Monday, 15 December 2008

Fred Kayiwa and youth project

I copy this email to my blog, to introduce Fred. He has supported me a lot, especially when I have needed help to make chats go well.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Pamela McLean
Date: 2008/12/15
Subject: Re: [learningfromeachother] Re: Fred Kayiwa and youth project

Hi Fred

I came across this link to Soccer Without Borders
I don't know if they are looking for any new teams to support.The website is asking for more donations and telling potential donors about the work they already do. However there is no harm in emailing them about your work and asking if they will be looking for any new partners in future. They do already have links in Uganda - I don't know if that would prove to be a benefit or a disadvantage.


2008/12/15 fdkayiwa <>
-Hello all friends
I just wanted to share with you what we do currently and perhaps you can advise as well as
support our project in any way you can
thank you a lot for being there for us.
Fred kayiwa

Dadamac (shortened from Dada and McLean)

Dadamac (shortened from Dada and McLean) is the name the John Dada and I use when we are working on things together. We started collaborating in 2003. How that came about is a long story, but the outcome is that:
  • I am John's eyes, ears and voice here in the UK.
  • I am active on the Internet on his behalf as well as my own.
  • I can describe John's various community development projects in rural Nigeria from first hand experience.
  • John and I communicate regularly using the Internet
  • We hold weekly online UK-Nigeria Dadamac team meetings
  • Together we arrange effective collaborations between people in my network (in UK and online) and John's projects in rural Nigeria.
  • We also act as consultants.
Our first project together was Teachers Talking, which had its fourth online anniversary celebration on November 29th 2008. Our most recent collaboration enabled Marcus Simmons of Ecoshelter to visit Attachab Eco-Village, to learn about Nigerian realities, to teach about eco-buildings, and to construct a demonstration eco-dome.

John's work at Fantsuam Foundation and Attachab Eco-Village is driven by his personal commitment and concerns and is work-without-pay. My independent investigative work into ICT and Education is done the same way, and so is our work with the Dadamac Learners, and some Dadamac Collaborators.

It is possible to contribute to our social/community initiatives (at Fantsuam Foundation and elsewhere) through a registered charity Dadamac Foundation (previously known as CAWD). At time of writing this edit (January 26th 2009) Dadamac Foundation has a policy of making no deductions for administrative costs (where necessary they are covered by Dadamac Ltd).

It is possible to employ the Dadamac team through Dadamac Ltd.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Open Farm and Marcin Jakubowski

Marcin's work and vision - The world’s first replicable, post-industrial village

OpenFarm is the work of Marcin Jakubowski. Quote from Marcin's blog: "We are actively involved in demonstrating the world’s first replicable, post-industrial village. We take the word replicable very seriously - we do not mean a top-down funded showcase - but one that is based on ICT, open design, and digital fabrication - in harmony with its natural life support systems. As such, this community is designed to be self-reliant, highly productive, and suffciently transparent so that it can truly be replicated in many contexts - whether it’s parts of the package or the whole. Our next frontier will be education to train Village Builders - just as we’re learning how to do it from the ground up.


On another practical front, we’re interested in collaborating with other existing post-industrial village construction programs out there. OSE-Mid Missouri just started as a student group at the University of Missouri, Columbia. We are framing our collaboration as experiential learning by building a post-industrial village. We also aim to develop this relationship to a clearinghouse of applied research and development projects for students in general.

What are other best examples of global village construction? How are they contributing to the integration of natural and technological ecology for creating replicable nodes of regenerative transformation? How do we work together?"

Good ways to learn more about the Open Farm project:

Visit his blog to follow developments on his farm as they occur

See slides from Marcin's presentation on Global Village Construction Set: Tools for Sustainable Living (4.23.08). I have started to put direct links below to the slides that are most relevant to the "bandwidth challenged" Dadamac team in Nigeria, to help make the most of time online. I will try to add more sometime.

Slide 1 - Introduction

Slide_5 - Creating self-sufficient communities anywhere

Slide_6- Open source and lifetime design

May 22nd, 2008 podcast to learn about his ideas and innovations - podcast introduction says
"Marcin Jakubowski is one of the premier pioneers of open source appropriate technology and agricultural innovation. Guided by Gandhi’s principles of swadeshi, Marcin has made great strides in moving towards community-based development and local autonomy...."


Video of discussion between Vinay and Marcin on May 26th, 2008. Introducing this Marcin wrote: " This interview is perhaps the most clear description to date of the essence of our experiments with Open Source Ecology, and its implementation lab - Factor e Farm. If you can bear the 54 minutes of time, this will definitely be insightful regarding the forthcoming peer-to-peer economy - and provide much insight into the threads of thought and motivations behind our work. At Factor e, we grow ideas, and winnow for the truth. "

It is a long video, but for anyone seriously considering working with Marcin and replicating anything of what he is doing, this video is very valuable for putting the whole thing in context.

Relevance to Attachab Eco-Village

Open Farm is a research and development project which combines technology and agricultural development. It includes many aspects relevant to our interests at Attachab Eco-Village. My hope is that, through Dadamac, Attachab will be near the front of the queue for replicating Marcin's Open Farm strategies.

Funding is through crowd sourcing.
If people see that Marcin's work is relevant to Africa as well as USA it could make his work even more attractive to givers. Most people recognise that "something needs to be done" in rural Africa to address issues of poverty. However, not everyone yet sees the importance of sustainable local development approaches in USA. If we are working together, it could benefit fundraising for Marcin's research and development work as well as helping Attachab Eco-Village development.

I spoke to Marcin (Skype chat) before I visited Fantsuam last September, and since coming back I have met Marcin's associate, Vinay Gupta. Vinay and I plan another meeting soon to explore overlapping interests.

Marcin's blog includes video clips to show exactly what progress is being made. Ideally Attachab Eco-Village should be able to provide similar feedback. Dadamac has been working with learners at the Knowledge Resource Centre (KRC) to develop communication skills including blogging, camera skills, and video making. There are various cultural challenges in persuading people to develop these skills, which is another story, but progress is being made. We are also very fortunate at present in having a VSO volunteer who is blogging and can demonstrate the value of communication to people at the KRC.

Pattern Language and Helmut Leitner

I mentioned Pattern Language at a Meet-up last week, so here is additional information as requested. By putting it here, instead of in an email, I can more easily show other people later.

I will try to return to this blog entry sometime and add more explanation - but Adam - who I am writing this for now has already had some introduction.

My weekly half-hour Skype-chat tutorials on Pattern Language are with Helmut Leitner. His paid work is as a software developer and consultant. Currently his main personal interests are ...
  1. videobridge events (connecting places for education and cultural events)
  2. building a network of interconnected places in Austria/Europe/World taht collaborate that way
  3. system theory of unfolding living systems, following the ideas of Christopher Alexander (wrote a book about that)
Here are some qotes from Helmut from our first Skype-chat (which I know he is happy to make public). I have picked out some main teaching points. I am privelaged because I am able to ask questions and discuss that ideas as we go along - but I have not included any of that. NB - we Skype in haste so there are some typos :

System situations are often complex and it is not clear which way to go, where to invest time, money, energy or other resources. It is interesting to find the potentials that allow to step forward in the most efficient way.

So there are structural concepts that help to describe and design systems. There are process-related principles that increase to chance to do things right.

Development would be relatively easy if the developed system
were like machines and followed certain laws or rules predictably ...
then we could act like a machine builder and construct and build
them ... but their aren't.

All really interesting systems - like society, humans, ecological
systems, cities, communities - are like organisms that have their
unique indivdiuality. They unfold according to general but flexible
principles but they are unpredictable. They are to be nurtured,
gardened, supported in their growth.

