FLOSS4Edu Open Educational Resources Workshop Report

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Contents

Introduction

Under the sponsorship of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the FLOSS4Edu initiative organized a two day workshop in Nairobi from the 22nd – 23rd of November, 2006 with the overall objective of defining the way forward in regards to mobilizing a sustainable Open Educational Resources Development Community as outlined in the FLOSS4Edu strategic plan. The workshop had the following objectives:

  1. To bring together a selected number of educational practioners from across the East African region to discuss the role of Free and Open Educational Resources in the East African Region
  2. To identify innovative and creative ways of partnerships to build Open Educational Resources as a direct input in the provision of life long learning and alternative education for all
  3. To establish a content development group to spearhead the development of Free and Open Educational Resources in Africa
  4. To demonstrate and highlight several content production and dissemination technologies that can be used in the development of Free and Open Educational Resources


The workshop brought together a total of Thirty Three participants including:

  • 2 Senior Government Representatives from the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communication and the Ministry of Education
  • 16 senior educational practitioners and scholars from various Universities in the East African Region
  • 6 International delegates
  • 3 Private Sector representatives
  • 5 representatives from higher education student communities

For details of the agenda and a list of participants for this workshop see Appendix.

Workshop Proceedings

The workshop proceeded as per the agenda. Discussions focused on the status of the development of digital educational content in various institutions represented within the meeting. The wiki technology was discussed and showcased during the meeting. The FLOSS4Edu initiative was also discussed and its mandate and vision outlined. The common challenges/obstacles, opportunities and the way forward as defined by the delegates are defined below.


OBSTACLES/CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES SPECIFIC TO THIS REGION CONCLUSION
  • Lack of Skills and Capacity coupled with low literacy level
  • Resistance to change and lack of institutional commitment
  • Lack of ICT infrastructure and Connectivity
  • Lack of Funding and Financial Support
  • Lack of Awareness
  • Lack of Leadership at Institutional level
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Lack of documentation culture
  • Lack of Formal accreditation
  • Lack of technical support
  • Lack of effective Collaboration
  • Improper modalities to assure Compensation for developers
  • Existence of a lot of original content and Indigenous
  • There is a strong African culture of sharing resources
  • There is a huge demand for content
  • There is a great potential to Leverage on existing opportunities and initiatives
  • There is a great potential to tap onto existing OSS tools for use in Open Content Production
  • Reduced costs for deployment of solutions (Lower TCO) by leveraging lower labour costs, savings through sharing and tremendous attitude shift with the youth towards ICT
  • Opportunities for localization of content development
  • There is existing goodwill within the Government
  • The workshop provided the first opportunity to build a community of scholars which can be extended to cover other scholars in other regions and other fields
  • Leveraging on emerging technologies eg. Mobile telephony where there is a potential to reach more people and to have participation from many more who are currently not included because of lack of computing resources
The group agreed to constitute itself as the first group of Open Educational Content producers. It was agreed that the group will support the FLOSS4Edu group in its activities to mobilize the first group of African Content Developers.

Though the modalities of governance and running of the group were to be discussed in details through the mailing lists and online discussions, it was also agreed that the development of Open Content should start immediately. Inline with the achievements of the FLOSS4Edu Initiative Objectives. The immediate main objectives of this newly formed group will be:

  • To focus on promotional activities and creating awareness
  • To work towards Capacity Building
  • To work together towards building Collaboration involving scholars, students, and the general public

It was also identified that the target groups for this immediate action items will be University Students ,University staff .Secondary school teachers and Primary school teachers

Discussions on the various institutional experiences proceeded through out the first day. In line with the FLOSS4Edu initiative, the following issues were cross-cutting:

  1. Most of the content production going on is closed and based at the institutional level with little collaboration towards creation of open digital content. The main reason attributed to this was the lack of awareness on the benefits of collaboration and the impact that Open Educational resources can create in the society. It was noted as important to begin institutional collaboration in the development of shared content which can be available to various institutions. The modalities of how this can be achievable will be discussed within the FLOSS4Edu discussion lists
  2. It was noted that there was a need to begin work on a showcase of open educational resources. A group of lecturers and other educational practitioners was formed to begin work on the development of Chemistry and Physical Sciences Open Educational Content for Higher Learning. This content will be made available through the WikiEducator and will be hosted within the www.wikieducator.org site
  3. In order to address the lack of awareness issue on open content, there is a need to organize a promotional event through out the African region / globally dubbed “A day for Open Content” which will be a yearly event organized as part of the Software Freedom Day. The role of this promotional campaign will be to dedicate a single day where everyone will be encouraged to develop some content which can be shared across. Details on how this will be achieved will also be discussed within the mailing lists
  4. To address the issue of lack of skills, the meeting agreed that there is a need to develop educational resources that can be used to educate others on ways of creating open educational content and to use existing facilities within the Wikieducator. The group agreed to participate in the development of open educational resources for content production. These resources will be available freely available to educational practitioners and other interested parties including wikipedians to conduct relevant training on the development of open educational resources

Strategic Outcomes

The strategic vision of the FLOSS4Edu Initiative is By 2009 to make available appropriate educational content and a set of easy to use FLOSS tools to 100 educational institutions while building the largest community of educational practitioners collaborating on the development of Free and Open Educational Resources. The FLOSS4Edu strategy revolves around of six (6) strategic pillars which are:

  1. Build a strong community around FLOSS4Edu project.
  2. Carry out promotional activities to improve awareness of FLOSS for Education solutions
  3. Support capacity building initiatives and develop relevant OER’s for installation and pedagogical support
  4. Collaboratively work together towards the development of wiki based open educational content
  5. Establish alternative FLOSS distribution channels bearing in mind that there is an evident lack of sufficient bandwidth resources in the region.
  6. Establish effective sustainability processes to ensure the FLOSS4Edu project remain sustainable after a period of initial two (2) years.

As outlined in the FLOSS4Edu strategic plan, this workshop served to achieve the following FLOSS4Edu Strategic Action items:

  1. This workshop was the first to receive endorsements from the Government with the Kenyan Government (Ministry of Information and Communication and the Ministry of Education ) applauding the initiative and pledging support to this initiative because of it perceived impact.
  2. This workshop formed the first group of Open Educational Content producers from Africa dubbed "FLOSS4Edu Open Educational Content Developers Group" – FLOSS4Edu OECD Group and willing to start producing content on the following:
    • Physical Chemistry Open Educational Resources for Higher Educational Institutions
    • Technical Documentation on Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) with relevance to Education
    • Open Educational Resources for Open Educational Content Development
  3. These first initiatives will create the critical mass necessary to begin creating open content on a large scale in this region. Lessons learned from these initiatives will also be shared with others through the wikieducator site.
  4. This workshop established the first loose network of higher education institution practioners working towards building support for Open Educational Content among the student population within the various universities in the East African region. The student population will play a very critical role in building mass support for content production and sharing in Africa
  5. This workshop set the ground for the first massive campaign for the promotion of open educational content through an agreement to start lobbying and building institutional support towards the “One Day for Open Content” celebrations to be held during the Software Freedom Day (SFD) Celebrations beginning the year 2007
  6. The workshop group agreed to support plans to seek financial support from various development partners for the FLOSS4Edu Initiative upon the receipt of endorsement from the Commonwealth of Learning among other stakeholders.

Plan of Action

An immediate plan of action was developed where the delegates committed themselves to actions identified within the three priority areas identified at the workshop. As part of awareness creation a group of workshop participants agreed to work on promotional activities in their various institutions more specifically:

  1. The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) will install Media Wiki and make it available to students all across the University
  2. The South African Institute for Distance Education will do an article in their newsletter about the initiative and the workshop
  3. The University of Dar es Salaam will contribute on the Wiki, Send Information on the University Mailing List and Spread Information to Students and to other FLOSS practitioners

As part of capacity building the following specific actions items received commitments from the workshop attendants:

  1. Egerton University to conduct s one day wiki training for key staff at the University
  2. NairobiNet will donate some of their commercial content and make it available as open content to be hosted within the wiki educator. It will also embark on a process to being content development for schools
  3. Individual Initiatives to create content relating to IT Security and Content Digitalization will also be placed on the wiki educator
  4. UNESCO pledged to consider funding proposals for content production under the umbrella of the FLOSS4Edu Initiative

As for content development, a group of six (6) scholars and lecturers in the area of physical chemistry committed themselves to produce physical chemistry content for undergraduates teaching courses. The FLOSS4Edu Initiative will support this and help in coordinating fund raising efforts.

