Funding proposals/Learning4Content/Hewlett bid

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This is the bid proposal for the Learning4Content project which was submitted to the The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The grant of $100 000 was confirmed on 15 October 2007.

Contents

SECTION 1: Cover sheet

Public description of your project

Please provide a brief statement that best describes your proposed work. This description will appear on our website and in our annual report. It can be no longer than 250 characters including spaces.

For WikiEducator to widen the skills base of educators to develop OERs using wiki technology, thus building a sustainable community across the Commonwealth that will work collaboratively on the development of free content lessons.

Proposal summary

Give a brief summary of your proposed work using no more than 300 words. Please write this description in plain English (no jargon). Assume the people reading it are knowledgeable, but are not educators. Describe the purpose of the proposal, including its importance; the way you plan to achieve your aims; expected outcomes; and the way you will evaluate your success.

The Learning4Content project will provide free skills training in wiki technology for educators in the Commonwealth in exchange for a free content lesson on WikiEducator (http://www.wikieducator.org). The project is inspired by a Native American proverb adopted by the INGOTS open source software training initiative ( http://theingots.org)

Tell me and I'll forget, show me and I may not remember, involve me, and I'll understand.

The Learning4Content project aims to achieve the following outcomes:

COL's WikiEducator is a website dedicated to the collaborative development of free content for education that anyone can modify and use. WikiEducator has grown exponentially during its first year of operation and is currently ranked within the top 8% of most visited websites in the world. The strategy of the Learning4Content project is to scale up training and content development by networking with: COL's focal points in 48 of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth; teachers, trainers and lecturers in the Commonwealth; and members of the Freedom Culture, most notably the Wikipedia community.

The Learning4Content project will work closely with experienced Wikipedians who will be invited to present the training workshops for educators using COL's WikiEducator tutorials (http://www.wikieducator.org/Help:Contents) and the OER workshop toolkit in return for a small honorarium. COL is working closely with Erik Moeller, a board member of the WikiMedia Foundation to advise on liaising with Wikipedians. Mr Moeller is also a member of the WikiEducator International Advisory Board.

Workshop participants will sign a “Learning Contract” to develop one lesson of free content. Progress will be monitored on WikiEducator which tracks every edit on the site.

SECTION 2: Proposal Narrative

A. Background

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is an international intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training.

Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, COL is the only official Commonwealth agency located outside Britain and is the world's only intergovernmental organisation solely concerned with the promotion and development of distance education and open learning. COL is helping to increase the capacities of developing nations to meet the demands for improved access to quality education and training.

Commonwealth Governments financially support COL on a voluntary basis. Major contributors include Canada, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa and the United Kingdom. For more information on COL, see: http://www.col.org/about/whatis.

Sir John Daniel is the Chief Executive Officer and President of COL. The agency operates with 35 staff members, one-third of whom are internationally recruited education specialists. It is also equipped with technology that enables it to connect effectively and efficiently with the rest of the Commonwealth from Vancouver. It has a small subsidiary operation in India, the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia.

The Commonwealth of Learning employs open learning and distance education to increase access to education and training. In part due to the efforts of COL and its Commonwealth-wide network over the past sixteen years, distance education is now a part of the mainstream of education and training. It enables students to learn at the location, time and pace of their choice, for less money and with improved results. COL's goals include maximising the transfer of information, ideas, innovations and resources to support this rapid evolution of distance education. COL's core competence in distance education for the developing world is particularly relevant for the design and development of asynchronous learning resources and OERs.

COL collaborates with governments and educational institutions and works with national and international development agencies, national and regional distance education associations and open universities and schools around the Commonwealth. Through its model-building programs, COL has:

B. Problem / theory of Action

Please describe the issue or problem you are planning to address and the evidence you have that the problem is important, and your theory of action for addressing the problem. If relevant, include a brief literature review or a discussion of your hypothesis and alternative hypotheses. Explain how your goal relates to the Foundation’s grant-making priorities. Discuss how your work advances the Open Educational Resources field beyond its current state and how it relates to any similar work being carried out. Please note that Sections 3 and 4, Logic Model and Program Chart, should be drafted before you complete items B through E of this section.


In Africa, for example, the overwhelming majority of children of secondary school-going age will not have the privilege of seeing the walls of a classroom in their life time. It is unlikely that developing nations will be able to build enough classrooms or train enough teachers to achieve universal secondary education by 2015. These out-of-school youth don't have access to textbooks or learning materials let alone computers or access to the Internet.

