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Pamela McLean thinks out loud about 2007

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  • Andrius Kulikauskas
    *Pam, Thank you for this wonderful example of thinking out loud ! This is great for our almanac. I invite others likewise to answer these questions or just to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1 6:12 AM
      *Pam, Thank you for this wonderful example of "thinking out loud"! This
      is great for our almanac. I invite others likewise to answer these
      questions or just to think out loud. Andrius


      Hi Andrius
      I recently heard a quote "Sorry for writing such a long letter - I
      didn't have time for a short one".
      That explains how I feel about the attachment I'm sending you.
      I think it's too long to share further, in fact I'm not even sure about
      sending it to you - but I do want you to know that I tried to respond to
      your request, and maybe ti will be of some use.
      Thanks for your inspiration, encouragement and enabling in 2006 and all
      good wishes for 2007.
      I look forward to meeting you again when you are back in the UK - let me
      know if there is any help I can give before or during your visit.



      *Plans for 2007*

      /This was written simply as thinking aloud in response to some questions
      Andrius sent. I realised that I don’t really have a clear plan for 2007
      and it seemed a good idea to think about it. It’s easier to think if you
      have someone to communicate with who is interested in what you are
      thinking – and who understands it. In fact, one of the big disadvantages
      of being a self-directed learner is the lack of a “supervisor” figure to
      discuss things with. Andrius is the person closest to being that kind of
      figure for me. So – although I wasn’t ready to answer Andrius’ questions
      I wrote freely about the things I’d like to discuss with him, related to
      his questions, and as part of gathering my thoughts to be ready to respond./

      /I’m reading through what I wrote and wondering about sending it for
      anyone else to read. It has served the purpose of getting me to start to
      order my thoughts but will take some tidying up before sharing with
      anyone else – and may not really be worth sharing. I will probably add
      some headings to help make a bit more sense of it, and also refer now
      and again to Andrius’s headings – because they were influencing the
      direction of my thoughts. /


      /*Andrius asked:What are your plans for the coming year?
      including projects;

      *Main focus*

      The main focus for my plans at present is work relating to Teachers
      Talking, with a visit to Nigeria soon for the grassroots side of things,
      and online aspects being developed at Cawdnet Campus.

      The practical work in Nigeria is planned for Feb 13^th - March 8^th 2007
      (subject to confirmation of flights). There are four main locations –
      all providing different opportunities for investigation. All feed into
      the exploration on Cawdnet Campus of the role of ICT in enabling
      learning - especially for bandwidth challenged individuals and
      communities. The locations are Oyo State – especially the Oke-Ogun area
      (with OCDN – Oke-Ogun Community Development Network), Lagos (with DIFN –
      Development Initiative For Nigeria) Kafanchan – in Kaduna State (with FF
      - Fantsuam Foundation) and then a location further north with a project
      run by Caroline Ifeka.

      *Visit to Oyo State*

      In Oyo State (which is the part of Nigeria which I first visited in
      2001) Oke-Ogun Community Development Network (OCDN) has three small (and
      very different) Information Centres. The centres have no external
      funding. Each has the use of a space in a building and owns a
      photocopier, and one or more computers. One centre (Ago-Are) has
      (erratic) VSAT connectivity. Another (Iseyin) is opposite to a cyber
      café. The third (Okeho) is further from any connectivity. All centres
      have had printers – but they fail and it is hard to get them mended or

      The centres have different levels of support and interest. Various local
      people are connected to the centres for various reasons. The Ago-Are
      centre has also had links with VSO, COL and IITA (Commonwealth of
      Learning, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Voluntary
      services Overseas). I connect through "historic reasons of friendships".
      Personally I would like to see the Information Centres develop as
      centres for education and training. Each Information Centre is a
      potential location for a Cawdnet Campus "outpost". (I am not sure what
      the right term is yet so “outpost” will serve for now. Maybe the
      locations could simply be “affiliates” - but I don't thinks so - because
      – if they do become Cawdnet Campus “outposts” I will expect them to
      deliver certain things in return for certain benefits. Exactly what the
      expectations and benefits should be are issues for investigation during
      the coming year.)

      *Establishing Cawdnet Campus "outposts"*
      What do we have (in our network Cawdnet) at the local level, which can
      enable the establishment of Cawdnet Campus "outposts" in Oke-Ogun and
      elsewhere? We have locations – the locations have people connected with
      them, and those people are part of local human networks. We have links
      with teachers - who have little money and little spare time – but who
      have the potential to be powerful ICT/Cawdnet-Campus champions and
      change agents. We have community connections that enable us to learn
      about local needs for education and training.

      The role of teachers

      It is worth looking at the situation of teachers in more detail.
      Teachers’ salaries are usually insufficient for the needs of their
      extended families (many of whom are subsistence farmers or unemployed
      and trying to earn in whatever way they can – there is no social
      security system). The teachers usually have demands on their time in
      addition to teaching - family commitments - including work on the family
      farm, "second jobs" (tailoring and hunting were two mentioned to me by a
      primary head teacher).