Such unfolding processes have always numerous opportunities to
continue from the current situation. Development needs decisions
to follow one path or the other. Each decision influences all the
future decisions and may be right or wrong.

For example: do you want to marry this partner, Yes or no? Your
whole life will change on that decision. The children you get
and care for. The perspective on what is important in life.

For example: Learn this or that profession? On such decisions
almost everything depends. The people you have most contact with,
the things you learn, the abilities in which you grow.

The support of development, the coaching of unfolding is not easy.
Only in 2002-2004 Christopher Alexander published his 4-volume
"The Nature of Order" life-work, which shows the rough outline
of a general concept how to do this in a holistic way. His
earlier books "A Pattern Language" and "Timeless Way of Building"
(about 1980) tapped the potential and inspired people but they
were not yet the breakthrough that is available now.

In my book "Mustertheorie" (published in German) I tried to boil
the 4000+ pages of Alexander, that need a year to reading and study,
down to about 170 paperback-pages that can be consumed and thought
through during a weekend's time.

"Pattern Theory", a theory about how to improve systems, by
understanding their structures and processes, by recognizing the
meaning of patterns as the fundamental modules of knowledge that
can be shared, for decisions to be made in a participation process
based on our feeling for the quality of life.

Still, to make this work, one should understand that numerous
concept have to be understood and practiced. Pattern theory is
like a new kind of science or an intricate game like chess.
One can give an principle explanation of science or chess in
a few minutes, but to make this work, to create first results,
it may take days, weeks, months or years, depending on your
intuitive understanding and talents. Some may grasp this
immediately, others may never grok or like it.

There are about 50 concepts that make up the body of pattern theory,
roughly ordered in four groups. The more these concepts are
available in your mind, without thinking, the easier the work
with development processes will be. I give an incomplete

- The first group of concepts describes STRUCTURES by using
gerneral PROPERTIES that living systems have. We have words that
label these properties but its important, that what is meant is
deeper than the meaning of these words in everyday language.
So we have properties like BOUNDARY, SIMPLICITY, GRADIENT,
RHYTHM and LOCAL SYMMETRY (and more) but these need explanation.

- The second group is about principles of PROCESSES that help
in creating system development. There are principles like

- The third group of concepts is about the concept of PATTERN,
which unifies structures and process as units of meaning.
Patterns have INPUT and OUTPUT, they are subjects to FORCES,
given and a DESCRIPTION supporting their application.

- The fourth group of concepts kind of glues everything together.
We talk about SYSTEM and the elements in the system are called
CENTER (not necessarily in the center, everything and everyone
you can see or image is a "center"). Our main concern is LIFE,
and its unfolding by increasing the QUALITY OF LIFE. Doing so
requires to perceive and think about STRUCTURES and PROCESSES
and PATTERNS (already mentioned and on top of the first three
concept groups). It is about WHOLES. At a human level we think
about the SELF and its unfolding (sense of life) in a co-process
with unfolding environments, people, communities.

This link takes you to diagrams.

There is also a website which has developed from Douglas Schuler's Pattern Language yahoo group. The book mentioned there Liberating Voices - A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution was developed through the Pattern Language yahoo group.

Activist Road Trip is pattern 134 in the book, Helmut pointed it out to me as an example and for its possible relevance to Dadamac.

Cecily's Blog - FF through UK eyes

Cecily is a working at Fantsuam Foundation through VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas). She comes from the UK so her surprises, shocks, delights and insights are perfect for anyone in the UK wondering what life is like at Fantsuam.

You can go direct to her latest blog entry here , and explore the archives.
The links below used to be direct to the right story - but have developed a glitch - please ignore them for now.
Alternatively, go straight to the topic you want via the links below (in reverse order):
Children - The Day of Change
: Launch of the Children's Parliament
Attachab Eco-village. - Cecily's blog - Site visit Friday 5th December 2008 - great photos
Culture vulture - Abuja Carnival
Stop the press! and File, Print - Credit crunch story, then scroll down for the realities of trying to get a print out at Fantsuam.
The wonderful world of work! Starting work at Fantsuam
Pretty in Pink - Cicely's new home in Nigeria

Saturday, 13 December 2008

eGaia - by Gary Alexander

Gary Alexander's book eGaia has interesting ideas about collaboration instead of competition. You can read about Gary; download pages of the book; find out how he is implementing the ideas in practice; and get his latest news here

He is a recently retired lecturer from the Open University and has practical suggestions for how we can move to a more sustainable future. He suggests that the human race at the moment is a threat to planet earth (like a cancer). He suggests how we could collaborate with each other in new ways, and could also work in harmony with planet earth. In his ideal future the human race would act more like the nervous system of the planet, rather than a cancer.

I met Gary last year at an Open Space event, during which he kindly gave me a copy of eGaia "on condition that it's not just used as a door stop" - and it certainly hasn't been. I have appreciated the ideas in the book and shared them. The full title is e-Gaia: Growing a peaceful sustainable Earth through communications. You can read more details and download much of the book here.

Meet-up (face-to-face not face-to-screen)

"Meet-up" is a great online way to meet-up with people locally who share your interests , and on Thursday 11th December 2008 I went to my first meeting. Meet-ups is world wide, although first impressions at the Meet-up home page are that it is very American. I won't explain much because there are videos and explanations at the home page. For anyone who feels "I have local friends but they don't share my deepest interests, and I have people who share my deepest interests but they are not local" Meet-up is a great find. It is also excellent for people newly arrived in an area.

It's slogan is "Maybe it's time for a little less face-to-screen and a little more face-to-face." The range of groups is amazing, and if you can't find what you want then you can set up a new one and invite people to join.

Friday, 12 December 2008

DFID's International Growth Centre Launch

On Wednesday December 10th 2008 I attended the launch of DFID's International Growth Centre at LSE (London School of Economics). For details see Invitation to the Launch of DFID's International Growth Centre.

According to the press release from DFID

The IGC will provide practical help to the governments of developing countries to support growth and improve their ability to cope with effects of the economic downturn. The centre will also provide innovative research on growth.

Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander said:
"The IGC will be a unique resource giving developing countries a hotline to the advice of world-class experts – for example on finance, agricultural yields, the energy sector or policies for the economy as a whole. "

The IGC will:
  • Provide a systematic link between international research and on the ground delivery of policy and programme change around growth.
  • Be able to provide both whole economy analysis drilling down into specific sectors.
  • Provide a mixture of short and longer-term technical support.
  • Be free in its advice from the constraints and preoccupations around aid and loan programmes common to many international agencies.
The IGC has three core components: policy engagement, networking and research
Full DFID Press Release

What does it mean to us
As a practitioner in ICT4Ed&D (Information Communication for Education and Development) I am interested in collaboration between academics and practitioners, and also in how top-down initiatives connect with grass roots.

Regarding collaboration between academics and practitioners I was encouraged by the very down-to-earth comments of Professor Paul Collier (author of The Bottom Billion). I don't claim to be quoting his exact words, but the notes I wrote as he was talking say "Researchers have not had enough exposure to context so governments have learned not to listen (to economists/researchers) ... modesty and realism need to be part of the approach... start from where countries are; what is realistic; need to ask. He spoke about the bottom billion (most economically deprived people) and the need for long-term convergence between them and people who are economically privileged, and the need to use academic research to achieve this convergence.

