Jul 12, 2010
Anne Schanz is currently supporting the IICD-funded educational projects EducaTic (ICT for educational processes) and CEPAC (Peasant Agricultural Promotion Centre) in Bolivia in the mapping of software used for digital content production. In this blog she reflects on digital educational content production within these projects.
Last weekend, I was able to be part of the first capacity building workshop held by Educatic during my stay in Oruro. It was the first of a round of 5 workshops during which local teachers will go through various phases of digital content production. At the end, this will result in a number of educational flash games invented and designed by the teachers themselves and implemented by the team of Educatic.
This time, a group of 10 teachers that were very new to ICTs came – a challenge in a way, as they will have to think about how to adapt their functional game design in a way that it will be feasible to digitalize it. Unfortunately, winter holidays had just started, so that the normal group size of around 30 wasn’t reached. During this first one-day workshop, the teachers – recruited through the local branch of the Ministry of Education – were presented with the main objectives of the project and got to know their fellow teachers who will likewise design their games in the same round of workshops.
The first challenge they were presented with was to think about an educational problem from their subject in a specific age group, e.g. sorting of natural numbers or spelling of specific words. They were then asked to think about an (offline) setting which is specific to their region or cultural group. This might be a game, or simply the natural surroundings of the villages they come from. As this region has always been a mining region, one setting was the entrance of a mine with the worker encountering various co-workers as the levels of the game increase. Another setting was taken from a children’s game which is played outside, where seeds are thrown towards an object. The closest seed wins. Thanks to this contextualized approach, the students will hopefully be more inclined to identify with the games and have more fun while playing and learning.
During a well-facilitated session, all teachers were able to come up with a first idea on paper. Initial drawings of the game design supported the imagination of the course of the game and identify potential difficulties. During lunch, the shy group started chatting over the traditional “charque”-dish (dried lama meat with a hard-boiled egg, potatoes and dried corn and a piece of goat cheese).
As it is not always easy to find an address here in the maze of small streets and shops, two teachers only managed to find us when the rest had almost finished. However, they were not sent home but welcomed just as warmly and received their private introduction which ended in them producing some very nice ideas.
During the coming sessions, teachers will define their ideas more finely, adapted their drawings and explanations and finally evaluate the prototypes produced by Educatic.
I admit that this way of digital educational content production is a long process. Teachers will have to travel several times and spend their weekends working. They will have to make a great effort to get involved in a new medium they might have no experience in. However, from what I have seen and heard, I do believe that in the end, the results are very valuable. Teachers will have developed a pride in their own achievements, feel the effort they have spent and are thus more likely to adopt the games in their teaching routine. Last but not least, they will leave with the feeling that they have been listened to and were able to apply their didactic and professional knowledge.
Anne Schanz studied International Information Management at the University of Hildesheim, Germany. In her master’s thesis “Web-based communication in an intercultural learning project – analysis and development potentials of the Global Teenager Project” she investigated the effectiveness of use of online communication software within the GTP and analysed data from 258 participants in 11 countries. http://anneschanz.de/blog/tag/ict4d.
Read more about the 'ICT in Primary and Secondary Education' project which Educatic executes and IICD supports.
Apr 29, 2010
The e-Agriculture community gathered some of the top minds in using ICT for rural development at a lively panel discu...
The e-Agriculture community gathered some of the top minds in using ICT for rural development at a lively panel discussion during the 13th IAALD World Congress going on now in Montpellier, France. IAALD is an international association which connects agricultural information specialists worldwide.
The panel, composed of Peter Ballantyne, ILRI, Anriette Esterhuysen, APC, Ibrahim Khadar, CTA, Francois Laureys, IICD, and Michael Riggs, e-Agriculture facilitator, presented some key insight from a new initiative to expand our understanding of the impact ICT have in rural development, and how this understanding can improve the design and positive impact of ICT interventions.
Many contributions were made from the audience on points to clarify, emphasize and reinforce in this ongoing, dynamic work. Below you can see the slides from the presentation: e-Agriculture Perspectives A Conceptual Framework to Enhance the Impact of ICT in Rural Development.
