Access2OER:8 Some Access Initiatives
- 1 8. Overview of some access initiatives (Kim Tucker)
- 1.1 8.1 The initiatives
- 1.2 8.2 Lessons learned
- 1.3 8.3 How Tos
1 8. Overview of some access initiatives (Kim Tucker)
Kim also proposed that community members share more personal stories indicating what individuals had done once they managed to access knowledge/learning resources on the Internet (or via some other means). He suggested that participants reflect on the following questions:
- What were the localisation issues for them in context?
- Did they go on to produce local learning resources of their own?
- Were there other unexpected innovative uses or consequences?
- What are the implications for how we go about enabling access to knowledge and learning for the billions yet to be connected?
- How was quality of life improved for one or more people?
The following initiatives provide learning materials (among other resources shared), while providing access via some medium. Some have also been designed to promote collaboration and communication.
1.1 8.1 The initiatives
1.1.1 8.1.1 Digital Doorway
This project was inspired by the Hole in the Wall project.
Both employ the concept of "minimally invasive education". Providing access resulted in some children learning how to use computers and even how to read - via peer learning and experimentation. A few children in the community with a little knowledge, natural ability, and a lot of collective curiosity led to new opportunities for many. The Digital Doorway addresses the robustness issue required for computers enabling access in some southern African communities and highlights unexpected learning and possible pedagogical advances. The concept is continually evolving and the number of deployments in South Africa is growing.
There are anecdotes of learners queueing up daily for hours for a short time on a digital doorway, and curious parents being inspired for their children after walking up to 12 km to find out what was keeping them away from home (and off the streets).
1.1.2 8.1.2 Wireless Africa
Wireless Africa enables communities to set up their own wireless networks.
Starting from a position of "community-owned information networks", enabling communities to empower themselves with knowledge, this project is now being extended to enable community innovation including (for example) entrepreneurial services for schools.
For more information, click on the "How Tos" link on the Wireless Africa website.
1.1.3 8.1.3 Freedom Toaster
A facility to enable access to CDs/DVDs of FLOSS (free/libre and open source software) and educational resources - for those with limited Internet access but with access to PCs (e.g. at the school computer lab or at a community centre, etc.).
1.1.4 8.1.4 SchoolNet Namibia
"... a local hands-on ICT deployment, training and support organization, ... to empower youth through the Internet and provide a sustainable low-cost technology solution for Internet to all Namibian schools".
During the course of this initiative, which has deployed computers in more than 350 schools, a variety of approaches have been used to enable Internet access.
The computers are generally arranged around circular tables encouraging interaction around and across tables. The types of learning resources available are a combination of OER and non-free resources. Few are localised, but many are of great interest to the learners, most notably a local custom snapshot of Wikipedia (probably the SOS Children's edition?). A general observation is that learners are exposed to parts of (e.g.) Wikipedia and other learning resources in English but proceed to talk about the material in more familiar language(s) - an example of constructing collective understanding.
1.1.5 8.1.5 MobilED
MobilEd was designed orginally as a research project on mobile education using the most basic phones, which are used surprisingly widely in under-developed parts of the world. The first protoypes used Wikipedia as the source of learning material. The process was to send a word via SMA to a number. The system would then phone the caller back and read from Wikipedia using a text-to-speech engine. The technology was designed to work in both directions (i.e. users may contribute text to Wikipedia) and can accommodate multimedia with a little extra thought and work (and a more sophisticated, more expensive - less common - phone). The concept is being extended in various directions.
1.1.6 8.1.6 Wizzy Digital Courier
A system for caching e-mails to be sent/received and internet page requests until the evening, when dial-up becomes more affordable. Alternatively, schools without access to the internet can have emails and internet pages delivered on a USB storage device by a human courier.
1.1.7 8.1.7 "Dr Math"
A service for learners to ask questions about their maths homework via SMS and receive hints from connected educators.
The service could be expanded, so instead of Dr Math it could be Professor Sociology, or another subject, with mentors providing hints using access to OER that are not available to those on the SMS network. There is more on taking this forward on WikiEducator.
1.1.8 8.1.8 Ulwazi
The original Mamelodi Broadband E-Learning Pilot Project aimed to explore educational opportunities between five schools in the Pretoria area using a Motorola Canopy Radio Network.
The project is now expanding to include Dinaledi 10 schools along a radio corridor in the Mpumalanga region of Bronkhurstspruit, Witbank and Middleburg.
1.1.9 8.1.9 Lwazi
"More and more South Africans have access to telephones, while most do not have reliable access to the Internet or even printed media. A telephone-based, speech-driven information system can build on existing infrastructure and communication methods to connect all South Africans to the benefits of information technology."
Imagine the educational applications! Some of the technology being developed may be available later this year.
1.1.10 8.1.10 SAIDE ACEMaths
ACEMaths is an "... Open Educational Resources (OER) materials adaptation initiative that has developed and piloted a six unit maths teaching and learning module called, Teaching and Learning in Diverse Classrooms. Six higher education institutions are using the materials in a variety of teacher education programmes."
".... We think that it’s important not only to produce and disseminate materials, but also to do this through sharing expertise and resources."
The project addresses the problem of lack of local skills and knowledge for adapting and revising OER through deliberately setting up a community of educators and asking members of the community to focus on course design, rather than the nitty gritty of materials adaptation. For the latter, the project contracted a materials development and content expert. (Tessa Welch)
1.2 8.2 Lessons learned
Most of these projects respond to needs and overcome barriers for particular groups at particular times.
There is value in having access at multiple levels, for example:
- raising awareness of technology,
- stimulating curiosity and local discussion about possible implications towards readiness,
- seeing how others structure courses, even if the actual content is almost useless.
These projects can also result in unexpected community-led innovation. It just needs a few community members to succeed in using the resources effectively - and then to channel some of their knowledge back into the community.
A common limitation in some of the example initiatives is the degree to which the participants could really engage with the resources and become user-producers - participants in the full cycle of "libre knowledge resource development": find, use/learn and/or compose, and share.
Participation in peer production of knowledge/learning resources is the next step - towards participation in the global knowledge society, towards equality.
For millions (billions even?) such earlier steps (innovative uses of what is available) may be invaluable as a start and in terms of preparation for the next step.
OER and libre knowledge resources are an important part of the process of enabling (physical and effective) access by virtue of the freedoms the users have to use, modify, compose, mix and share the resources. More broadly, they are an important part of the process leading to effective participation in the global knowledge society.
K 03:25, 12 February 2009 (CET)
1.3 8.3 How Tos
Guides have been written to some of the access initiatives listed above. The "How Tos" page has a list of resources which could be packaged in a collection of access guides. Each may need to be updated and adapted for a particular situation (after being evaluated for suitability).