COL is collaborating with the Wikimedia Foundation on the development of technology to produce portable document format (pdf) versions of content directly from the wiki. In this way, printed study materials can be produced for learners without access to the Internet thus widening access to the benefits of digitally authored OERs.

Mass collaboration can produce large volumes of quality content

A free education curriculum that can be distributed, modified and adapted without any restriction can make a difference. In realisation of the vision of developing a free content resources in support of national education curricula by 2015, we must find ways to radically scale up the rate of free content production in digital formats, which can then be distributed using appropriate and accessible technologies.

Wikipedia, a top ten website and the largest encyclopaedia developed in the history of human kind has demonstrated that through the principles of mass-collaboration and self-organisation it is possible to produce large volumes of high quality free content. COL has established WikiEducator to support free content development in education and uses the same software, as the Wikipedia.

An experiential-based approach

COL's experience working with educators across the Commonwealth, shows that the lack of basic ICT skills is a significant barrier for participation in the development of free content on WikiEducator. We have demonstrated through our experiences with WikiEducator that educators can become proficient free content producers using wiki technology, if provided with an opportunity to acquire the basics of wiki editing. COL has gained first hand experience in facilitating basic wiki training with the target audience, including:

COL has used this experience to develop a series of tutorials on wiki editing and an OER Workshop Toolkit is currently being developed to support the planning and administration of these training workshops. All materials are licensed as free content which can be used without restriction.

Achieving scalability and economies of scale

The OER initiative must find ways to scale up the rate of free content production for education while at the same time achieving economies of scale in our advocacy and training approaches to equip educators with the skills necessary to participate in the global OER movement. COL's experience in open distance learning provides us with the core competencies in achieving scalability and economies of scale in educational delivery and these constitute the foundations of this proposal.

The Learning4content project hypothesises that:

Given the dynamic nature of the wiki model, the project can adopt a learn-by-doing approach refining materials, learning resources and processes as the the project progresses. This will contribute to a recursive cycle of continuous quality improvement.

C. Inputs

Inputs include money, staff time, knowledge and expertise, equipment, and facilities. Please describe the major inputs that will be devoted to the project. Attach a one-page curriculum vitae of each key participant as well as any significant advisors or consultants. Please discuss resources (including in-kind) that are to be contributed by your organization as well as other sources, including foundations and government agencies. Explain why you believe your proposed project is likely to succeed with the resources you intend to devote to it. If there is a strategic plan and/or business plan, describe briefly and attach.

The successful implementation of the Learning4Content project will require the following inputs:

  1. Training materials. COL has developed 11 free content tutorials covering the basics of wiki editing using Mediawiki software (http://www.wikieducator.org/Help:Contents). Mediawiki is the same software used by the popular Wikipedia encyclopedia, currently a top ten website. COL has run two pilots using these tutorials in eLearning format with 110 participants from 30 countries. These tutorials will be used as the core training materials for the project. This resource is an estimated contribution of $8 000.
  2. Workshop resources. Face-to-face workshops require resources including preparation checklists, draft agendas, workshop activities and slide show resources. COL is currently developing an OER workshop toolkit for the Learning4Content project. This workshop toolkit is based on the practical experience of presenting 3 capacity development workshops in Africa and a Pacific regional workshop (http://www.wikieducator.org/OER_Workshop_Toolkit). Drawing on this experience COL is in the process of refining the learning design and workshop activities for the OER workshop toolkit. We estimate this resource contribution to be $13 000
  3. Learning contracts. Prospective participants in the Learning4Content project will commit to developing a free content lesson on WikiEducator in return for training in basic wiki editing. COL has commissioned the development of a learning contract for this purpose (http://www.wikieducator.org/Metawikieducator/Learning4Content/Proposal_outlines). We estimate this resource contribution to be $3 000. Learning4Content workshop participants can potentially become future workshop facilitators.
  4. Learning4Content trainers. The phenomenal international success of the Wikipedia has resulted in a global community of volunteers with wiki editing skills. The Learning4Content project will draw on this global community to facilitate capacity building workshops for educators around the world.
  5. Project leadership. COL has extensive experience in the use of technology to widen access to education, particularly in the developing regions of the world. The project will be led by Dr Wayne Mackintosh who has a proven international track record in free software and free content for education. The Learning4Content project is an integral component of WikiEducator's strategic plan (http://www.wikieducator.org/WikiEducator:About) which is now moving into the second phase of scaling up free content development. Sir John Daniel, CEO and president of COL is the patron of WikiEducator and the community is guided by an International Advisory Board (http://www.wikieducator.org/Advisory_board) covering five global regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, the Pacific and North America. Deserving particular mention with reference to the Advisory Board is our capacity in gender equity. Dorcas Muthoni the co-founder of LinuxChix Africa and Dr Savithri Singh, Principal of an Undergraduate college at the University of Dehli, India are both Advisory Board members of WikiEducator. The COL team will be complimented by the skills of Dr Tanyss Munro, Education specialist for Governance with responsibilities for Gender in COL's program.