For more on what is happening at the IAALD World Congress, follow the tag #aginfo10 and the IAALD blog at iaald.blogspot.com.
(photo credit: Denise Senmartin, IICD)
Mar 25, 2010
We were located 2 hours from Capetown in the small town of Kleinmond. We stayed in a holiday home in small bungalows in a be...
We were located 2 hours from Capetown in the small town of Kleinmond. We stayed in a holiday home in small bungalows in a beautiful, inspiring landscape with mountains in front of us and the Atlantic Ocean behind us. What better place could you have to start a writing collective. The idea was not to write just another guidebook, but to bring in the vast experiences of the participating NGO’s to bring theory and practice together in combination with an action research next year in 20 Southern NGO’s to bring the guide as a tool for transforming organizations and Social change into practice.
To develop this we needed to know each other much better, but also to develop our own writing voice. One of the exercises we used for this is the technique of freewriting. In freewriting your pen, rather than your mind decides what to write; the hand leads and the mind follows. As simple as it sounds, it’s no easy exercise and takes real discipline to stick to this simple premise. We did several exercises with a start sentence and 4 minutes of writing. Afterward you had to underline the key sentences and share this with a small group to make a poem out of it. That sounds a bit weird, but actually the poems were quit powerful.
Another method that we used was it always powerful storytelling. With the freewriting exercises we also had described two of our key learning moments. You could share the stories with one of the others, pick one and shared that story with the whole group. During the whole week we told these stories and distilled the general lessons out of these stories to use that to describe inside-out how we have gone through our own learning journeys. These general insights were stored on colored papers on the whole: a big collection of thoughts at the end of the week.
To look outside-in to organisational learning the core group of the writers collective on organisational learning, which we discussed to see what was most inspirational, fascinating but also to define areas for deeper research, missing parts and remaining questions.
On day three we were on a quest for our vision. At 07.00 sharp we climbed in silence the mountain in front of were we stayed. At the top (a 30 minutes climb, through a beautiful landscape, one of the most diverse worldwide in terms of number of plans) we wrote our how we thought the Barefootguide would be used in the world in 5 years time as a free writing exercise. After a lovely walk down through a different path we brought all these stories together in small groups to design the leading image through a very creative drawing process. These three leading images were than shared and brought together into one picture with symbols, metaphors and key words.
The last day was the process that will lead to the development if the barefootguide. The next write workshop will be in May in Egmond (the Netherlands).
Before that time a needs assessment with some of the partners that will participate in the action research will take place (not at IICD partners) and a similar assessment about current learning practices should also be carried out under the organisations of the writers collective. In the next two weeks it will be more clear what that will mean for IICD. The action research for next year was also designed, but the key question for the next two year were the research areas which needed more deeper research. Also adding the voice of the south more. All of us will contribute more case studies like our thematic learning briefs, our Learn-Work trajectory and country learning reports. We concluded with a mood image of the whole week which was again an creative exercise to trigger your right brain. All in all a very inspirational, intensive and challenging workshop. Looking forward to continue this process in May.
Mar 01, 2010
On February 23 last, I took part in the symposium Genderjustice.nu , organised by WO=MEN (pronounced women equals men). ...
On February 23 last, I took part in the symposium Genderjustice.nu, organised by WO=MEN (pronounced women equals men). This Dutch Gender Platform is a network association of almost 70 organisations and individuals who have committed themselves to working towards equal participation of women and men worldwide; to global gender justice.
Goal of the day was to discus if progress has been made towards gender equality (fifteen years into the Beijing Platform for Action) and to present information, experiences, questions, dilemma’s and practices from the field to inspire. It further discussed what development organisations are doing to promote gender equality.