Regarding how top
-down initiatives connect with grass roots it seems a very long way from DFID's International Growth Centre (IGC) to places like Fantsuam. IGC will be advising governments, and Fantsuam is rather "far down the food chain" if you are starting as far up as Federal Government. So my usual cyncism about initiatives making any differences started to kick in. However I was encouraged when Robin Burgess spoke about networking and "consultation up and down stream". He commented that researchers don't know priorities and referred to the priorities of governments, the private sector and civil society organisations, and finding out what the most innovative are doing in odrer ro recognise what the areas of key research should be. Professor Collier also mentioned people who are serious, courageous and struggling for change, and the need to "step up behind them to make their struggle easier". What this means in practice and remains to be seen. Apparantly there will be ten thematic areas. When these are defined we can go back and see how they overlap with our grass-roots concerns, we could also consider trying to connect with the research team to offer some of our grass roots information.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Tackling my emails by blogging

An email I sent this evening to the Learning From Each Other group explaining about the blog
Hi Everyone

As I mentioned in a previous email I am trying a new approach to sharing information on the Internet.

~ The problem and plan

My problem is that I write a lot of emails to individuals and to lists, and often find that I want to include information I have already written elsewhere. The solution that I am trying now is to put a lot more information where I can easily find it – on my blog – and share it from there. When I do something, I try to write a blog entry. When I need to refer to a person or project in an email I try to do a relevant write up in my blog, and then refer to the link in my email. At present it is taking a lot of time, because I have a lot of catching up to do – and it looks decidedly drab because I haven't found time to sort out many photos, but I can edit them in later. (Thomas I will try to sort out your photos at the same time)

The links below illustrate the approach and may be of some interest.

~ Teachers Talking chat and follow-up yahoo group

I have written a report on the Teachers Talking online anniversary celebration

Following the anniversary celebration I set up a new yahoo group called Dadamac Learners, it is for people who are learning with me online – ranging from people in the first Teachers Talking group, to people I worked with recently at Fantsuam, and including others too. Minciu Sodas friends are of course welcome too if the group seems of interest. I hope there will be a sharing of ideas between Dadamac Learners and Minciu Sodas. I hope Andrius that you will be interested in the group too and will consider joining it. However this is not a Minciu Sodas group because it has developed from different roots, so it has a different "character" and would not really be appropriate in Minciu Sodas

~ Rick Crust and a useful service if your Internet connection is slow.

On Friday I was with Rick Crust

He used to live in Africa and fully understands the difficulties that people face with slow download speeds. He told me about a service (which he hosts on his server) which helps people to access the Internet more effectively. He describes it as Web Navigation & Database Search by Email

As I understand it, it works like this: If there is a website you want to down load, then you send an email to the service with the link of the webpage(s). The service goes to the webpage(s) and sorts out the important information which it emails to you, so you don't have to wait for lots of slow graphics etc to download. This is just my impression I haven't tried it. Please give us feed back if you decide to try this out.

~ World Without Poverty

Update on books and DVDs
There is a mention of DVDs I have sent to Kenya – I don't know if they have arrived safely yet or got lost in the post. David has not had an opportunity to check his box yet.

~ Links

I have created an easy-reference alphabetical list of links. As I mention a link on the blog I try to add it to the list. If your interests overlap mine, you might find it useful. It saves checking through old blog posts to find what was mentioned. I will be updating it as I write new blog entries.

~ Catching up

Once again I apologise to people who are waiting for emails from me. Meanwhile, I hope you can understand why I am taking this approach.


Using the Chatroom

The Minciu Sodas Worknets Chatroom

When I want to organise an open meeeting the Minciu Sodas Worknets chatroom has become the first-choice online-location. My thanks to Andrius Kulikauskas, director of Minciu Sodas (MS) for making it so readily available. We used the chatroom for the Teachers Talking 4th Anniversary online celebration. Also (at time of writing) I am usually "at home" in the chat room on the First Thursday of the month at 12.00 - 13.00 GMT, unless I am travelling. Sometimes we have a definite focus for discussion (such as the World Without Poverty book). Sometimes it is simply a welcome opportunity for a real time chat with members of MS groups such as LearningFromEachOther and others who share my learning interests.

These are the instructions for newcomers
  • Go to
  • Look for “Choose your language:” It is probably set for English (which is what you will need to choose on Saturday).
  • Click on "Next" (if you have a Mac) or the symbol ">" (if you have Microsoft Windows) it is next to the "Choose your language" box.
  • Type your name in the box and click on “Start the chat”.
  • You will find yourself in the chat room.
  • It will “whisper” a welcome greeting to you (whispers are just seen by one person - they are not visible to everyone in the chat room),
  • If you want to know what people were saying before you came into the chat room click on the chat archive link. You will see it on the right hand side of the chat screen.
  • If you prefer you can check what is going on before you go into the chat room by going ot but you will not be able to write any chat of your own until you do go into the chat room properly
  • When you leave the chat it is best to do it officially, by clicking the “leave” link on the left had side of the screen. This lets the computer, and everyone in the chat room, know you are not in the chat any more.
  • Sometimes there is a problem - perhaps you have a bad connection, or power cut. On a bad day it is possible you have to sign in again and again to rejoin the chat. The computer will not let you re-use your name if it seems that someone with that name is already in the room. I just add a number to my name if it happens to me (Pam, Pam1, Pam2... )
The chat room is easy to use. There are no complicated downloads and installation proceedures to worry people who hate technology. There is no need to belong to any special group before you join in the chat. Just click the link and follow the instructions above.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Steve Thompson - People and Place

Cross cultural communication is a challenge. We are trying to address it with children through the People and Place project.

Steve Thompson is Community Media Coordinator at the Institute of Digital Innovation University Of Teesside. We met through PRADSA (Practical Design for Social Action). He does wonderful community work, making great use of freely available software.

When Steve was planning a new project for local schools we got into discussion about it, and he came up with an idea that could include the Children's Computer Club at Fantsuam as well. The project is called People and Place. It is a learning opportunity for children (and the rest of us). Children in locations very distant from each other are starting to post local photographs with short titles. There is a space for comments (anyone can post a comment, the comments are moderated).

People are still in the early stages of using People and Place and seem a bit shy about posting comments at present, but that is not surprising. There are language barriers and other cultural differences to be overcome. There are also practical details of "who does what" when using the camera, uploading photos, needing access to the computers to see what is there and post comments. Apart from techie details, classroom management issues, and time constraints, there are all the issues of building personal relationships. It will take a while to build confidence and trust and get the children (and staff) in the habit of exchanging information and feeling at ease with each other.

I encourage people to visit People and Place, to look at the photos and encourage the children (and staff) by posting comments and questions. Ideally, when you get there, subscribe to People and Place, then you will get notified when new photos or comments are posted, and can respond. It makes all the difference to children if they know their work really has an audience.

The Dadamac Learners

Every now and again it's a good idea to tidy things up. With that in mind I have been thinking about the various people I connect with online for learning, and how I should bring them together. The result is a new yahooo group "Dadamac Learners".

This is how it came about. Recently we had the Teachers Talking (TT) 4th online anniversary celebration. The celebration was held physically at Fantsuam and virtually at the Minciu Sodas chat room. Things have developed in many ways since John Dada and I planned the first TT group in 2004, and I set up my first yahoo group to support it!

The group has widened. At Fantsuam the learners have gradually changed from TT participants to Dadamac Learners at Fantsuam. The anniversary guests are no longer mainly school teachers, and the guest list extends well beyond learners from Fantsuam Foundation (FF). Beyond Fantsuam we have TT Kenya, and various other individuals and groups I lead or connect with, including people from the Learning From Each Other Group in Miciu Sodas.

I look at the people who attended, and the others who wanted to attend but couldn't make it this year. For their benefit, and my own, I want a single, over-arching Learning Group - even if only to ensure that they all get invited to the 2005 anniversary celebration.

