Access2OER talk:Open Educational Resource Centres
1 Establishing (Open Educational) Resource centres
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|Quote image||1. Look into the existing structures in different countries and build on it where one exists. For example, some years back, Nigeria use to have National Educational Technology Center (NETC) in Kaduna, some States Ministry of Education use to have Education Resources Center (ERC) in their capitals, Some Universities do have Audio-visual centers (AVC) or the like, and some Local Government use to have Local School Management Boards LSMB). Cooperative Societies (CS) existing in many communities. UNESCO could look into these or similar structures in developing countries and map out how to networked them together to connect the rural communities.
NETC and ERC/AVC should have access to the internet and create browsing rooms for teachers for free or at very minimal costs. LSMBs should have dedicated server or even intranet to archive materials. Community learning centers should have at least one computer with solar energy system with enough power to run the computer or small low cost generator.
2. OER persons. You will need people with dedicated time. Existing staff member at each level can be purposely trained, and form a network or community of practice. Let us look at a scenario for upscaling and/or downscaling. The NETC professionals look into OER sites available on the internet. Seek permission from content owners in collaboration with UNESCO and similar agencies and other donors allow NETC to make replicates on Servers that can be distributed down the line up to the LSMBs intranet. NETC and ETC has the responsibility to update information their server on weekly bases at the latest. Teachers or resource person within the proximity of ERC should be free to go and browse both online and off-line content. Where the city school teachers found suitable materials for example geography lessons, ERC should be able to gather popular OER resources that many geography teachers are downloading. Burn them on CDs/DVD and send copies to LSMBs who in turn should make copies for each of the community learning center in their jurisdictions for remote community teachers to use as well. And where a remote community teacher sees a need that is not fully met. The resource person at the community level could send catalogue of such request to ERC via the LSMB.
3. Mobile phone is spreading very fast in developing countries, where telephone access is available, communities could take advantage of it to connect LSMBs and ERCs and vice versa.
4. The “one laptop per child” project or the proposed “one PSP per child” can be connected. I expect “one laptop per school” to be in place, at the least, or how are the teachers expected to prepare for educational effectiveness of the “one laptop per child”?
2 Further thoughts
How could the current OER community be helpful with such a proposal. One question is "How do you improve existing structures?", including "How do you connect the rural community?"
There are various strategies, and one proposal would be to develop OER training materials on this. For instance, the training materials might address:
- How do you connect a rural school? How do you get affordable connectivity? How do you share a connection?
- How do you bandwidth manage the connection, to make optimal use of the bandwidth?
- How do you put together robust, maintainable, low-power ICT equipment? (What are the cost implications of solar power, deep cycle batteries, generator?)
- How do you obtain OER materials for local use?
- What training do you provide on ICT and OER?
- How do you overcome 'brain drain', where trained persons leave for better jobs?
Of course much has already been written on this, but often documentation focusses either just on the ICT/hardware/connectivity aspects or on the OER aspects. For instance, there are plenty of instructions on installing Ubuntu, and there are plenty of instructions of installing Moodle. However, a while back I was struggling to put something together that goes like this:
- Here's a blank computer.
- Here's how you install Ubuntu/Edubuntu/LTSP
- Here's how you install moodle
- Here's how you get an OCW content package from MIT
- Here's how you get that content package into moodle.
- Here's how you do meaningful training / learning with that content package.
On their own, each of these issues has got recipes and solutions on the Internet, but they pertain to different communities, and in my view it's actually quite hard for a single individual to bridge that whole spectrum. However, in a rural ICT situation, the above spectrum is only a subset of the required skills. So there could be a call for training (and associated OER materials), that try to give a holistic picture, going all the way from an empty, rural building, to an OER equipped training centre.
3 From Kim Tucker
It would be useful to have a comprehensive, integrated guide.
It might also be useful to list existing components which may be adapted and updated for any specific implementation situation.
Here are a few:
OCW Toolkit: http://www.ocwconsortium.org/share/toolkit.html
WirelessAfrica: set up a wireless mesh network http://wirelessafrica.meraka.org.za/wiki/index.php/HowTos
and perhaps others could be shared on the list and added to this page: Access2OER:HowTos
It might turn out to be a significant challenge to list all the resources and design a tool to compose/select a set suitable for a given situation. Our classification (for a purpose) issue arises again: here the purpose is to select resources in terms of their suitability in certain types of access to learning scenarios.
This task (designing a solution and selecting relevant learning and other resources) could be done when needed, and the project could focus on Methodology, research, collaboration, preparation (of the next custom guide) and mobilising multidisciplinary teams for implementation.
3.1 Add-on Proposal: the guidelines in action and research
Facilitate/convene events in communities for hands-on learning leading to a new situation.
For example, by the end of a one week event a community has
- one of their schools networked with
- a Moodle server, perhaps on a "digital doorway" or equivalent
- a host of free/libre learning resources,
- a mobile learning kit,
- a custom eGranary library,
- a facility to print and produce CD/DVD collections,
and the skills/knowledge to
- reinstall the software,
- administer/use the system,
- get help,
- develop their own locally relevant learning resources and on-line
- set up another school similarly
- use and adapt the guides we develop for local conditions and
mobilise social entrepreneurs and others to generate further success stories.
(or some other solution appropriate for the context)
The community may also be primed in the months leading up to the event in terms of readiness (awareness, preparation, on-line learning, identifying business opportunities around sustaining the initiative, etc.).
In some cases, the school (for example) could become a hub for community wireless networking with links to other public facilities which may become similarly (internally) networked.
Ideally, the event should be locally led/run, optionally with a few "imported" experts for train the trainer type sessions.