      Community leadership and service are also time consuming for teachers.
      Teachers tend to play a leading role on many organising committees. By
      definition, they have a local reputation for being able to speak and
      understand English (which is the language of administration and
      education) and being able to read and write in English as well. Various
      responsibilities and requests for help come as a result, because most
      rural people speak local languages rather than English – but until
      recently they were only taught literacy skills in English at primary
      school, not their own languages. As a result many people who only had
      primary schooling are unable to read and write as adults. People ask
      teachers (or religious leaders) for help when letters need to be read or
      written or when there is some other need to deal with the written word.

      Some of teachers have a strong commitment to community development – and
      it is said that if you educate a teacher then you educate a community.
      Teachers also have the motivation to learn about ICT because computer
      literacy is now a requirement if teachers want to rise up the promotion
      ladder. This motivation means that if we can make ICT training
      affordable for them, then individual teachers may see it as an
      investment rather than an extravagance. If they are ICT literate – and
      understand about the various development opportunities that ICT and
      Information Centres can offer (such as new opportunities to access
      informal education and training) they will share these benefits with
      their communities (such as the teacher who wanted to find out via the
      Internet about growing ginger).

      The challenge of providing affordable training

      How can we approach the challenge or making training available to
      teachers served by our network? There are various possibilities to
      consider and combine, sponsorship/subsidies, voluntary input, training
      designed to run at minimal cost, modular approaches, local delivery, etc.

      At present everything related to “TT” (Teachers Talking About ICT
      training programme) is very experimental and rather hand-to mouth. Once
      we (various people in Cawdnet) have shown what we can do, then I hope we
      will be able to extend the reach of what we do through subsidies and
      sponsorships - i.e. having the money to scale up and deliver more widely
      and in a more professional way. At present things rely largely on
      whatever help happens to be available at any given time to help move
      things along.

      *Extending the reach of TT*

      I know of people in other places, beyond Nigeria, who are interested in
      our Teachers Talking programme - but I can't follow through on it until
      I have more human resources; more effective
      knowledge-management-and-delivery systems; and/or money to acquire them.

      */Andrius asked: How and where would you like people to participate and
      to help each other?
      - at what online venues;
      - at what physical locations.


      I urgently need someone who is better than I am at setting strategic
      goals, and dealing with monitoring and evaluation. I also need people
      who are good "completer finishers" – people who will take things where I
      have demonstrated the "proof of concept" and who then will go on to
      do"more of the same" - with just a little guidance of what "more" is
      needed and how far it should be "the same".

      I would like to set up country teams, and contact teams, and ICT systems
      teams, all working together. I know I can pull together various of the
      elements for those teams - but there is no point if I don't have the
      time, skills and discipline to manage them - and I don't have those
      skills. I am a creative thinker and an analytical thinker but not a
      proper strategic thinker. As far as strategy goes I can see things that
      aren't there yet and I can see they could come into being, and fit
      together and more or less "how things would work" - and as things move
      forward I can respond to the reality and re-adjust my vision and so on -
      but I don’t think I’m any good at setting clear goals for others –
      unless that is simply a reflection of the fact that there are precious
      few "others" to set goals for? (Maybe also I fail to set goals because I
      simply have to adjust my goals to whatever resources - mostly human -
      come my way? What difference would it make if I did have resources that
      I did have to allocate effectively and monitor and evaluate their use?
      We shall see when I do the My FoodStory project).

      */Andrius asked:What are your plans for the coming year?
      including projects;

      *Back to details of the visit in Oyo State *

      The February visit will build on the reality check I did in Oyo State in
      Nov/Dec 2006. The Ago-Are centre is fragile - but is strongest, and my
      personal relationships with people there go back to 2001, when I
      attended the funeral of my friend Peter Adetunji Oyawale (and earlier in
      some cases).

      In Ago-Are I will stay with Pastor David (PD) - the present manager of
      the Information Centre. This is a position which alternates between paid
      and voluntary as funds allow. I have made some money available to Pastor
      David from my own pocket in an attempt to ensure that I get regular
      reports and ongoing contact. I want him to be encouraged and rewarded in
      some way - to know that his work is valued even when the Information
      Centre is not able to generate sufficient revenue to support itself. He
      has recently purchased a phone. Later we will be buying a camera.


      I will be clarifying with PD my expectations regarding My FoodStory from
      Ago-Are. I anticipate that money from My FoodStory will enable PD to
      have a digital camera of his own. I know from previous experience how
      valuable photographic and video evidence can be.


      I hope to also spend time with local video cameraman Kola. During my
      last visit Pastor David, Kola and I started to explore the possibility
      of video capture and appropriate editing services at Ago-Are always
      available as I need them (rather than the misceallaneous approaches of
      the past).

      I am considering trying to set up a video editing studio in AA. Kola has
      had some training - but we need to get a decent camcorder (able to
      capture sound effectively) and a computer that can handle video editing.
      It needs to be able to output to VHS tape for local use - to help earn
      its keep and encourage Kola to develop his skills. For my use we’ll want
      DVDs. Ideally I also want short video clips sent via the Internet - but
      we don't have the connectivity for that yet. Maybe for starters we’ll
      have to make do with tiny video clips from the ordinary digital camera.


