -,and it is Samwel who has collected the photos/video clips (no sound) into the camera.

  • David Mutua - who has helped me to collect grassroots photos and video in the past and suggested we should have an e-meeting about it.

  • Guilhem and Asif - who have been giving practical advice to Samwel via Facebook and yahoo groups.

  • Chris Macrae - who wants to get Samwel's videos on youtube, and helped Samwel to get the camera.

I cannot promise all te peopel mentioned will be there, but they are invited. Perhaps as we get further with LearnByDoing we can agree a place where people sign up in advance for e-meetings - so everyone knows in advance who is planning to attend.

Pam will also be attending, and probably others from LearningFromEachOther, Cawdnet, and other networks, who are part of the growing "LearnByDoing Club".

Checklist item 3 - Technology
Aspects of technology have already been mentioned:

  • The Camera, the existing and potential interfaces between the camera and the Internet, the various e-locations where emails have been exchanged, and this e-meeting.

Checklist item 4 - ICT4....
So - ICT4What?

  • Well, in this case the objective is to move forward in our attempt to collect visual evidence form grass-roots projects in Africa and share it in places like "YouTube".

Some practical details for the session

  • We will need a chairperson. I am thinking it may be Sasha - but haven't asked him yet.


  • We need to make our way of introducing ourselves much smoother.

  • We have space on Andrius wiki for this, and Lorraine is making a start on creating a LearnByDoing club index.

  • The idea is that we will develop an alphabetical list of everyone who comes to our "LearnByDoing Club"e-meetings. This alphabetical list will be on one page of the wiki - each name will be a live link to a quick introduction to the named person.

  • People who often come along to LearnByDoing e-meetings will get to know each other and won't need to check on the introduction list.

  • The introduction list will be there to help newcomers. By clicking on the names, newcomers will quickly get to know more about the various people who are contributing to the chat.

  • Newcomers will always be welcome to introduce themselves (during the informal networking time) and their information can also be added to the introduction list. This will happen gradually, depending how much people do for themselves and how much it is left to others.

Agenda items:

  • When the chairman is chosen and calls us to order for the main session we will agree the agenda.

  • It will consist of discussion on various points relating to cameras and the sharing of photos, and video clips.

  • Towards the end of the session the chairman will sum up and offer an "Any Other Business" (OAB) time. Suggestions under AOB may be discussed immediately or held over for a later e-meeting.

  • The chairman will then declare the meeting closed and people will sort themselves out for informal networking.

As usual with a LearnByDoing e-meeting there is an open invitation to attend.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

How It Went - LearnByDoing E-meeting 1 - 26th July 2007

Today we had our first LearnByDoing E-meeting.

We met at the Minciu Sodas chat room. There were seven of us there. We were from three continents - Africa, Europe, and North America - and from five countries. Two more friends from Africa were kept in contact with the chat-room meeting through yahoo chat, because they experienced problems accessing the chat room from their cybercafes.

Most of us are already in contact through the LearningFromEachOther yahoo group. We were also happy to welcome a newcomer - Caroline Ifeka.

We are developing a format where:
The session topic and the meeting leader(s) are agreed beforehand.
We start off with informal chat, and break up for informal chat again at the end of the formal session.
When everyone has arrived the formal session begins and we agree an agenda.
At the end of the formal session there is a review of what has been discussed and learned.
The formal session closes.
People have the opportunity for informal chat before logging off.

As this is a LearnByDoing project the structure of the e-meetings are not already set. It is part of the project to develop effective strategies for e-meetings, strategies that suit the different e-locations where we meet - and suit the real world locations (and cultures) where we are connecting with the Internet.

In this first meeting we did start and end with informal chat, and there was a more structured central session which had a formal ending. We made sure that everyone was able to use colour to make it easy to follow which contributions were made by which people. We discussed various practical issues relating to access and personal introductions.

We are exploring how to develop the right balance between making people feel at home in the group, and moving forward with the business of the meeting. For our purpose of having an e-meeting in a chat room it is a disadvantage that, when people join in, they do not see the chat that has already taken place.

Maybe we can get our chat room changed so that people can easily see what they have missed. (Of course in a real world meeting you do not get the chance to see what you have missed - but e-meetings offer different possibilities.) Maybe we will simply agree that if anyone arrives after the formal session begins we will not be able to greet them properly until the formal session is over.

We looked at the possibility of preparing personal introductions before the e-meeting begins, so people can easily introduce themselves at the appropriate moment. We will explore ways of doing that effectively as the project develops.

The chat from the e-meeting can be read here...

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

July 26th - change of venue.

Change of arrangements ref LearnByDoing e-meeting planned for Thursday July 26th. The meeting on the 26th will now be held in the WorkNets Chat Room at 2.30 pm London Time (1.30 GMT. Please click here to check your timezone.)

