Learning4Content/Workshops/Face-to-Face schedule/L4C15/Workshop Report
Face-to-Face WikiEducator Workshop Report
The facilitator wishes to thank the following:
- Dr. Ivaldo Quincardete, Director, Human Resources, Ministry of Education & Culture (MEC), for his opening and closing remarks, and for the support he demonstrated to Open and Distance Learning (ODL) on behalf of the MEC,
- Dr. Messias Matusse, Director IEDA, for his presence and support at the opening of the workshop,
- Dr. Antonio Domingues Franque, Director, INED, for his vision, hard work, tremendous support, energy and commitment to engaging multiple institutions in collaborative work to further the development of ODL through technology in Mozambique,
- Dra. Lurdes Nakala, Serviços de Acreditação e Formação, INED, for her support during the preparation of the workshop, her participation in the workshop and for her enthusiasm,
- Dr. Coitado Ualane, Serviços de Rede dos Centros Provinciais de EAD, INED, for his active participation in the workshop, enthusiasm and sense of humour,
- Dra. Belmira Macucha, Administração e Finanças, INED, for her continuing effort to participate in spite of the pressures to tend to daily financial issues,
- Dr. Teresa Ferreira, Manager of the Maputo Learning Centre, INED, for her unconditional participation in spite of having to deal with the day-to-day running of the Centre
- Dr. Sergio Cossa, Planificação, Administração e Finanças, INED, for his efforts to actively participate
- The Maputo Learning Centre technical staff for their administrative support and technical expertise; and for their willingness to assist with usage issues and to support the facilitator with technical issues,
- All lecturers/participants who actively participated in the workshop and contributed to its success!
Introduction and Background
This workshop was organised as a result of discussions between Paul West and Wayne Mackintosh from the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Antonio Franque, the Director of INED. Their vision to continue to support the provision of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Mozambique to address both formal and non-formal learning, was anchored in the need to develop technical skills in web 2.0 tools aimed at facilitating the implementation of programmes to be delivered at a distance. WikiEducator was identified as one of the technologies that higher education institutions, currently offering ODL programmes, can use in their provision models. Within this context, 14 organisations were identified to participate in the WikiEducator training, as follows:
- Monitor International School
INED, Maputo Learning Centre.
Attendance of the 22 registered participants was very consistent, with the exception of INED staff who had to attend to day-to-day business. Participants from all 14 institutions were very committed to the workshop and attended every day of the workshop regularly.
Participants were eager to learn and engaged in meaningful interaction, contributing to more effective hands-on learning. The venue was very well equipped with fast desktop computers and wireless network access. There was one computer per participant and although the wireless access was very convenient, it was somewhat slow. INED does not have a very fast connection and on top of that, the connectivity was shared by all 23 participants at the same time, which contributed to slow screen displays and uploading of files, especially images. The workshop room was very conducive to group work and the working conditions were excellent, if one ignores the disagreements surrounding when to turn A/C on and off :-)
Of the 22 participants, 6 were female. All participants were very committed to looking for ways to integrate WikiEducator with the education and training training programmes within their own institutions.
In preparation for the workshop, Lurdes Nakala and Antonio Franque exchanged emails with Rosario to address the requirements to guarantee the successful implementation of the workshop:
- Technical requirements: Number of computers available, Internet connectivity and access to WikiEducator site
- Software requirements: Download and installation of the Open Office suite in each computer
- Translation requirements: Translation of all handouts and slides into Portuguese
- Administrative requirements: Reproduction of support materials (handouts), reproduction of learning contracts and registration forms, review of plan of work, agenda, and brief overview of the presentation slides.
Since the facilitator was hired to translate the online tutorials, she had focused on that while in Kenya. However, seeing that the online tutorials wouldn't be used in the Mozambique workshop, she changed her priorities to translating the handouts and slides. It was agreed that she would work on the translation during her work term in Kenya and would provide the translated materials to the INED staff upon arrival in Mozambique on the Sunday before the workshop start schedule on the following Tuesday. That would still give INED staff enough time to reproduce materials in a timely manner.
On the Monday before the start of the workshop, Rosario met with INED staff at the workshop venue to verify that all was in place to host the workshop and to develop a mutually agreed to Agenda in Portuguese. We tested the Internet access and realised it would be slow, but not enough to prevent us from covering all Agenda items. The technical staff at INED was invaluable in ensuring that all technical issues were addressed quickly and swiftly.
- The agenda
- The learning contract
- The registration form
- Print outs of the 11 workshop lesson notes (about 75 pages)
- The electronic copies of the lesson notes and the lesson presentation slides
- Other useful items such as:
- a copy of the WikiEducator cheat-sheet
- a copy of the WikiEducator list of pedagogical templates
- a copy of Open Office
- Two books on e-learning (pdf format): Education for a Digital World and Theory of Practice of Online Learning
- COL's Creating Learning Materials for Open and Distance Learning: a Handbook for Authors & Instructional Designers (pdf format)
- Enable participants to create, format, edit and revise content in Wiki format;
- Enable participants to use the communications tools in WikiEducator to promote collaborative work;
- Enable participants to manage the collaborative work, compare work versions and revert to previous versions.