As a way forward, the FLOSS4Edu Initiative will undertake the following action items:

  1. Invite all members of the FLOSS4Edu Initiative and other stakeholders to participate on a process to develop a Project Charter for the FLOSS4Edu Process. This is a collaborative process that will be useful in defining the mandate of the FLOSS4Edu Initiative and help in refining its vision.
  2. Seek long-term funding for the FLOSS4Edu project to establish and support a Secretariat that will offer management and technical support to all FLOSS4Edu Initiatives
  3. Begin a process to fund raise for the development of the first physical chemistry open educational content materials from the FLOSS4Edu Initiative. This will create a unique showcase i.e a demonstrator project, that can be adopted by others and can be used to attract more participation.Since the content developers are not IT Technical specialist, technical support will have to be provided to the group. Technical Support will be provided to:
    • Digitalise educational resources produced in manual form developing appropriate format designs representative of the pedagogical objectives outlined by the content developers
    • Develop and Integrate multimedia content including video, audio and flash animation
    • Upload, Publish and Host the developed content in wiki format on the wikieducator.org website
    • Participate in the development of Technical Solutions e.g A .pdf writer for Wiki that will support the distribution of free content to learners and other stakeholders that do not have access to sufficient bandwidth or connectivity
  4. Support the promotional campaign of “One Day for Open Content” to be held with the Software Freedom Day celebrations as a yearly event
  5. Participate in the development of OERs for Open Content Production and providing support for the building of Technical Solutions to address gaps on content production activities through the FLOSS philosophy. Most notable is the development of a pdf writer for wiki as this will enable the distribution of free content to learners who don't have connectivity or sufficient access to bandwidth.
  6. Continue pursuing its strategic vision outlined in its strategic plan of action

Lessons Learned

Workshops are an integral part of spreading awareness on the FLOSS4Edu Initiative, however, if not properly organised and constituted, the workshops may not be successful. This section of the report will outline the lessons learned in this workshop with the objective of making future workshops even more successful. It is noted that workshops may not be effective in all the cases but must be combined with other forms of discussions to achieve meaningful results while cutting on workshop costs. Experiences during this workshop indicate that a face to face workshop will be useful as a way of pushing for personal/institutional support. During the workshop, all participants committed to participate on an particular action item that is related to the project. This may not be achievable through online discussions.

This workshop showed that integrating discussions on shared experiences and practical training sessions will yield more distinct commitments as the practical sessions help to illustrate or solve some of the obstacles identified during the shared experiences sessions. This gives a new sense of satisfaction with the knowledge that problems can be solved. A practical face to face session led by a knowledgeable subject leader will create more impact especially here in Africa. Though successful, a workshop of this nature needs to be scaled to reach more people. The logistic costs of facilitating a workshop of this nature may be prohibitive as costs can easily escalate.

More specifically, the following lessons were learned from this workshop:

  1. That Open Discussions Sessions have more impact than presented-led structured sessions. Open Discussions engage the participant and gets the participants to discuss possible solutions to common problems. This will have a significant effect in defining the way forward
  2. That a workshop of this nature should be used to culminate ongoing offline/online discussions. For the case of this workshop, discussions had already started on the establishment of the first group to begin developing OER's in Physical Chemistry. The workshop served to cement this further and allow the group to define its modus operandi.
  3. That Government and Institutional Support is very critical in achieving meaningful impact on a workshop of this nature. It was also noted that getting institutional support to initiatives of this nature will require post-workshop follow-ups and will require additional institutional discussions and other forms of collaboration.

