Featured L4C Participant: Victor Mensah
Victor Mensah, a Ghanaian working for the Commonwealth Secretariat at the Commonwealth Youth Programme Regional Centre for Africa, in Zambia. I have always wanted to know the atomic details of ideas, how they are formed, how they develop; and what we make of them. This fascination draws me to search for understanding in the gathering of information and how people accumulate knowledge. During my tenure at the Distance Education Department at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, I was "re-educated" through my exposure to distance education. This tiggered my passion and interest in the processes of distance learning.
WikiEducator is not only ground-breaking, its foresight is defining history, and must forever be developed and continued.
Enter the L4C Workshop
Having joined the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2007, and as curious as ever, I wanted to know more about my new employer. I realised how little I knew about the Commonwealth family. Searching the Internet for "competitive intelligence" the Commonwealth of Learning website left an impression on me, especially the multiplicity of projects been undertaken for the free benefit of millions around the world -- not to mention my introduction to the WikiEducator community.
I subscribe to several listserves and forums, but the WikiEducator forum is unique. With intellectual discussions garnished with a friendly atmosphere, you feel at home straight away. I sensed a "family connection" to WikiEducators like Leigh (New Zealand), Randy (Canada), Leo (China), and Declan (USA), just to mention a few. The first thing I did after joining this forum was to register for the first Learning4Content workshop. The facilitators have been an inspiration -- motivating and supporting me to complete my training notwithstanding my work demands and a hectic travel schedule.
The Value of the L4C Workshop
I've envied the editors on Wikipedia wondering how do they do it. Now I feel confident to expertly edit and post content on Wikimedia Foundation projects. I am also a member of Wikiversity and I have started my own blog to discuss several other topics of interest hosted by Blogspot. I now have the capacity to contribute snippets and thoughts to major content development processes around the world. I believe the spirit behind these wikis is the opportunity to also contribute back to the community some of the benefits you gained from freely using content.
After the L4C workshop
Since completing the Learning4Content workshop, I have been involved in and started several initiatives:
- I am an active WikiNeighbour and WikiAmbassador in Ghana, Zambia and internationally online;
- I immediately created a Neighbour section on my user page to provide support to subsequent Learning4Content participants;
- In March 2008, I presented a paper on mechanisms for gathering information to students in the Central and Western regions of Ghana where I profiled WikiEducator as a prime vehicle for collaborative content development. I encouraged the educators at this session to join the family and start developing content themselves. I know of at least two participants who joined a subsequent L4C workshop.
- I have sent emails to some of my colleagues to join the WikiEducator project. I supported one of my colleagues who has now attained a Wiki Apprentice Level 2 certification.
- Other activities include my work in building the country pages for Ghana and Zambia and as of 9 June 2008, I have developed three content resources for the community.
L4C workshops for Zambia As a L4C graduate, I am now working actively on a project dear to my heart – Learning4Content Workshops for Zambia. The inaugural Face-2-Face workshop for Zambia will take place from 25 to 27 June 2008 at the Computer Laboratory of the Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZCAS). I will facilitate this ground breaking activity which is intended to bring together at least 15 educators into the WikiEducator family. Other F2F L4C workshops will follow, first in Zambia then expanding to other countries in Africa.
The Future is Brighter on the WikiEducator side
Sometimes “simple” discoveries – like penicillin, and paper, have saved lives and changed civilisation. On the other hand, the effects of small changes in the way things are done – like containerisation and the bringing of the computer to the home (PC), have forever changed the course of life in faster and in a more pronounced ways than we could ever have dreamt of.
It would be a fallacy to imagine a future where:
- meaningful learning can be done without collaboration among educators and learners;
- such collaborations can only take place through interactions in the classroom or meeting room;
- collaboration in the future should be expensive, locked behind copyright and closed media formats.
WikiEducator is a priceless tool of its age. Through mass collaboration and a dynamic community -- its hard to imagine what can't be achieved!