During the lead-up to an event (several weeks/months with prospective participants), the new, peer-produced learning materials may be shared widely to enable pre-event preparation and permit others to apply the knowledge.
Lists and considerations, etc.:
- Logical Analysis (or other approach to conceptualise the event/initiative)
- Principles of engagement
- cultural sensitivity
- community-initiated and community-led
- communicate, collaborate, cooperate, learn from/with and augment
- asset based/ appreciative approach
- embracing change (agile)
- on-going learning and sharing (action research, ...)
- Curriculum elements
- etc. (see below)
- Existing relevant learning resources to adapt and include
- Partners (educational, cultural, local communities, event organisation, ...)
- NB It takes a special combination of people to pull off something like this
- engage with people who have the relevant experience.
- NB It takes a special combination of people to pull off something like this
Funding for developing the initial set of integrated resources and for the events could come from various sources.
4 From Moyo
Thanks for the outline. I believe that as OER community continues to reflect on them, there will be more "food FROM thoughts."
To begin with your question "How do you improve existing structures?" One needs to know what structures or infrastructures are currently in place and where? How are they operating? For example, the NETC in Nigeria I used to know as a student is not listed on the Educational Resource Parastatals in the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Education website when I visited it today. Which may suggest that it is no longer existing. Whereas, National Teachers Institute (NTI), Kaduna is listed, among others.
Now, let us assume we have identified the likes of NTI in needing countries, from Afghanistan to Ethiopia to Georgia to Nigeria to Sudan etc. Then the question "How do you improve existing structures?" Here again, let us take for example Cliff's "eGranary Digital Library" or similar OER online and offline portals. Some Universities and private training institute have it but does NTI who is responsible for providing professional training to thousands of Nigerian teachers down the line to the rural communities has it. If not why? Even though some universities have it, they do not have direct responsibility for the teachers and the poor rural communities.
When UNESCO and/or other educational agencies have the "why" information, and identify the gap, then it becomes easier to bring all such similar OER to their awareness, and where a little funding and/or training is required for its adoption, UNESCO could possibly source funds or contact potential donors.
And this can be done down the line to the LSMBs.
At the level of LSMB or the likes, you can connect the rural communities because that is where the direct responsibilities lay. How?
Some investments may be required at the level of LSMBs to connect the rural communities. Therefore, the "How?" will depend on funding that is available at a given time because some communities are more rural than the other.
Let us say I am still in the community where I taught as a high school teacher today. Moderately rural community, by personal judgment, with population close to 10,000. It has two secondary schools with student population of over 250 each. It has a health center, and community cooperative society (CS). But no electricity, and limited transportation.
My school has 10 teaching staff. Assuming that there are up-to-date eGranary and other OERs available at the LSMB level. I will need the following to be able to make effective use of the resources.
- · At least 2 computers: one to connect the eGranary storage, and when for a projector
- · A projector and projection screen
- · Power source: Although the school has a generator but most often it cannot be used because it is either spare parts problem or fuel scarcity. Alternatively, solar energy system that can power the two computers and projector will be the idea. Sunlight is in abundance.
- · Printer (optional)
The same will be needed for the other school and the health center. But let just focus on my school for now.
The connection between the school and LSMB’s OER. Two possibilities exist:
- 1. Although transportation is limited, the school head has a car and visits the LSMB office at least once a week. He can always bring up-dates to the eGranary or OER on USB and the like.
- 2. With the help of the mobile phone access to rural communities, this day many people just phone relatives in the city at the transport terminal to buy items and send them to the village through the driver at a minimal charge, and drivers are honestly delivering products because villagers too can call the driver to confirm receipt and determine arrival time. I learnt some LSMBs are already using this method to send school supplies or school requesting stationeries from stores.
Although my access to information is an off-line type, it will go along way in helping me and other teachers accomplish our tasks. And the same will be true with the health center, if the nurses have up-to-date information on procedures to handle certain health complications that modern science just discovered.
The approach to the community learning center (CLC) of the CS will be somehow different because for the school and the health center, existing personnel are used. For the CLC, trained personnel may be required or in some communities where there are village sectaries, they can serve as valuable OER person because in most cases they a high school graduates who resides within the community.
As I said earlier, communities varied, some may not require as much as in my scenario above while others may require double efforts.
Where possible, you might even start directly at the LSMB level if the regulations in a given country allow it.
Cliff may throw more lights on their experience with getting eGranary into countries.
4.1 Computer requirements: Bjoern
You mentioned computer requirements for the schools. As part of an Aptivate activity in Zambia, I have been been involved in some rural ICT training, and you might be interested in having a look at a brief overview of this here: http://www.ict4e.net/wiki/Samfya#The_equipment http://www.ict4e.net/wiki/Samfya#Lubwe_Youth_Skills_Centre
The first section talks about the use of thin clients, to maximise energy efficiency and robustness, while the 2nd section talks about a local model of sharing a VSAT connection to reduce costs and provide some connectivity. I'll summarise the above page for the present discussion lateron.
4.2 Tom Caswell
I agree with Moyo's thoughts on building within existing structures. His anecdote gives context to seeking support at the local level, and illustrates the kinds of barriers that can only be overcome by a local, "bottom-up" approach.
Bjoern's ideas about gathering tools and best practices are intereseting because this kind of effort would give the OER community a reason to pull together the best resources into a kind of toolkit. I think the idea of a Ubuntu-based, portable OER implementation is well within reach. Something that can access and store locally MIT OCW courses and other high quality OER content packages, which would then be locally modifiable and redistributable. All of this is already possible with eduCommons, which runs great on Ubuntu. If people prefer Moodle, I'm sure it could be done there too.
Tom Caswell is right. We can also use WikiEducator (www.wikieducator.org) for this OER organizing.