In reality it will be more than a guest list. It is a hub for people who share an approach to learning online. This is what I wrote about the group on its home page.
The Dadamac Learners' Group is an Internet based community of learners. It connects local groups and individual members who help each other to learn. There is no membership fee. The initial Dadamac Learners came from Nigeria, Kenya, and UK, so we have many interests related to community development and the use of ICT for communication and learning.

We find that:

* We learn well when we help each other to learn.

* Some topics are best "explored" rather than "taught".

* Sometimes a "learning buddy" is more help than a formal teacher.

* The "need to know" for a practical purpose is a great motivator for learning.

* The Internet helps us to find "learning buddies" as well as factual information.

Dadamac Learners has developed from Teachers Talking and other connected groups, and brings them together. We learn according to the interests and learning needs of our members, and we encourage newcomers to join us.

The Learning Leader for this group is Pamela McLean. She writes a blog called LearnByDoing


Joining is easy. Click this link to the home page and follow the joining instructions. (If you are new to yahoo groups and the instructions seem strange to you send me an email at and I will try to help you. Please give you email the title "Joining Dadamac Learners". That will help to keep it out of my spam filter and get it safely into my inbox.)

Children's Parliament

I received this wonderful text from John Dada at 11.34 on 07/12/08, sharing a great occasion that people at Fantsuam Foundation (FF) have been working towards over recent weeks:
Kafanchan children made history today wt inauguration of their 1st Children's parliament. Hon Gumbare House of Rep, KauruConstituency delivered Keynote address, Canadian High Comm and Save the Childre - UK attended as well as Fantsuam Board members from Lagos, Jos Zaria. FF staff gave excellent support.
These are children who need all the help they can get. From an early age they fetch water and fire wood, they work on the farms, they do domestic work and petty trading, their educational opportunities are very limited, they suffer physical abuse (beatings) at home and at school, and when tragedy befalls their families some are even held to blame and punished as witches. The Children's Parliament is a major achievement and a step towards a more positive future for them.

See Cicely's blog (after the first story about stick ball) for full details and photos .

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Folabi Sunday

Fola is a primary school teacher in Oyo State. Fola teaches in a village in "the bush", which is even more rural, and with less infrastructure than Ago-Are. (I know young men from Lagos and Ibadan who consider they have ventured to the rural depths if they reach Ago-Are - but it is a major metropolis compared to Fola's village.)

Fola and I first met a couple of years ago through Pastor David who manages the Information Centre in Ago-Are. Fola was interested in the Teachers Talking programme. Later he joined the Learning From Each Other group, and he participates in discussions in the worknets chat room. In September 2008 he attended the Self Directed Learners course at Fantsuam Foundation. He also took Mohammed Yunus books on "Creating a World Without Poverty" back to Oyo State.

Fola's contract requires him to teach where he is sent. The Parent Teacher Association of the school where he teaches is required to provide his accomodation. He therefore lives in a traditional small round thatched "mud hut". Really he is a "city boy" and so he does not find it easy to live in such a rural setting. His lifeline is his phone, which he cannot use in the bush, so he has to travel to somewhere like Ago-Are. Fola uses this phone to keep in contact with the outside world, including connecting to the Internet.

The Information Centre at Ago-Are has computers but no Internet connection, and it is only in the last couple of years that Ago-Are has had coverage by the mobile phone network. Fola and Pastor David have been wondering what can be done to help the Information Centre get online. Today Fola sent emails to Learning From Each Other, which suggest a way forward, and explain a glitch.

I copy his emails below:
The possible solution - "Browsing made easy"

it was an interesting story, i met with a company that introduced me to browsing with my phone for 500naira in 24hrs or 3000# every night(10pm-5am) in a month or 10000# for every hour in the month(24/7) using my MTN line. better still it can still be used to browse on the computer and the phone will serve as a modem. i tried out the daily plan of 500naira yesterday and i browse all day on my phone but iam planning to connect it to a desktop and if it also work all day on the system that bring us to limelight at Dadamac and the Ago-Are centre. i have told pastor about this and he asked to give it a trial. iam a happy man now because i can browse all day spending 500naira only. iam even using it to send this mail now. what do you have to say to this
The glitch - "my 3G phone"

I have a sony ericsson phone p990i(a 3G phone) the one i always use to send my mail. but it has developed a little fault not quite long. it does not allow me to install some beautiful softwares like opera,cellity,mig33 and others anylonger. it always says application closed registry server, reason code 9 and some other jaggons but Kelechi said it is the software that needed to be updated. is this true? and if indeed i need an updated software how do i go about it because it is now (that i have discovered how to browse 24hrs spending just 500#)that i needed the phone most. please anybody that has the know how should bail me out.

I am no techie so I don't know the answer to his problem, but discovering the more affordable Internet service, which he and Pastor David might use to provide an Internet connection for the people of Ago-Are is a huge step forward.

Update -problem solved

After Fola wrote his emails he got helpful advice from Bidi Bala and Ricardo through the Self Directed Learners (SDL) Group. The problem was solved and on Friday 12th December 2008 Riccardo posted the update below to the SDL group.


Dear All
just to finish this thread, Fola has now got his phone
working again. He went to the Somy Ericsson website and downloaded
and installed McAfee anti-virus, firewall and VPN manager program on
his phone, and it fixed the problem. He can now run application
programs again on his phone. He didn't need to backup phone numbers
and reset all the memory or install the latest firmware.

I think viruses are mostly a problem for people who install new
programs on their phone. Most people don't add any new programs, so
they never download any viruses onto their phones.

I just posted this info, in case it affects anyone else.




I first heard about www4mail through Kabissa, and thought it was a great idea. Recently I heard about it again from Rick Crust, who hosts www4mail at on his server.

The information below is a sample of what you will find if you click on www4mail at


1. What is www4mail?

www4mail is an email browser for people who have an email address, but no access to the World-Wide Web (WWW) or to FTP. Users include

  • people who live or work in a country that has an under-developed or unreliable telecom infrastructure;
  • students and staff of colleges and universities (anywhere in the world) who do not have reliable access to the WWW

www4mail gives you access to the whole Internet — including search and downloads — through your email. All you need is a standard web browser (for example - Firefox, Internet Explorer or Opera) and an email program (for example - Outlook, Thunderbird, Pegasus).

You use an email program to send requests for web pages to a www4mail server. The server emails you copies of those web pages, optionally modified so that hypertext links may be selected and passed to your email program for further browsing.

www4mail is an open source application — the home page is

2. About www4mail at

Our www4mail server is very similar to others. However, we have added a preliminary filter system which operates on incoming requests. Here are some of our new features:

  • Use of www4mail at is a service for members of the ACCMAIL mailing list (which is not a private list — anyone may join it). We update the access control list every week, so members never have to wait long before they can use the server. Access control is handled by the pre-filter, not by www4mail itself.
  • Note that we also operate a 'denial' control list — a small list of email addresses which have been used to violate our terms of service. Denial control is handled by the pre-filter, not by www4mail itself.
  • We do not respond to requests from email addresses at 'yahoo', '', '', '' or '' (those servers reject so much of our content, it is impossible to use them effectively for www4mail).
  • We have made many other changes to the original source code — most of these edits are transparent to users.
I am grateful to Rick for telling me about www4mail at szs net so that I can pass the information on.

Rick Crust, Age Concern and Silver Surfers

I visited Rick Crust of Age Concern Hackney on Friday December 4th, . We were to discuss the Silver Surfers project there, but discovered other shared interests as well.

Silvers Surfers aims to help people who are over fifty to become Internet-savvy, and to get more out of life through using the Internet. The Silver Surfer group at Hackney is unusual in the number of members who were born in West Africa, especially Ghana and Nigeria.