Next the opening panel, themed: The gender matters on the table, was on. Facilitated by Evelijne Bruning ((The Hunger Project) panel members Sylvia Borren (World Connectors), Özden Yalim (WO=MEN), Jeanette Kloosterman(Oxfam Novib) and I answered questions like: What progress has been achieved with regard to reaching gender equality up to date? How far have the agreements made in Beijing been implemented? What gender issues do you run into in your own work practice? What is happening in our ‘gender kitchens’, which good practices can we share? Where do we encounter problems, but especially: where lie the opportunities?
The rest of the morning the audience could choose from 4 parallel workshops, all of course dealing with gender in one way or another.
Lunch break was optimally used for either watching the movie ‘Password Women’ (on how ICT can be put to work to advance the position of women) or for networking.
In the afternoon I was part of the workshop “reporting, connecting & documenting gender / innovative practices.” The other presenters in this workshop were Mina Saadadi (Shahrzad News), Doris Alfafara (Stichting Damayan) and Lin McDevitt-Pugh (NetSheila).
In my presentation I focussed on how the use of ICT can strengthen gender related activities, show cased by examples from IICD projects.
I explained what type of activities our organisation is involved in and presented 4 gender & ICT projects (CIDOB, Online consulting service from Casa de la Mujer, WIDNet, AMJUPRE) and briefly spoke about Coprokazan (showing the Bamanan – local language - presentation), the GINKS training for seamstresses and the Pag La Yiri radio station.
Everything I brought forward came directly from what our partner organisations have shared at the Cross Country Learning Event (CCLE) on Gender and ICT s of last December. During this meeting IICD partners discussed how ICT can contribute to addressing gender equity and women empowerment in development. I figure our partners know best what ICT has brought them, so better let them do the talking (via me).
Although time was too short to give a full overview of the activities our partners are undertaking, I did receive nice reactions from people who were enthused by the possibilities that ICTs offer – or better maybe: the opportunities that these women create for themselves by choosing and applying ICT tools in such a way that it benefits them and their cause.
Overall: met with many very interesting people and enjoyed a very stimulating, inspiring and energising day!
Oct 16, 2008
What determines the success of an IICD Projectnode meeting? Is it the number of participants? Is it the location? Is it the t...
What determines the success of an IICD Projectnode meeting? Is it the number of participants? Is it the location? Is it the topics on the agenda? Or the vibrant discussions on practical subjects? What was clear on the 18th and 19th September 2008 at the Gemistar Lodge in Lusaka Zambia, is that it was a big success, because everyone went home with a feeling of satisfaction and belonging.
The project node meeting started almost on time with all IICD project partners in Zambia. With the new health project partners on board: Zambian Union of Nurses (ZUNO), Zambian National Blood Transfusion Services (ZNBTS) and Caritas Catholic Diocese of Mongu (DOM-HBC) who attended for the first time, a lot of time was spent on introductions. This was done in a special way. All projects were asked to make a short presentation, based on a template. These presentations were stuck on the walls. During the breaks people could walk around and read each others' presentations. Later in the day there was time to ask questions about eachother's projects.
From the presentations all challenges were clustered around four themes: Technical issues, Management issues, Logistical issues and Culture/Motivational issues. In three groups (Logistical and Cultural together) each theme was extensively discussed and potential solutions were presented to each other. Challenges were sometimes similar, but slightly different, and solutions for one challenge were generating more ideas for other challenges as well.
The challenges that came out was the difficulties to use Open Source software without proper training. This was an issue many of the projects had fased. The project teams had just received two CD’s called NGO-in-a-box (the base CD and Open Publishing) so the solution was easy. Some project teams had more experience than others. E-Brain, the national ICT4D network, has established a Technical Support group with techies from within the IICD supported projects (and other interested techies as well). On the D-group everyone can ask each other questions on Open Source Software or other technical issues. E-Brain will also organise some very practical Open Source Software training to project partners as well. Jennifer from ZUNO:
“I thought that we were the only one with Open Source Software issues, but now I understand that there were more projects with similar challenges who have now already more experience than we.”