In addition to the contributions in kind identified above, COL will also be committing CAD60 000 to the Learning4Content project from our program budget to finance honoraria for facilitators, over and above the funding from this grant proposal.

Achieving COL's strategic plan

COL's program is guided by our three-year strategic plan, 2006 - 2009 entitled learning for development (http://www.col.org/colweb/webdav/site/myjahiasite/shared/docs/3YP-06-09_web.pdf). eLearning for education sector development, an official initiative of COL's programme, has specified the development of OERs as a strategic priority. In realisation of these strategic priorities, COL's WikiEducator has developed a business plan in support of the achievement of the corporate development vision.

Building the WikiEducator community together
The strategic objectives for the eLearning initiative are aimed at achieving the four C's, namely:

WikiEducator's business plan is divided into three distinct phases:

  1. Establishing foundations (May 2006 - Dec 2007). This phase involves setting up the technologies and processes to facilitate community development for free content.
  2. Scaling up free content development (Jan 2008 - Dec 2008). The prime purpose of Phase 2 is to scale up the rate and quality of free content development building on the foundations established during Phase 1. Phase 2 will be realised through ongoing community development with special emphasis on scalable capacity development. The Learning4Content proposal is the flagship project of this phase of WikiEducator's business plan.
  3. Sustainable implementation of free content in education (Jan 2009 - ). The purpose of this phase is to prioritise activities which implement free content into mainstream educational activities. The success of the free content movement in education will be measured when real students enroll in real programmes using free content.

D. Activities

Describe the activities you will undertake to achieve your intended outcomes. Explain why these activities will lead to your intended outcomes and how you will overcome any obstacles. Describe how you will measure whether or not you have successfully carried out your activities. What key constituencies, including traditionally underserved groups, participate in the work of the project? Discuss any significant collaborations with other organizations or program units.

The Learning4Content project is categorised into distinct types of activities, namely foundation activities and specific project activities. The foundation activities are the prerequisite building blocks for the successful delivery of the Learning4Content project and represent COL's contribution in kind to the project. These will be followed by the specific project activities of this proposal which will be co-funded from COL's core programme budget.

Foundation activities

The Learning4Content project requires a set of free content resources as primary inputs. The development of these resources have commenced and have been funded through COL's core programme. Consequently the building blocks for the project will be in place prior to the commencement of the project.

Intended outcome: Free content resources required for the Learning4Content project are developed and completed before commencement of skills development workshops.

Activity Status Obstacles and risk management strategy
Develop tutorials for Wiki editing on WikiEducator
  • Tutorial development completed
  • Pilot testing completed
  • Language and usability refinements from pilot testing in progress
  • Tutorials not completed on time. No risk, as tutorials are already uploaded on Wikieducator

Develop OER workshop tool kit for Learning4Content trainers

  • Under development
  • Learning design refinements to be completed
  • OER Workshop toolkit not completed on time. Low risk as first drafts of the content have already been completed.
  • Learning design outstanding, however a consultant has been identified and COL is in the process of finalising the contract.
Develop learning contract for the participants
  • First draft of learning contract completed
  • Refinements for different levels and categories of educators required
  • Community review of learning contracts outstanding
  • Learning contracts not completed on time. Low risk as first drafts have already been completed
Develop promotional brochure for the Learning4Content project
  • Not started
  • Promotional brochure not completed on time. Low risk. COL's in house graphic design capability will ensure delivery on time.

Project activities

The following activities are required for successful delivery of the project.