The email introducing us had said “Pam is interested in projects that communicate between African communities in the UK and Africa and intergenerational projects. As such, I think she'd appreciate a visit to the Lawns and talking to you and some of the people that use it. I've explained that there's formal teaching sometimes, therefore it's probably better for the visit to take place during a drop in.”

I had also been told “Here's the website which has contact details and general information:

It turned out that Rick himself also has connections with Africa, having lived and worked in Zimbabwe. This means he has an excellent understanding of the difficulties facing many people in Africa when they try to go online.

Already I have some practical information from Rick about www4mail. This is an email browser for people who have an email address, but no access to the World-Wide Web.

We will continue to explore ideas for collaboration.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Connecting with Africa.

I am often asked to explain my relationship with Africa:
  • How is it that I live in the UK yet I am well informed about details of rural life in Nigeria?
  • How is it that my connections are personal and are direct to the grass roots (and not through some government initiative or large NGO)?
  • What do I mean when I say I am “Active on the Internet and at various locations in Africa”?
  • How is it that I am involved in practical field work?
  • What about money?
  • What is my relationship with Fantsuam Foundation (in rural Nigeria)?
  • How did I come to develop the Teachers Talking programme in collaboration with Fantsuam Foundation?
  • How did I come to deliver it in Kenya as well?
  • How is it that I am in frequent online contact with local community development activists in various parts of Africa?
  • Can other people have a similar relationship with these projects?
Background information

Rather than answer those specific question I will give some background information related to them, which should allow the answers to emerge.

My connections with Africa are unusual for someone based in the UK. They are very practical and yet also theoretical.

Practical side

The practical side comes from my relationships with people rather than projects. My connections with community development projects in Africa are specific and personal. They have come from many years of working (in my own time) with people who I know. These are people in Africa (or from Africa) who are doing things in their local communities, and have asked me to collaborate with them in some way. Sometimes I have collaborated by going to Africa on “working holidays'. Sometimes I have collaborated by doing various tasks on their behalf in the UK. Sometimes my work has been done on the Internet.

Helping friends

How I came to have so many friends and associates in Africa who are grass-roots activists is a long story, too long to tell here now. Suffice to say that it all began when a friend married a Nigerian, back in the 1990s. Once I got involved with helping him my networks and knowledge began to grow, and kept on growing. What started as “just some help with admin, Internet things, and helping to cross cultural barriers” developed into my present roles as an independent ICT for Education and Development practitioner and as co-director, with John Dada, of Dadamac.

Background in education and ICT

The focus of the practical work has been driven by the grass-roots development work of my friends and associates, while the theoretical side comes from my background in education and ICT. I am a qualified and experienced teacher. I am interested in cognitive development; intrigued by how people think, learn, make decisions, and deal with information. I first came across computers in the 1970s as an undergraduate with the Open University. As someone connected with learning and teaching I became interested in how computers (and, now, ICT) might usefully alter our learning/teaching systems.

Combining theory and practice

I like to combine theory and practice. When “micro-computers” came on the scene I learned how to programme them and did innovative work in my infant classroom. From that I got involved in research, development, writing, and training. All these work experiences have contributed to my present work in ICT for Education and Development (ICT4Ed&D). My work in Africa (face-to-face and “on the Internet”) enables me to do research and development about ICT and its role in formal/informal educational/training systems. I respond to local needs related to education/training and development. I am involved in practical projects and problem solving. I use ICT. I do field work. I teach and learn at a distance. Initially these interests competed with my day jobs, but gradually there is increasing overlap between the work I do for its own sake and the work I am paid for.

Enabling cross-cultural collaboration

I am now uniquely well-placed to enable effective communication between two very different cultures. On one hand I speak from my own cultural background here in the UK. On the other hand I can speak to people in my culture on behalf of my friends and associates in Africa. This is particularly true regarding speaking for John Dada and what he is doing at Fantsuam. In fact that is why we came up with the name “Dadamac” - when I speak as “Pamela McLean from Dadamac” I can speak authoritatively for John Dada as well as for myself. I can talk about his ongoing work and my own, but even more importantly I can talk for both of us about future plans and possible collaborations. In collaboration with John I can set up Dadamac projects in Nigeria, where everyone wins through collaboration and the free exchange of information. I can also set up more traditional collaborations where Dadamac Ltd – Knowledge Brokers provides paid consultancy services, and enables field testing and other research and development opportunities.

Testbed, showcase, dissemination of ideas

Part of our vision is to provide opportunities for people to trial innovations, relevant to rural Nigeria and similar locations. We offer a site which is both a living testbed and a showcase. The showcase aspect is connected to our training programmes and existing work at Fanstuam Foundation Knowledge Resource Centre. We want to aid the dissemination of good ideas, products and services. We are committed to sharing good practice. We will share information with people who travel to visit our site, and with people further afield. Our interests in ICT and education/training means that we are involved with distance learning as well as face-to-face education and training. As we develop on-site training at Attachab we will also be looking at ways to share information effectively with people who are far away.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

World Without Poverty – Book and DVDs.

World Without Poverty, Mohammed Yunus and Chris Macrae

Nobel prize winner Mohammed Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and “father of micro-credit” was in the UK earlier this year. He was promoting his book “Creating a World Without Poverty”. I went along to hear him speak and also spoke briefly to Chris Macrae, who I know through Mincius Sodas.

Chris is a strong supporter of Mohammed Yunus, and was involved in organising Mohammed Yunus' meetings in London. Chris has been actively promoting Yunus' ideas in various ways. He has been freely distributing copies of “Creating a World Without Poverty”. He has also organised a related DVD, and made that freely available. I have taken some of these books and DVDs from Chris, so this blog entry is mainly to update him on their whereabouts. You can find out more about Chris through his contributions on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet.

The first ten books, plus ten more

I have written elsewhere about the first ten books. I took them with me to the COMMUNIA meeting in Lithuania in March, to share with other participants. I understood that a book club had been set up in London to discuss “Creating a World Without Poverty”. I had in mind to see if we could do an online “World Without Poverty” (WWP) book club around the copies I took to COMMUNIA. Six of the books finished up in Kenya through Ken Owino and the Nafsi Acrobats. The other copies stayed in Europe, one with Andrius Kulikauskus (director of Minciu Sodas and organiser of the COMMUNIA meeting).

After we had all gone our separate ways we started to discuss the WWP ideas through the LearningFromEachOther yahoo group and the Minciu Sodas chat room. The archives show how these discussions went, how various people were asking to see the books, and how copies reached Tanzania and Uganda.

When David Mutua, from Kenya, was here in the UK we collected another ten books so that he could take more back to circulate in East Africa.

Books to Nigeria

When I went to Nigeria, on a working holiday at Fantsaum Foundation (FF) I took another sixteen books with me. I intended to give some to John Dada for FF, and to pass some to my contacts from South West Nigeria. I imagined John would know other people who might be interested, and this was in fact so. I was impressed by the range of people who came to Fantsuam Foundation during the three weeks I was there. John mentioned some of the ideas in the books to visitors who might perhaps be influenced by the ideas. If they responded in a thoughtful and interested way then we offered to let them read it, and if they seemed seriously interested we presented a copy. We soon realised that we wanted them to share their books with others, so we decided the best way to distribute the books was in pairs -“one to keep and one to share”. We did not have enough to do this, and had to give some out singly, but I have since been able to get a few more copies taken out.