Our Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) partner Kelvin Luputa presented the M&E system again especially for the new project partners, but also as a refresher for the others. A Question & Answer session started with a lively discussion. More partners are now enthusiastic about the M&E system and will go back to collect the necessary questionnaires for an End-user Focus group meeting at project level so that more can be learned about the impact of their projects.
The last presentation was a joint presentation from Lyson Chikunduzi from the Copperbelt College of Education and Gonzalo Portal from the Mpelembe Secondary School (ENEDCO project) on Local Content Development. Their presentation covered some challenges that both project were fasing, for example how to motivate the teachers. However, the highlight of their presentation was a demonstration of lessons that were developed with the help of Powerpoint and Scratch (animation software). Everyone wanted to do more hands-on training in order to work with it in their own projects.
Most participants went back to their projects with a lot of new ideas that hopefully will find their way to more project staff and end-users to continue the sharing of knowledge and experiences. To get an impression of the project node meeting watch the video 'Project node meeting with all IICD partners in Zambia - Sept 2008'.
Jul 28, 2008
What I actually expected on forehand I do not recall, but to act as one of the main presenters and main resource person at a w...
What I actually expected on forehand I do not recall, but to act as one of the main presenters and main resource person at a workshop and present in French on how to write for the web was not as hard as I expected it to be. Maybe it was the people who participated; maybe it was the heat that makes you automatically slow down and become more relaxed. We simply kicked off and the workshop immediately took its own course.
The workshop ‘Ecrire pour le site web’ was organised to meet the demand of the members of the thematic network group on ICT and agriculture. The members, all project partners of IICD in Mali who had started to use ICT to improve and strengthen the activities of their own organisation, wanted to improve their writing skills to better document and share their experiences with others. Some of the participants had some experience with writing, others not: but all were eager to learn more.
Though I had proposed to hold this workshop, it was not completely without self-interest. As a member of the communications team my constant concern is how to get interesting stories about IICD’s work on the ground. Stories that give our stakeholders a better idea of how ICT can help to overcome the shortfalls of basic public services like health care, education, but also the lack of good governance and the obstacles that prevent small entrepreneurs from earning a decent income. Not an easy job if you are miles away from the place where everything happens. It is even more difficult as we do not know all the people who work on these projects in person. Hopefully, giving the project partners and members of the thematic network group some experience with writing would result in a growing number of interesting stories published on their organisation’s website or on www.mali-ntic.com, which could feed into IICD’s website.
Full of good spirit I had started my preparations, but the closer I came to the date of departure to Mali and Burkina Faso, the more nervous I got. It was years ago since I had spoken French and how much experience did I have anyway with workshops? And what about cultural differences: would they respond to what I was saying and ask if something was not clear? And if they attacked me with questions, would it be possible for me to answer them all? Or would there be no interaction at all: me being the only one talking, trying to encourage people to come forward with their ideas? My colleague Bénédicte Marcilly reassured me: yes, the participants were used to people who were not at ease in speaking French, and no, I did not need to be afraid of silent intervals. Still, I had my doubts whether I would withstand or fall.
What discouraged me a little was the fact that there was unfortunately no opportunity to discuss the programme of the workshop with the other resource person of the workshop, Filifing Diakité, in advance. His role was quite essential: not only would he explain about the sort of content on ICT and agriculture he was focussing, he also had to keep the fire burning directly after the workshop by following up on the articles participants of the workshop were supposed to finalise for the website. But Filifing Diakité was not able to arrive before 10 am on the day of the workshop itself due to other pressing matters.
But then on the day itself: all my worries and foreseen problems disappeared one by one. The people showed up, and on time. Filifing Diakité arrived during my own presentation. He showed his flexibility by changing his presentation on the spot; he presented some very interesting showcases of how to write articles. My French was of course lacking, but somehow with the help of Bénédicte Marcilly and the participants themselves, we were able to understand each other. The attaque of difficulties turned out to be nothing more than an introduction to an article, my downfall - the chute - was nothing more than a round-up of the whole article. It was a good learning experience: not only for our partners, who participated in the workshop, but also for myself. Never be afraid of something what you do not know.