Intended outcome: All activities completed to enable the training of at least 2 500 teachers in basic wiki editing skills and corresponding development of 2 500 corresponding lessons of free content.

Activity Obstacles and risk management strategy Monitoring mechanism
Develop processes and supporting technologies on WikiEducator for registration and selection of workshop facilitators (for example registration template linked to Wiki Category pages). Process documentation and supporting technologies not completed on time. Low risk because prototype templates which can facilitate this process have already been developed. Prototype template trialled by WikiEducator community on the wiki.
Develop facilitator's guide containing instructions, check lists and deliverables for claiming the facilitator's honorarium. Facilitator's guide not completed on time. Low risk as the development of this documentation will be overseen by COL's managers allocated to this project. Facilitator's guide developed on the wiki and peer reviewed by the community.
Assign self-nominated facilitators to proceed with arrangements for a Learning4Content workshop. Suitably qualified facilitator's cannot be identified. Medium risk given the element of voluntary work required. The following risk management strategies are planned:
  • Facilitators must present evidence of their Mediawiki editing skills;
  • Facilitators must provide a letter of support from the institution or organisation where the workshop will be hosted;
  • COL will liaise with their identified focal points in Commonwealth countries and the Wikimedia community to identify potential facilitators.
  • COL will network with large Mediawiki projects including Wikipedia, Wikiversity and Wikia to assist with identifying possible workshop facilitators.
  • COL must approve the nomination of all facilitators prior to presentation of a Learing4Content workshop;
  • Honorarium is to be paid in arrears, to minimise financial risks of this model.
All activity relating to the nomination of facilitators will be monitored on the wiki in accordance with the guidelines and criteria established in the facilitator's guide.
Presentation of a Learning4Content workshop combined with the submission of learning contracts for developing a lesson of free content from workshop participants. Wiki skills not acquired by workshop participants. Medium risk. While high quality resources will be provided for training, COL cannot exercise direct quality control on the actual workshop or ongoing commitments of teachers to complete their free content lessons. The following risk management strategies are planned:
  • Honorarium is paid in arrears based on observed wiki skills demonstrated by participants on WikiEducator;
  • A learning contract must be submitted by each participant on WikiEducator prior to the workshop.
  • Follow-up feedback and motivations to participants from the WikiEducator community.
  • All edits on WikiEducator can be monitored by the community
  • Workshop participant's User accounts will be specified in the Learning contract so post workshop activity can be monitored.

E. Outcomes

Outcomes are expected effects from the proposed project on the target population. They may be intermediate outcomes or ultimate outcomes. Please describe the outcomes you wish to accomplish with this project and how you will demonstrate whether you have achieved them. Describe the key obstacles to accomplishing your intended outcomes. Discuss how you believe the work of your project will generalize beyond its current setting.

The following outcomes are specified for the project:

  1. At least 2500 teachers/educators trained in basic wiki editing skills. This is based on the assumption that facilitators will be able to identify on average 15 teachers/educators for each workshop.
  2. 2500 lessons of free content developed. This is based on the assumption that participants honour their learning contract signed before participation in the skills development workshop.
  3. The establishment of a community of free content developers.
  4. The implementation of free content in the classroom.
  5. The identification of technological requirements that will contribute to an "open participatory learning infrastructure".

The key obstacles and corresponding risk management strategies are highlighted in Section D covering the activities for the project.

F. Evaluation

Discuss your plans to evaluate both your strategy and your outcomes, noting the measures and methodologies you intend to use and the percent of your budget you will allocate. Please keep in mind that the intention of evaluation is to ensure accountability, provide ongoing feedback about how well you are moving toward your goals, and capture knowledge developed for your organization, the Foundation, and others in the field.

COL's activities are planned and implemented in accordance with a results based management system. The Learning4Content project is a planned action which forms part of the eLearning for Education sector development initiative in COL's core development programme. This means that the Learning4Content project is an integral component of COL's monitoring and evaluation systems. Key performance indicators assist with the monitoring of the WikiEducator initiative inlcluding:

G. Intellectual property rights

In every grant where Foundation resources are used to create products, agreement about the licensing of these products must be made explicit in the grant application. Products include but are not limited to reports, papers, publications, content, and software.