100 DVDs

Chris has more recently made available 1,000 copies of a DVD which shows some of the people and projects related to the book. Mostofa brought some of these DVDs with him, when he held a London Yunus group meeting. He gave me 100 DVDs, and I now have just 10 left. Most of the DVDs have been shared between the parcel I sent to Fantsuam Foundation, and another parcel I sent to David Mutua. I hope these will get circulated to the book readers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. I also gave a book and a few DVDs to Thomas Chepaitis when he was in London, from Lithuania. I gave another book and a few DVDs to Caroline Ifeka in London, to take back to the REIWA project.

DVDS for South West Nigeria and Thompson Ayodele

My friends in South West Nigeria, who already have copies of the book, are keen to have the DVDs as well. They are based in Lagos and at a couple of locations in nearby Oyo State. I understand that Thompson Ayodele from Lagos now has 100 DVDs, and hope he will be able to pass some of those DVDs on to the people who are I know are wanting them.

Catching up with Chris

Chris, I must let you know that I am not managing to keep up with your all posts. Here are some quick points.

  • I appreciate your energy and generosity in helping to share the ideas in WWP, and I am glad I have been able to help spread the ideas further.
  • If you could give me Thompson Ayodele's email address then I will ask him to pass on the DVDs to my contacts who are in his area.
  • I agree that the future belongs to the young and we should empower them. However my work is holistic, not age related. My impression (from the emails which I have managed to read recently) is that you want your collaborators to be work specifically with youths.
  • As my collaboration with you in sharing the ideas of Mohammed Yunus is done in my own time, I am sure you will understand that I don't have time to emphasise elements (such as specific youth projects) that are not current priorities in my own work.
  • I know that you are interested in connecting with Africa, and “UK-Africa connections” is what I do in Dadamac Ltd. I think it would be helpful to both of us, if I clarify the nature of the connection. I will write a separate blog entry to explain.
  • Regarding Fantsuam micro-credit and Grameen bank micro-credit. I know from Kazanka Comfort, the general secretary of the micro-credit scheme at Fantsuam Foundation, that she had to make many adaptations to the Grameen model to make it work locally. The culture is very different. This obviously has relevance for all the projects discussed in Creating a World Without Poverty.
  • Perhaps I should point to the area of the book most relevant to what I know and do. In chapter 9, (Information Technology, Globalization, and a Transformed World) Mohammed Yunus introduces the idea of a Center for International Initiatives for IT Solutions to End Poverty, or, in brief IT Solutions to End Poverty (ISEP). On pages 198 and 199 he lists projects that ISEP members or centres could spearhead. The work that John Dada and I do is relevant to various projects on the list, especially where they relate to on-the-ground practicalities of IT use (and potential use) in rural areas.

List of links

Quick alphabetical reference to all (or almost all) the links to people, places and projects mentioned in this blog. Includes easy reference to blog archives.

Some items are referenced twice for easier finding e.g. "John Dada's 5 minute you tube Introduction to Fantsuam" comes under John Dada and Fantsuam. Please send a comment if something you hoped to find here is missing, or a link is not working, and I will try to add/fix it.

* A *
A Ray of Hope My blog entry "Thank you BA and A Ray of Hope
A Ray of Hope Friends, members and affiliations
A Ray of Hope How it started
Akvo - Mark Charmer's organisation
Andrius Kulikauskas, COMMUNIA, and Open Knowledge My blog
Attachab Eco-village. - Cecily's blog - Site visit Friday 5th December 2008 - great photos
* C *
Chatroom Log on here to enter Minciu Sodas worknet chatroom
Chatroom - My blog about it and how to log on
Connecting with Africa - My blog explaining how I got involved
Cicely's blog - my blog about Cecily's blog with easy links to her archive.
* D *
Dadamac Learners My blog - why I set up this online learning community
Dadamac Learners Front page - full details and how to join
Delicious - Delicious "about" page - how to share and organise favourite webpages
DFID's International Growth Centre Launch - My blog
* E *
Ecoshelter Photos Includes Marcus and Pam during Dadamac trip in Sept 2008
Ecoshelter - website relevant to Marcus Simmons who built the Attachab Eco-Dome
eGaia - by Gary Alexander - My blog
Emile Emiabata, Social Impact Businesses and HowDoYouDo - My blog
* F *
Facebook Front page
* F - Fantsuam Foundation (FF) *
Fantsuam Foundation - My blog - a flavour of Fantsuam
Fantsuam Foundation John Dada's 5 minute YouTube introduction
Fantsuam Foundation YouTube by a volunteer in 2007
Fantsuam Foundation - Cicely's great blog with photos and up to date news from Fantsuam
Fantsuam Foundation Wireless Network 2007
FantsuamCLC Self Directed Learners' Blog
Fantsuam Advocacy Centre for Children How it came about
FF Children's Parliament - From Cicely's blog
* F Continued *
Folabi (Fola) Sunday My blog introducing Fola, plus his recent news.
* G *
Ginger Farmers My blog on ginger farmers and how they relate to Teachers Talking
GlueSniffers - Introduction to GlueSniffers (its about appropriate technology and sharing knowledge)
GlueSniffers My blog about GlueSniffers first meeting
* H *
Hackney Silver Surfers
* J *
John Dada's 5 minute YouTube about Fantsuam Foundation
* L *
LearnByDoing My blog address
Learning From Each Other - join me in this yahoo group
* M *
Marcus Simmons
- My blog on Marcus, Eco-shelter, Ecodome and Attachab.
Mark Charmer - My blog on Mark Charmer and Akvo
Minciu Sodas worknet chatroom Log on here to enter chatroom
Minciu Sodas worknet chatroom - My blog about it and how to log on
* P *
* P (Pam's blog archive - by date - most recent at the top) *
Pam's LearnByDoing Blog
IT46 and mast at Fantsuam
Africa-Gathering_report_from LIDC
Skinningove Second Life in Italian
Fola_ICT training_and skill surveys
Andrius Kulikauskas, COMMUNIA, and Open Knowledge
WES: World Entrepreneur Society 2009
Pattern language and civil empowerment
CDE eLearning personalisation_seminar
Credit crunch musings
Go to college Get job Borrow from the tea-girl
Nafsiafrika Acrobats Kenya Lithuania video-bridge
Tuttle Club, Lloyd Davis and Temporary School of Thought
Hacking the Recession
Glen at Fantsuam - Canadian view of Nigeria
Happy Birthday Jibrin Perry Dadamac SDL
Yoghurt and a bull - Long-term planning
CDE and GlueSniffers: two_perspectives_on sharing knowledge
Retraining_after_redundancy_in the 21st century
Recession - learning_from_last_time
Marcus_Ecoshelter_Ecodome_and_Attachab Dadamac enabled project 2008 and ongoing
Tom_Ricardo_and_life-saving_learning unusual kind of e-learning - ideal Internet use.
Ken Owino Ken, Nafsi Africa Acrobats, Solar Water Purification and More
Fred Kayiwa and youth project
Dadamac (shortened from Dada and McLean) - how John Dada and I work together
Open Farm and Marcin Jakubowski - something we'd like to replicate/adapt for Attachab
Pattern Language and Helmut Leitner - I'm the beneficiary of an online learning collaboration
Cecily's Blog - Fantsuam Foundation through UK eyes
eGaia - by Gary Alexander
Meet-up (face-to-face not face-to-screen)
DFID's International Growth Centre Launch
Tackling my emails by blogging
Using the Chatroom - The Minciu Sodas Worknets Chatroom
Steve Thompson - People and Place
The Dadamac Learners
Children's Parliament
Folabi Sunday
Rick Crust, Age Concern and Silver Surfers
Connecting with Africa
World Without Poverty – Book and DVDs
List of links
We celebrated TT - November 29th
Fossbox on Friday 28th November
Final arrangements for Sat 29th November
A Flavour of Fantsuam
Thank you BA and "A Ray of Hope"
Ginger Farmers and Teachers Talking Online
Community and Communications
Vinay Gupta
Mark Charmer and Akvo
Another Learn By Doing - can't see who writes it
Emile Emiabata, Social Impact Businesses and HowDoYouDo
Africa++, New Ideas for Africa and Femi Longe
Education, ICT, Nigeria and my friend Caroline Ifeka
Dadamac Meeting – November 19th 2008
Email backlog, blog,Open everything and TT anniversar
TT anniversary coming up
Twitter, blog and KMS
Web design and sharing knowledge
Learning, doing, and a couple of meetings
Sad News From Caroline Ifeka
Pics from Fantsuam now on Picasa