It was not possible to cover the 11 tutorials that comprise the Learning 4 Content workshop and have a full day for application. We were able to cover 9 tutorials and provide 1/2 day for participants to practice with their own content. This was due mainly to the following factors:
- Slow Internet connectivity: average of 40 - 60 seconds to display each screen;
- Technical difficulties with Internet access: unreliable wireless Internet connection caused Internet to break down a few times. Although this was not the norm, it slowed down the progress of the work when it occurred;
- Uneven participant computer usage skills: The fact that some participants were more literate than others in the use of computers meant that there were two identifiable "factions" in the group:
- The more knowledgeable group was able to move quickly through the initial tutorials and resolved all activities promptly. As the work progressed, this group tended to show signs of impatience towards the less experienced group, causing some uneasiness as the facilitator tried to support the participants facing higher level of difficulty. It also meant that the facilitator had to slow down the overall progression of the work, so that the users with poorer computer skills weren't left behind;
- The group with less computer usage experience and therefore with less computer literacy skills, required more support from the facilitator, hence slowing down the progression of the work;
The concept of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Free/Libre content generated heated debate and lengthy discussion. Most participants were not familiar with OERs and had to be engaged in critical thinking to realise the benefits of the free content movement. The issue of compensation for their work was latent in all discussions. As we concluded the discussions the group was more tolerant to entertain the concept of openness in educational resources.
Following the introduction of WikiEducator, participants were led to create their own accounts and "sandboxes" in the system; after which they started to learn basic text editing skills, using both the formatting tool bar and the wiki syntax. Since some participants were showing some signs of difficulty in learning these editing skills, they were given a bit more time to practice, using their own content.
As the basic editing skills were mastered, including all types of formatting, participants were able to move on to manipulating images in WikiEducator and to inserting internal and external links into their content. Slowly, all participants were able to insert and manipulate images in their own user pages. They were also keen to insert links to external sites and to look for internal information to link to their pages. The workshop was wrapped up after covering the use use of pedagogic templates in WikiEducator, as learners wanted some opportunity to further practice with their own content and have access to the facilitator. They also wanted to polish their own user sites rather than continue with tutorials 10 and 11.
By the end of the Learning 4 Content workshop, participants were able to:
- Create and maintain their accounts in WikiEducator,
- Add and edit text in WikiEducator,
- Format text in WikiEducator,
- Use formatting for numbered and bulleted lists,
- Insert internal and external links in their content pages,
- Identify pedagogical templates in WikiEducator and plan for their utilization with their own content.
- Insert pedagogical templates in their designs and use them to produce their own content.
Upon completion of the workshop, here are some of the lessons learned:
- The existing Agenda for the Learning 4 Content workshops is too ambitious to be delivered in three days when the Internet connectivity is slow and/or unreliable;
- Internet access speed impacts the ability to deliver the workshop content in its entirety. In these situations, students should be registered or encouraged to register in the online tutorials;
- When working environments match the described above, consider a 4 days workshop, to allow for time for participants to produce their own lessons
- Assess computer literacy of participants prior to workshop and devise a strategy to group them into more homogeneous work groups. The more advanced users can start with the online tutorials and come together with the whole group for discussions and questions.
- Wiki skills are easy to learn, even for users that do not have a lot of computer literacy skills. However, it is important that extra time is allotted to ensure that all users have a chance to practice and apply the learned skills;
- The learn by doing format is very appreciated by all participants;
- Give participants some resource readings on OERs and the open source movement in advance of the workshop. It will assist them in critically debating the concept of WikiEducator;
Issues for INED
- Institutional commitment: INED continues to demonstrate tremendous commitment to working collaborative with other ODL providers to develop local capacity in the use of technologies for teaching and learning at a distance.
- Participants' commitment: Workshop participants seemed to be very committed to supporting the design and development of both formal and non-formal learning initiatives at a distance through a variety of methodologies. Unfortunately, not all the institutions will be able to make available a working environment where they can continue to apply their knowledge and practice the use of technology. For example, some institutions like IEDA don't even have access to the Internet and staff do not have email access.
- Institutional Infrastructure improvement: It is important that the participating institutions focus on improving their existing technical infrastructure in order to be able to provide ODL initiatives through technology. INED can play a facilitating role in encouraging these institutions to ensure that participants will have ample opportunity to practice the learned skills. I referred Franque to Computer Aid International, which refurbishes Pentium 3 and 4 computers to supply them to educational institutions in developing countries at highly discounted prices;
- Capacity development: Continuing to develop capacity within institutions that are providing ODL programmes and/or support, as is the case of INED, is of paramount importance to support the design and delivery of quality, sustainable distance learning programmes.
- There seems to be enough institutional commitment from participants and their respective institutions. Therefore it will be important to continue to support INED at varying levels. Here are some suggestions:
- Making further WikiEducator training available to INED and other institutions in Mozambique;
- Encourage some INED staff and the computer literate participants to register in advanced WikiEducator training online (available from COL)
- Initiatives to encourage the development of local partnerships and the promotion of institutional collaboration