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;; and 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.