Learning4Content/Workshops/Face-to-Face schedule/L4C50/Workshop Report

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Workshop Dates

The two back-to-back workshops ran for 2.5 days each from 16th-18th (L4C50) and 18th - 20th March 2009 (L4C51), with Joris Komen as facilitator


I'm very grateful, once again for the financial and moral support provided by Commonwealth of Learning, and Patricia and Wayne in particular, Tladi Lekopanye of BOCODOL for local logistic support and volumes of enthusiasm, several of his staff members (especially Moses!) for providing the venue and ensuring that bandwidth was good :-), 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

This back-to-back set of two workshops at BOCODOL in Botswana was undertaken with the understanding that members of the educational sector involved in eLearning content development in Botswana, especially at BOCODOL, would gain Wikieducator and iDevice skills. BOCODOL has played an important role in COL VUSSC "Bootcamps" and resultant online educational resources, and expressed a wish to have a workshop for eLearning stakeholders in March, prompted by Patricia. on WIKI editing skills. Patricia contacted 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 16th - 20th March, with some 30+ participants (collectively) from BOCODOL, the Ministry of Education and the University of Botswana.


There was an excellent turn-out for both workshops; the majority of whom signed their learning contracts (hard copies have been sent to Patricia by snail mail!). The first workshop was exclusively BOCODOL staff, while the second workshop had a broader skills demographic, with one or two entry-level computer users mixed in with some very skilled educational professionals, subject developers. Only one person had prior Wikieducator experience.

L4C 50 workshop had 20 participants (7F/13M) L4C 51 workshop had 19 participants (5F/14M)

Pre-workshop Preparations

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 Botswana were conducted by Tladi Lekopanye and his staff at BOCODOL - greatly appreciated!

The venue at BOCODOL has the capacity to serve up to 21 participants on a 1-to-1 computer basis. Microsoft boxes were used, and the Internet Exploder version had tabs, but unfortunately neither Firefox nor OpenOffice were preloaded. Bandwidth was excellent thanks to network management interventions by Moses. We were also able to upload relevant WE pages for the workshop, with these cached on the server to ensure a reduction in bandwidth speed during the workshop.

Workshop Proceedings

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.

Lessons learned

  • Pre-workshop preparation and communication between parties is key to workshop success;
  • Participants must be encouraged to bring own laptops where applicable - this was especially noticeable for participants using Apple Macs who found the M$FT experience trying
  • A uniform skills and interests demographic would be ideal, but failing this, try to get the more skilled participants to help the weaker participants - this was again apparent on the second and third days of workshop where the faster learners were able to help the weaker participants.
  • Office Application and web browser literacy MUST be a requirement, and it helps to prepare folks to bring some kind of educational material for training (a few pages of prior, CC-by-SA licensed work!) and a SMALL jpeg image of themselves (if there is no GIMP on the computers, then it pays for the facilitaror to have a camera and appropriate image editing software - iphoto and photobooth on a Mac is an excellent point of departure...
  • 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
  • Instantly visible certification makes for excellent incentive - the personal infobox with certificate is very useful!
  • The workshop section on free content and applications, copyright requires a fair bit of time and may require more than allotted.
  • There was a clear division of interest in BOCODOL staff for and against the use of CC-by-SA licensing to protect their work and that of their institution
  • There was considerable debate about the usage of *any* material on the internet - coupled with a locally prominent tolerance of "de facto" unauthorised copying of software, music and other works - I've come across this attitude in several parts of Africa and Pacific ... it certainly needs more attention than I've given it to date!
  • the majority of participants were naive to social networking tools online and on cell - eg MXIT. There were no personal websites, blogs or even facebook subscriptions in this group, and I think it will pay to have reference / introduction to this genre of internet resources introduced at the beginning of the course.
  • the notion of "anytime, anywhere, anyhow" dynamics and use of the internet resources needs to be emphasised!


As before -

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 participants, if not already conversant with these resources, are encouraged to sample these in a first lesson on social networking tools.

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!