Saturday, 2 May 2009

Fola, ICT studies and skill survey.

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

Hi Fola

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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