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As you have pointed out before, there are special needs in Africa, and the context calls for innovation.

Part of the answer to your question is to facilitate communication across initiatives, and develop a common vision and a common understanding of the context and the wayforward.

The context is constantly changing and we need a realistic plan leading towards a desired future.

Here are two perspectives:

  1. ALL investment should go into enabling access. Only then do we even think about content, and enable this via the local communities. Actually, it is not about content - it is aboutlearning activities which will be greatly enhanced when it is possible to engage with the global knowledge society.
  2. Focus on developing (libre) learning resources among those who have access. These automatically become a foundation as soon as new communities gain access. Moreover, in thisprocess, local skills will be developed to take it forward.

5. Wayne Mackintosh - May 7th, 2007 at 11:58 am

Hey Kim - Enabling access is a strategic priority in Africa - couldn’t agree more. In addition to enabling access - I would like to add aleft-brain strategy, namely projects which generate universal demand for access - in other words generating the need for access in parallel to technical infrastructure.

For this reason I believe that libre content is a missing link in the chain. Learning activities are derived from our pursuit of knowledge and I suggest that themore free content we can produce - the greater the need for access.

Conceptually it is possible to provide access to the 1.7 million free content articles of Wikipedia by creating wiki ==>pdf functionality. This could be a foundation for billions of learners - especially those without textbooks to high qualitycontent, even though they may not have access to the web themselves.

I was playing around with a use case scenario - still needs a little work, but you’ll get the gist of my thinking. See: Thinking creatively about access to free content

Chat to you soon. Wayne

6. Ken Udas - May 9th, 2007 at 5:12 am

Response to Kim

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate the links you have provided and the questions that you have posed. Together we are generating a lot of questions,and I would like to focus on a small group of them that flowed from a question that I asked in my first comment, in which I asked:

Would it help to generate a culture that supports and actively promotes peer development, investment in technologies that support collaborative creation, law that favors(reduces barriers and creates incentives) community production, etc?

And you followed up with these other questions:

Kim: Would it help what? (reduce inequalities of access to knowledge/learning?).

Yes, it seems that complex problems are not well suited to centralized and authoritarian solution generation and decision-making. Traditional “top of thepyramid” oriented decision making tends to disproportionably (sometimes exclusively) respect and reflect the values of the decision maker or the group that he or sherepresents. This will frequently result in marginalizing, to varying degrees (sometimes extremely), the values held by other less powerful groups. By definition, the decision makeris in some sort of local power position, which might extend to a global scale depending on the nature of the political and economic organization that the decision-maker is representing. Isee commons-based peer development as a method to normatively balance concentration of power with the investment of communal decision-making. I was really pointing to commons-based peerdevelopment as a way of seeding values in organizations. Education is an important area because of its impact on the development and transmission of values. These values are thenimbued, ala Freire, in the cultural artifacts that are created, which could include learning materials, technologies, organizational structure, governance, etc. There is a positivelyreinforcing cycle that starts with applying principles of commons-based peer development to OER and FLOSS, including the methods in teacher education, and the general curriculum, keepingin mind that curriculum extend outside of the “schoolhouse”.

Kim: Whom would it help in what way? (those that are ahead already may simply move further ahead together at a faster rate).

I might have at least partially responded to this question above, while also perhaps exposing a certain naivety and idyllic notion of how things work, or at leastmight work. A culture that supported the underlying values of commons-based peer development would benefit everybody because it would, I think, lead to a sustainable society. This ofcourse assumes that as individual and societies we never really have enough resources to meet everybody’s appetites. That is, if left to market forces we will always haveunlimited wants and needs and limited resources. On a societal scale wealth and resources are concentrated creating inequity, which is not a humane or sustainable way to manage a societyor planet. Everybody feels the consequences eventually. This obviously is not only about social change, it is also about effective teaching and learning and basic access to qualityand locally relevant educational resources, but if we can move mountains in the process, why not?

Kim: When? (only after people have physical access to computers and the Internet?).

Great question, no, I do not think that this starts only after everybody has access to computers and the Internet. I will follow your and Wayne’s lead onthis. Commons-based peer development, OER, FLOSS, CIT, education, crime, economic development, etc. are all part of an ecosystem that that will develop together, systemically, andholistically. Investment in developing paper-based OER using commons-based peer development will create demand for CIT, and CIT will become more impactful when they are made available ifa process and culture of commons-based peer development is already in place. This will beparticularly true if commons-based peer development is already being taught as part of the curriculum and being modeled in educational environments including schools

Kim: Why do we think this is important? (will it lead to a sustainable planet and world peace?).

Oops, I responded to this above.

7. Kim Tucker - May 23rd, 2007 at 3:29 am

A link of interest to this discussion (apologies if this is duplication): (External Link)

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Source:  OpenStax, Collaborative learning and the open educational resource movement. OpenStax CNX. Apr 21, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10693/1.1
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