* P (P continued)*
Pan Commonwealth Forum - fifth (PCF5)
People and Place - Front page of project - includes Fantsuam Children's Computer Club
Pyramind of Peace - Youtube
R *
Rick Crust - My blog on visit to Rick, Hackney Silver Surfers, and www4mail
* S *
Silver Surfers Hackney
Steve Thompson - My blog on Steve and his People and Place project at Fantsuam
* T *
Tackling my emails by blogging - Entry in my blog
Teachers Talking 4th anniversary - My report after the celebration on November 29th 2008
Teachers Talking slideshow - prepared for PCF5 workshop
Tuttle Club, Lloyd Davis and Temporary School of Thought - My blog
Twitter - Twitter "about" page
* U *
Useful visitors - changing the shape of international volunteering and skillshare

* V *
Vinay Gupta - My blog on meeting Vinay, with more links about him and his work
* W *
WES: World Entrepreneur Society 2009
Worknets chatroom Log on here to enter chatroom
Worknets chatroom archive Archive of latest chat - may take a little while to load.
Worknet chatroom - My blog about it and how to log on
www4mail at Web Navigation & Database Search by Email

Saturday, 29 November 2008

We celebrated TT - November 29th

Today we celebrated the fourth anniversary of Teachers Talking (TT)/the Dadamac Learning Group.

Name change

We need to change the name of this celebration to reflect how TT has grown and developed since its early days. When John Dada and I planned the first course at Fantsuam Foundation (FF) in 2004 it was for teachers only, and the yahoo group that I set up to support it was called CawdnetTeachersTalking. Cawdnet is not active any more in its old form. John and I collaborate under the name of Dadamac and I am involved with other FF learning groups, not just teachers. We also connect with teachers/learners in other locations, face-to-face and through the Internet. All these people belong naturally in this annual online celebration. It is not limited to people with direct involvement with TT in Nigeria and in Kenya. TT has given birth to a much more inclusive online learning group than that. Next year we will probably call it the Dadamac Learning Group celebration – not just TT.

Online venues – chat room and Skype

This year our online celebration was held in the Minciu Sodas (MS) worknet chatroom. Previous TT celebrations have been through yahoo. However the chatroom has certain benefits. It is a very welcoming virtual place and I often use it to introduce people to the Internet and online groups. It is also a familiar venue for people in the Learning From Each Other (LFEO) yahoo group that I lead (which is part of Minciu Sodas). Another innovation for this TT celebration was a video link between Fantsuam Foundation and UK, using Skype.

Wondering who might be at Fantsuam Foundation

The main physical location for the celebration was the main compound of Fantsuam Foundation (FF). It is not easy for people to get there on a Saturday. There are always family events, wedding and funerals, on Saturdays. There are other FF activities, like the Children's Computer Club, which demand the attention of some of our group. The staff and volunteers connected with FF are busy through the week. I was aware that the time they get to the weekend they may feel they have seen more than enough of the FF computers!

As for the teachers who have participated in TT back in the early day - well most of them had to travel to Fantsuam to participate, and so there are issues of time and cost and problems of letting them know. The first year we sent written invitations to all the participants. It took a volunteer two days of driving around on a motorcycle to deliver the invitations. There is no reliable postal service – and of course no Internet connection except through Fantsuam Foundation. This year it was more informal, just by word of mouth.

I knew that Mercy and Bala would try to be there and that Kelechi could not..... who else would be at FF to mark our fourth anniversary?

Mercy's Learning Journey Video

I had challenged Mercy Isaac and Kelechi Michaels to prepare a short video clip about a learning journey in readiness for the anniversary celebration. Mercy and Kelechi are leading the Dadamac learners at the FF KRC. Learning Journeys are an important idea amongst Dadamac Self Directed Learners. We have told our Learning Journeys face-to-face but I have also suggested that we should tell the stories of our Learning Journeys by (very short) video. Then we can all learn more about each other, think how we can help each other, and also develop our video skills.

I wanted Mercy and Kelechi to have one ready to share at Fantsuam so others would be encouraged to do their own. They sent Mercy's Learning Journey to me yesterday and Nikki and I enjoyed it together before going to the chat room. I hope it will be shown at Fantsuam too, but I don't know if they had time today. I am encouraging Mercy to post it on YouTube or give me permission to upload it here.

In the chat room

First to arrive in the chat rooom were Nikki and me from the UK, quickly followed by John Dada, director of Fantsuam Foundation (FF). He told us that Nicholas, Monday, Bala, Afiniki, and Cicely were also there with him at the FF Knowledge Resource Centre, and sure enough, gradually their names appeared in the chat room.

It was not just people from FF arriving. Kims (from LFEO/MS) arrived too – from Dar in Tanzania.

Then more people from FF - Patience, Sankwai, Comfort, Yakubu, Success, Kani and Mercy. Most of the FF people joining the celebrations are already connected with Dadamac Self Directed Learners in one way or another, but outsiders were welcome too.

I had not met Success before. She had travelled to Fantsuam Foundation from Ekiti to help with preparations for the launch of the Children's Parliament at Fantsuam next week.

Kani is the charismatic children's drama teacher for Fantsuam Foundation. I admire his work. In fact last September as I was crossing the compound, while he was leading some songs-and-movement warm-up activities, I couldn't resist becoming an unofficial “back row” and joining in.

I knew that Fola was looking forward to joining us in the chatroom from a cyber cafe in Ibadan in South West Nigeria, but he didn't arrive. I hope it was just the usual problems with NEPA and nothing more serious. Fola connects with Teachers Talking through my work with Oke-Ogun Community Development Network and the Information Centre in Ago-Are, and is a member of LFEO. He also joined us at FF for the course I ran in September this year. He teaches in a village in the bush and has to travel out of the bush before he can even make a phone call. Sometimes he used his phone to connect with the Internet. His full introduction deserves a separate blog entry.

David Mutua had sent apologies and greetings from Kenya. He needs a separate blog entry too. We have worked together in Ago-Are, at Fantsuam Foundation, and on Teachers Talking in Kenya.

Krishna Alluri of COL (Commonwealth of Learning) based in Canada, and connected with us through Ago-Are and TT Kenya had also sent greetings. (See his comment after the TT final post about TT arrangements.)

More people arrived in the chat room via FF Knowledge Resource Centre (KRC) - Solomon, Lilian from Praise Divine, and Mr Shinggu.

The skype video link

We had all been chattering away through our keyboards – old friends catching up and new introductions being made - but we had not put faces to names so we turned on the Skype video link between UK and Fantsuam. It was odd to be so near and yet so far from the KRC and all those familiar friendly faces. The sound quality was poor, and the video was clunky, and we lost the connection twice, but the faces were recognisable. It even so it was a real high-spot of the day. People who had worked with Nikki during the GIMP photo-editing course or our weekly Dadamac UK-Nigeria team meetings saw her for the first time. I was sitting by Nikki, pointing at the screen to tell her who was who. We smiled and waved and tried to call to each other by voice (at the same time typing to say we could not hear). Some people were considering logging out of the chat room, to leave more bandwidth for a third attempt at video, but then more people began to arrive in the chat room, so we all wanted to chat there again.

