Learning4Content/Workshops/Face-to-Face schedule/L4C26/Workshop Report
The two back-to-back workshops ran for 2.5 days each from 17th-19th and 19th - 21st December, with Joris Komen as facilitator
I'm very grateful for the financial and moral support provided by Commonwealth of Learning, and Patricia, Wayne and Paul in particular, Elda Maletzki of NAMCOL for local logistic support, volumes of enthusiasm and great teas, staff of Polytechnic of Namibia for providing the venue and ensuring that bandwidth was bearable :-), and all the wide spectrum of participants for making the concerted effort, even though some were 'instructed', to be there and gain some hopefully useful wiki (and other social networking) skills <smile>!
Introduction and Background
Originally orchestrated by Norah Bennett of NAMCOL while I was still in Samoa, this back-to-back set of two workshops in Namibia was undertaken with the understanding that members of the educational sector involved in ICT development in Namibia would gain Wiki skills. NOLNet, in particular, is trying to move skills and knowledge content learned during COL VUSSC "Bootcamps" forward, and expressed a wish to have a workshop for NOLNet stakeholders in mid November on WIKI editing skills. Norah contacted COL and me, and we agreed on some guiding principles, and the end result was a set of two back-to-back 2.5 day workshops in the week of the 17th - 21st November, with some 30 participants from line-function ministries, the University of Namibia, Polytechnic of Namibia, the Colleges of Education and NAMCOL.
Seven participants turned up out of the expected 15 for the first workshop, all of whom signed their learning contracts, except for one. Sixteen participants turned up for the second workshop. In both workshops the participants represented a very wide skills demographic, with several entry-level computer users mixed in with some very skilled educational professionals, subject developers and even seasoned wiki users.
Host searching, venue booking, participant scouting, invitations, follow-up on invited participants, technical arrangements (software and hardware considerations), contingency arrangements, budgeting, and other administrative arrangements in Namibia were conducted by the Norah Bennett and Elda Maletzki of NOLNET.
The venue at the Polytechnic has the capacity to serve up to 30 participants on a 1-to-1 computer basis. Polytechnic staff ensured that GIMP was pre-installed on Microsoft boxes, but unfortunately neither Firefox nor OpenOffice were preloaded. The older version of MS Exploder did not allow for tabs, which meant a fair bit of confusion for entry-level participants. Bandwidth was very bad on the first day, but Laurent Evrard, Director of Computer Services was able to secure better bandwidth for the rest of both workshops. A day before the workshop, the relevant WE pages for the workshop were cached on the server to avoid a reduction in bandwidth speed during the workshop.
I followed the WikiEducator workshop guidelines for day to day activities with relatively little variation, with catch-up being possible for entry-level participants resulting from having some of the more skilled participants work with the less skilled participants during the workshop.
- Pre-workshop preparation and communication between parties is key to workshop success.
- Participants must be encouraged to bring own laptops where applicable.
- A uniform skills and interests demographic would be ideal, but failing this, try to get the more skilled participants to help the weaker participants
- At very least, Office Application and web browser literacy MUST be a requirement for participation
- Provision of refreshments encouraged attendance, and fast internet served to keep participants focused on the work at hand.
- Creating new Open educational content (sensu stricto) should be done with wiki-ready users, but not (beyond basics) with entry-level participants.
- Learning contracts should be linked to some kind of instantly visible certification.
- The workshop section on free content and applications, copyright requires a fair bit of time and may require more than allotted.
Make sure that the venue allows for social networking websites such as FLICKR, YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK, BLOGSPOT, Hi5, BeBo to be accessible, as well as Google Earth and regular webmail sites (such as GMAIL). Many universities and colleges block such sites as a matter of course to save on international bandwidth.
Make sure that the venue has GIMP, Firefox and Open Office preloaded on the computers. While Microsoft is acceptable as an OS, older generation Exploder doesn't do TABs, and obviously you can't do wikimedia saves with MS Office apps.
Make sure that each computer has at least one USB port open for external media drives eg flash-drives - participants should have one or two images - personal photos - to upload to their wiki pages; also bring along a digital camera in case some participants forget.
In the case of Microsoft systems make sure there's an up-to-date antivirus software to protect against viruses borne by the flash-drives and MP3 players!
There must be REASONABLY FAST access to the Internet, given the fact that the participants will be required to use the internet SIMULTANEOUSLY. Accordingly, it will be useful if the lab is allocated at least 64 - 128 kbs per computer during the week of the workshop.
Slower internet access will obviously frustrate the participants, since all the work will be done online on the WikiEducator server which is situated outside the country and is completely dependent on international bandwidth. At one stage we were down to 4 kbs per computer ! Not nice!
I would also recommend that this workshop framework is modified in part to accommodate at least two levels of skills - entry-level and wiki-savvy. Without this progressive distinction, it's hard to get actual online educational resources developed in just 3 days of workshopping!