The audiographic version of the e-meeting, to be held at Trainserspod has been postponed until until August (probably the 16th).

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Open Invitation

You are invited to participate in the next LearnByDoing virtual event - provisional date and time Thursday August 16th 1.30pm for 2 pm GMT start... (please click here to confirm your timezone.)

This event (postponed from July 26th) is the first of an occasional series of e-meetings, using audio-graphic conferencing.

Who is invited
I don't know exactly who will turn up for the first session, but I can tell you who I will be inviting, either for the first session or as the series gets underway. They are people I have met during seven years of work on ICT for Education and Development - partly in rural Nigeria and partly in the UK using the Internet. Some I know Face to Face (F2F), some I e-know. I am also inviting people who are friends of my friends, or contacts of my contacts - so please feel free to circulate the details. Anyone who happens to come across this invitation and feels it is of interest is invited. For log-in details email me Pam quoting "LearnByDoing July 26th" in the subject line.

Shared interests and collaboration
For years I have valued my Internet networks and my grassroots networks and wanted the people in them to know each other better. This series of e-meetings is a step in that direction. Attendance is free of charge. I hope that as the series progresses we will develop a core group of people who attend on a fairly regular basis - and that new shared interests will be discovered and new collaborations will result. However, regular attendance is not essential as each session will stand on its own.

Reducing knowledge gaps and cultural gaps
The Internet is heralded as the death of distance. Through these e-meetings I hope we will reduce the knowledge gaps, and cultural gaps, between people in my two very different, but overlapping, networks. Each session will have a similar structure and will focus on some topic dear to the heart of one or more people in the core group. These are people who routinely use ICT - through emails and chat - to share information with each other about the practical work they are doing in grassroots education and development. The audio-graphic sessions offer a more sophisticated way of e-meeting - and bring together a wider group to "rub minds". Sessions are hosted by Trainerspod using Elluminate

People you might meet

  • Members of the Learning From Each Other yahoo group that I lead within Minciu Sodas (Lithuanian for "Orchard of Thoughts"), which includes grassroots activists from several African countries.
  • Members of the Teachers Talking (TT) yahoo group which was set up to support the first TT ICT training course for rural teachers, at Fantsuam, in 2004.
  • Other ICT4Education and Development activists who are working with African grassroots projects.
  • Facebook friends such as the ICT4D group from Royal Holloway College University of London.
  • Other individuals from Cawdnet and other networks.
  • People from discussion lists related to ICT4Ed and Development.

The first session
In the first session I will be setting the scene, sharing long term vision, introducing people to each other, explaining our plans for the next twelve months, promoting the "three legged stool" model of effective ICT for Education and Development, and generally laying the foundations for this innovative, practical, LearnByDoing project. For log-in details email me Pam quoting "LearnByDoing July 26th" in the subject line. As with any project there are benefits if you are in at the start. Please circulate this information as appropriate.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

The LearnByDoing Blog... is part of a practical project

As the blog title suggests, the LearnByDoing blog is part of a practical project. The project "walks the talk" of using ICT for Education (ICT4Ed) and ICT for Development (ICT4D).

Starting the blog doesn't mark the start of the LearnByDoing project (although it does mark the start of some practical learning about blogs). The blog is simply a way of bringing various ongoing initiatives together in one e-location - and under one heading - LearnByDoing.

Already, people who are involved in the initiatives make up a wide ranging group in terms of practical projects, geographical locations, key interests, access to ICT, skills, experience, education, languages, age, employment, cultural backgrounds and other variables. We welcome newcomers who also want to Learn By Doing.

This blog is being co-authored by Lorraine Duff and Pamela McLean. (We have just discovered how we can set up a blog with shared authorship.) The initiatives we will be describing here are ones where we are actively involved, and which give us, and others, a chance to LearnByDoing. The initiatives all involve ICT and have some connection with education and/or development.

We have a Learning From Each Other yahoo group and we also hold e-meetings to share information about our various projects. Our next e-meeting is on Thursday 5th July, 4.30pm Kenya time, at the WorkNets Chat Room - please check your time zone. It will be the second e-meeting that we've held at the chat room. After the first one we decided more structure was needed. This time, in addition to having a main contributor (who influences the content) we will also be having a chairman and some kind of agenda. We are making plans for the e-meeting in the "let's e-meet again" thread. The LearningFromEachOther yahoo group archives are open and new members are welcome.

We don't have any set plans for how often we'll write the blog. It is unlikely to be a comprehensive journal. Probably it will be more like a series of post-cards sent in now and again from various locations (real and virtual) relevant to the blog. As we send in the "postcards"we can add links down the side panel - providing easy reference directions to the locations mentioned in our "post-cards". Then other people can follow around, and join in what seems of interest.

Perhaps that is how it will work.

We will find out as we -LearnByDoing...