More arrivals

Back in the chat room the new arrivals were Fred (LFEO/MS) from Kampala, Uganda, Marcus (Eco-shelter) from the UK, Dan Otedo (LFEO/MS) from Kenya, Jude and Theophilus from Fantsuam, and Sasha (LFEO/MS) from Serbia. The conversations we had are in the chat room archives.

Some of us decided our geography was a bit shaky and Marcus sent us the link to Google maps.

Bye for now

People had to start leaving.

Nikki and I had thoroughly enjoyed it here in the UK. We hope a good time was had by all. Feedback from Mercy later in the day said “Being in the Chat room today has been so exciting. Those that were absent wished they had come because the stories reached out to them. I took some photos and I'll get them posted to you one of these days.”

Fossbox on Friday 28th November

Thanks to Paula of PRADSA I was invited along to a FOSSbox training day. It was mainly about Open Source so I wondered if it might be too techie for me. In fact it was relevant, and with a good mix of people. I have two follow-up invitations to places in East London that sound a bit like our Dadamac Knowledge Resource Centre at Fantsuam Foundation. I look forward to learning more.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Final arrangements for Sat 29th November

You are invited to join us in the chat room as part of the Teachers Talking (TT) anniversary celebration on Saturday 29th November. We will meet for about an hour - start time 10.00 GMT, 11.00 Nigerian time, 13.00 Kenyan time. To work out your local time see time zone converter.We are celebrating the fourth anniversary of the Teachers Talking (TT) programme, which I started at Fantsuam in 2004. Each year there has been some kind of anniversary celebration at Fantsuam including an online link-up (so I could join in from the UK).

This year we are widening the invitation list – so if you have any interest in what we have been doing with TT and other Dadamac learning programmes at Fantsuam, and would like to meet some of the people involved, do come and join us. You are welcome even if you have never participated in one of our programmes. It is an informal get-together – just like an ordinary face-to-face celebration. There is no formal agenda – we just want to enjoy being together. If you are new to the chat room, don't worry, I will put joining instructions at the end of this post.

The plan

The chat room session is part of a longer celebration at Fantsuam, including refreshments and various other off-line activities. Part of the plan is to chat online and part is to have a video link, between UK and Fantsuam, so we can smile and wave at each other. We cannot do a video link in the chat room. The best we can try this time is to just set up a link between two webcams (between Fantsuam and UK) using skype. Perhaps by next year we will have something with video that can involve everyone.

We will spend most of our online time in the chat room. The people at Fantsuam who are organising the celebration are accustomed to using skype for conferencing, but are not used to entering the chat room. If they have not already seen the instructions here I will meet them on skype, and bring them over to the chat room. (Later I will use the skype link with them for the video).

We will have a good group. We expect the Fantsuam people. Fola plans to join us in the chat room from Ibadan. Rose is hoping to join us from Kenya. There will be two or three of us from the UK. There are others I am not sure about. David Mutua, organiser of TT Kenya sends his apologies and greetings (he has a meeting and is also in the count-down to his wedding – greetings to David and his bride-to-be). Thanks to Andrius for letting us use the chat room. Andrius is busy in Bosnia, putting in time on the day job, and wrote “of course, please do use our chat room I will be grading midterms so I probably won't be there, but I'm excited for our work together...”

I need to leave soon after the hour is up (well before one and a half hours is up) because I have to go and earn some money teaching. But of course you can continue in the chat room for as long as you like. I am excited about the celebration and the people who will be there. If you want to join us, you are very welcome.

Using the chat room
  • Go to
  • Look for “Choose your language:” It is probably set for English (which is what you will need to choose on Saturday).
  • Click on Next.
  • Type your name in the box and click on “Start the chat”.
  • You will find yourself in the chat room.
  • It will “whisper” a welcome greeting to you (whispers are just seen by one person - they are not visible to everyone in the chat room),
  • If you want to know what people were saying before you came into the chat room click on the chat archive link. You will see it on the right hand side of the chat screen.
  • If you prefer you can check what is going on before you go into the chat room by going ot but you will not be able to write any chat of your own until you do go into the chat room properly
  • When you leave the chat it is best to do it officially, by clicking the “leave” link on the left had side of the screen. This lets the computer, and everyone in the chat room, know you are not in the chat any more.
  • Sometimes there is a problem - perhaps you have a bad connection, or power cut. On a bad day it is possible you have to sign in again and again to rejoin the chat. The computer will not let you re-use your name if it seems that someone with that name is already in the room. I just add a number to my name if it happens to me (Pam, Pam1, Pam2... )
You are welcome

I look forward to meeting whoever chooses to come, friends old and new, at the TT celebration on Saturday.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A Flavour of Fantsuam

John Dada, director of Fantsuam Foundation, has kindly called Fantsuam my “second home”. Certainly I feel very relaxed and welcome there, when I go for one of my visits - variously described as "working holidays", "field work" and "reality checks".

Fantsuam Foundation is located in Bayan Loco, Kafanchan. The main language spoken there is Hausa, but the really local language is Fantsuam. (I have been told that Kafanchan is the Hausa name for the town of Fantsuam.) I would like to give a flavour of Fantsuam Foundation and its location. Fortunately help is at hand through YouTube and some blogs:
Fantsuam Foundation also has a Children's Computer Club (CCC). The CCC is taking part in the People and Place project where children in different countries exchange information by posting photos.

Thank you BA and "A Ray of Hope"

Don McBurney, is the founder and director of “A Ray of Hope”. He is a great enabler.

"A Ray of Hope" started as a choir . By the time I first met Don (online, in 2003) “A Ray of Hope” had grown enormously. It has many friends – both individuals and organisations. However, despite its many friends “A Ray of Hope” did not have any contacts in Nigeria then, so Don asked me to provide that link.

Don said that my first task would be to organise a children's art competition on the theme of peace. He wanted to see if I really did have good contacts with schools, and he genuinely wanted the pictures. “A Ray of Hope” has a wonderful collection of pictures from children across the world. To help the children decide what to put in their pictures they are encouraged to think of peace as the opposite of conflict – a peaceful happy life. The pictures provide a wonderful insight into the lives of children. Some of the pictures have been framed to hang on the board-room walls of organisations that support “A Ray of Hope”.

My contacts in Nigeria organised the art competition in advance of my visit. In fact they organised art competitions at four different locations – Kafanchan in North Central Nigeria, and Okeho, Isseyin and Ago-Are, all in Oyo State in the South West. I simply took the trophies, medals, certificates educational posters that “A Ray of Hope” had provided and helped with some final judging and prize-giving.

British Airways is a friend of “A Ray of Hope” and as a result Don was able to give me free tickets for my trip to Nigeria for the art competition. He told me that as long as I did the art competition I could do anything else that I wanted during the trip, in fact I could do one of my usual “working holidays”. This meant I could run another Teachers Talking course for John Dada at Fantsuam, without needing to find the air fare. Wonderful!

When I came back I was delighted to find that Don was impressed by the work people had done in Nigeria with the art competitions. He was also very positive about the normal “working holiday” work that I had done. In fact he has given me additional tickets since. He has phoned me up and asked if I would like to go to Nigeria again. When I have said “Yes please, what do you want me to do?” his answer has been to simply ask me what I would do when I am there. He must like what he hears for each time he has told me to put it in writing, and I have been given the ticket. As a result I have been able to repeat my “working holidays” with John and the teachers, trainers and children at Kafanchan more frequently that would otherwise have been the case.

Thank you “A Ray of Hope” and British Airways.