COL's WikiEducator subscribes to the Free Cultural Works Definition (http://freedomdefined.org/Definition) which only permits free content alternatives of the Creative Commons licenses. In adherence to COL's guidelines on copyright for sharing educational resources, this project supports the Creative Commons Attribution and Share Alike license (http://www.col.org/colweb/webdav/site/myjahiasite/shared/docs/COL_Copyright_Guidelines_May_2007.doc). All reports, papers and content developed under the Learning4Content project will be released under this free content license.

The Mediawiki software used for WikiEducator uses the GNU General Public License of the Free Software Foundation.

H. Compelling reasons for the grant

  1. The Learning4Content project will be able to test and implement an approach purposefully designed to scale up the rate of free content production for education by leverage COL's experience in achieving economies of scale associated with skills development in using wiki technology for collaborative authoring of OERs across 53 Commonwealth states.
  2. The project will demonstrate the feasibility of a networked ecosystem among leading free content projects.
  3. The project will provide an international test case to identify the technological requirements for an "open participatory learning infrastructure" that are appropriate for developing society contexts.
  4. Learning4Content establishes the foundations for a community-driven free textbook project by increasing the number of skilled educators to participate in collaborative authoring using social software technologies;

SECTION 3: Logic model

A logic model is a graphical representation of cause and effect that links inputs to activities to outcomes, typically by tracing events over time. It describes how an organization or project plans to get from here (inputs) to there (outcomes). Although the model shows forward movement, an organization often begins its planning process by articulating its intended outcomes and then working backward to determine how to achieve them.

Center

SECTION 4: Programme chart

Category of Outputs and outcomes Indicators of progress Activites Targets/Baselines Target Date

Foundation activities/outputs

Prerequisite materials and process documentation completed and freely available as OER resources Resource materials uploaded on WikiEducator
  • Tutorials on wiki editing for WikiEducator completed
  • Promotional brochure for Learning4Content completed
  • OER workshop tool kit completed
  • Learning contracts for participants completed
  • 11 tutorials on wiki editing designed for educators
  • 1 Promotional brochure available in print and electronic formats
  • OER workshop tool kit prepared for 3 workshop configurations
  • Downloadable learning contract for participants
  • Tutorials - completed
  • Other activities - 15 December 2007

Project activities/outputs

Educators trained in basic wikiediting

Number of workshops and training sessions Number of educators trained

  • Promote the Learning4Content project across the Commonwealth
  • Ongoing selection of workshop facilitators
  • Ongoing selection of workshop participants
  • Monitoring of training activities on WikiEducator
  • Online workshop evaluations completed
  • 160 workshops in 53 countries
  • 2500 educators trained
  • 25 workshops (375 educators) by 31 March 2008
  • 45 workshops (700 educators) by 30 June 2008
  • 45 workshops (700 educators) by 30 September 2008
  • 45 workshops (725 educators) by 31 December 2008

Intermediate outcomes

Free content lessons developed Number of free content lessons completed
  • Participant user pages completed
  • Draft lesson plan uploaded on user page
  • Lesson content developed
  • Buddy review completed
  • Final version of lesson completed

2500 free content lessons completed including the following formats:

  • Classroom handouts (see Handouts4Teachers
  • Wikipedia article converted into a free content lesson
  • Original lesson content developed
  • 375 lessons by 31 May 2008
  • 700 lessons by 31 August 2008
  • 700 lessons by 31 December 2008
  • 725 lessons by 31 March 2009

Ultimate outcomes

Sustainable community of free content developers is established Linear growth rate in new content developers joining WikiEducator
  • Ongoing content development
  • Ongoing capacity building for free content development
  • Commencement of new free textbook projects on Wikibooks and WikiEducator
  • Community teams and national nodes established
Free content resources in support of all national educational curricula available as OERs by 2015 Ongoing refinement and revisions to free content resources.

Section 5:Financial information

Budget for the Learning4Content project for the year ending 31 December 2008

Details Amount in USD
Hewlett Foundation Grant 100 000
COL budget allocation for Learning4Content 60 000
COL contribution in kind (Prerequisite training materials) 25 000
COL investment in wiki to pdf technology 15 000
COL associated staff costs 40 000
TOTAL INCOME 240 000
Honoraria and workshop incidentals

(160 Workshops planned)

160 000
Development of wiki to pdf extension for Mediawiki software 15 000
COL staff costs 40 000
Development of training materials and workshop resources 25 000
TOTAL EXPENDITURE 240 000

Notes

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