Rating this workshop as successful, it is important that future FLOSS4Edu Initiative workshop are accompanied by training sessions where participants can get some practical skills to produce open educational content.FLOSS4Edu Initiative will work with the Learn4Content Initiative and will rely on the use of African Wikipedians, Teachers, Students and other stakeholders to conduct workshops of this nature in exchange for content produced. It may be necessary to pay the facilitators a small fee to conduct the workshop and especially the training sessions while the participants will be required to pay for this training through contributing at least one module in the FLOSS4Edu content repository. The need for a workshop shall be determined through a series of online discussions between members of a particular group and if consensus on the need of the workshop is arrived at, then a workshop of the above nature will be held. As many workshops can be held to as may be required to achieve the objectives.

APPENDIX

FLOSS4EDU Participant List

Country SurName First Name Title Organisation

Kenya

Kimolo Nicholas Managing Director Rock Media

South Africa

Louw Jenny Coordinator, Information Services South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE)

Lesotho

Seutloali Vincent Sechaba Director Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre (LDTC)

Cameroon

KOUMTOUZOUA Jibril TOUZI ICT Manager PMUC

Canada

Wayne Mackintosh Education Specialist Commonwealth of Learning

Tanzania

Nfuka Eriphaz Head - University Computing Services University of Dar-es Salaam

Kenya

Prof.Thairu Henry Former Deputy VC (DVC-Academic JKUAT) Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)

Uganda

James Wire Lughambo Director EACOSS

Kenya

Dr. Ndemo Bitange Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information & Communication

Kenya

Dr. Waweru Ronald Mwangi Director, Institute of Computer Science and Information Technology Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)

Kenya

Mr. Sammy Buruchara Managing Director NairobiNet

Kenya

Dr. Seville Joseph Deputy VC-Research and Quality Assurance Strathmore University

Kenya

Ms. Dorcas Muthoni Senior ICT Enngineer Kenya Education Network (KENET)

Kenya

Prof. Karega Mutahi Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

Kenya

Prof. Omwenga Elijah Director Nairobi University Information Technology Services - University of Nairobi

Kenya

Kyalo Victor Managing Director Kenya Education Network (KENET) and Ubuntu Alliance

Kenya

Prof. Chacha Salima Associate Professor Physical Chemistry Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)

Kenya

Dr. Torongey Peter Dean Faculty of Science Moi University

Kenya

Prof. Kagwanja Stanley Director self Sponsored Programmes Egerton University

Kenya

Dr. Muthakia G.K. Senior Lecturer , Chemistry Dept. Kenyatta University

Kenya

Dr. Chege Gerald Assistant Professor School of Business United States international University

Kenya

Muinde Paul ICT Manager DayStar University

Kenya

Clement Maina Student University of Nairobi

Kenya

Prof. Kashorda Meoli Director-Information Technology Strathmore University

Kenya

Dr. Githeko Jason KENET Board member Egerton University

Kenya

Dr. Lusweti John Senior Lecture Chem dept Moi University

Kenya

Dr. Ngure D.K. Senior Lecturer , Dept. information Technology. Kenyatta University

Kenya

Dr. Karuu Peter Senior Lecturer Dept. of chemistry University of Nairobi

Ghana

Kwesi Smith Developer Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT

Ghana

Hezekiel Dlamini Advisor for Communication and Information UNESCO, Accra

5 members of the students communities from various universites.

FLOSS4Edu Workshop Presentations

Prof. Gerald W. Chege : e-Learning: USIU’s Experience

Meoli Kashorda. : e-learning experiences - Managing change

Sammy Buruchara : e-Learning in Kenya - NairobiNet Experience

Victor Kyalo : Content Development Approach for Higher Education

JM Githeko : Experiences with Developing Experiences with Developing Digital Content at Egerton Digital Content at Egerton University

Kwesi Smith : A developers perspective on the development of Open Educational Resources and the Centre's Experiences

Prof Karega Mutahi: Speech of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Kenya

FLOSS4Edu Workshop Program

FLOSS4Edu Workshop Agenda/Program

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