      PD needs help regarding the Information Centre - some people think it is
      a business centre set up as a nest egg for PD by some external
      benefactor - rather than a community resource which needs community
      support, but might manage to offset some of its costs through providing
      business services. If more people use its services (business and
      training) then more of its costs can be offset. I can help PD (and
      forward my own objectives) by promoting the Information Centre through
      local schools, and by encouraging community leaders to support the
      Information Centre as a community resource. We need to develop shared
      visions and "a plan". If "the plan" becomes workable at Ago-Are then an
      adapted version of the plan should also be available at the other
      centres - in Iseyin and Okeho. I would probably get PD to co-ordinate
      the work of the three centres - although this depends on communication
      practicalities and agreement between all these centres about
      organisational structures etc.

      I have contacts related to the other two centres (at Iseyin and Okeho)
      and will try to get clarity and agreement during my trip. (My contacts
      at all three sites are in discussion with me about plans for the
      February visit). We also now link with the Distance Learning Department
      at Ibadan University, and had useful discussions during my last trip. If
      I can arrange discussions there again this time I will do so, but
      details of what can be done during a visit often have to rely on
      opportunity rather than tight planning. If I have sufficient relevant
      information from a number of different people before I travel then I may
      be able to pull them together in ways that will help everyone concerned
      to achieve personal, local, objectives by collaborating in a larger
      project - but communication and fact finding is very challenging at a
      distance - and once there I have little more than a long weekend to
      achieve all I would like to do.

      It needs some anaylsis and creative thinking

      I'm tempted to list everyone and everywhere with their various interests

      objectives (as I see them) so I can explore possible ideas for how
      things might fit together for win-win scenarios, but if I get into that
      level of detail now I won't even complete my description of plans for
      the visit. I forgot to mention progressing the schools club and teachers
      club and our "hard-copy digital library plans" and links between schools
      clubs and UK schools - I'm working some more on those potential links in
      Jan in preparation for the trip.

      I have no idea how these little centres can be sustainable unless they
      soon attract some kind of community patronage or external support or
      manage to build a viable collection of services. Education is highly
      valued – people make sacrifices to pay for schooling and to send people
      away to continue their education. Peter wanted to do it more cost
      effectively on a local basis – and had plans for making it work – but he
      had local knowledge as well as being an IT professional willing to give
      his services freely. Can we manage to do any of what he hoped through
      the present Information Centres?

      *Second part of the trip - Lagos*

      After Oyo State I go to Lagos, and a TT training of trainers course.
      This course is free to the participants, and we can only afford to run a
      three-day course. We will focus on NC3 materials (No-Computer Computer
      Course) and strategies for ongoing collaboration and professional
      development via a trainers club at Cawdnet Campus.

      The training course in Lagos is arranged and provided through DIFN -
      Development Initiative for Nigeria (a small UK registered charity funded
      largely by donations from Nigerians in the UK.) My input is given
      freely. My travel to and from Nigeria is covered through my role with "A
      Ray of Hope" and its relationship with British Airways. DIFN have
      offered me one quarter of the training places for the use of people
      within my network - they will be coming through OCDN from Oyo State (as
      follow up to the arrangements made the previous weekend) and through
      Fantsuam Foundation (in preparation for the course delivery at FF the
      following week).


      The TT for trainers course should act as a catalyst for continuing
      training of teachers after I leave, with the possibility of more schools
      clubs and more online membership of schools clubs and teachers clubs.
      This will be probably painfully slow and disorganised (by bandwidth-rich
      standards) but if it happens at all that is an achievement. Top-down
      development of the TT programme is not appropriate or achievable. The
      programme is growing more through a scattering of ideas - then seeing
      what seems to have some life in it locally. What does show a spark of
      life when I visit for a resality check I thy to help to survive and grow
      according to local circumstances and vision, and I bring anything I can.
      My financial resources are very limited - but I offer a growing network
      and knowledge base, and Cawdnet Campus as a virtual home.

      Part 3 - North Central Nigeria

      After a week and a half in "Yoruba land" (SW Nigeria) I am due to fly to
      North Central Nigeria (the area of the Hausa people - with many other,
      very local, languages spoken besides Hausa.) The course at Fantsuam is
      due to last for a week. Most of the participants will be known to me
      already, through their attendance at the TT courses in 2004 or 2006.
      Some will be members of the existing TT Action Group. We will be
      developing their skills further; looking at the practicalities of
      sharing what they know with other teachers; and trying to improve their
      ongoing communication links with Cawdnet Campus. Ongoing communications
      is much more of a problem in rural Kafanchan/Fantsuam than it is in
      urban Lagos.


      I hope to involve the organisers/participants in MyFoodStory – I have
      already discussed it with some key people. I hope this will help me to
      discover which of the ongoing communication problems can be solved when
      there is a little money around to overcome some of the financial
      barriers to effective communication.

      *Nomadic schools*

      After Kafanchan/Fantsuam (Kafanchan is the Hausa name for Fantsuam -
      Fantsuam is the local language name) over the weekend I am due to travel
      slightly further north to a project being run by Caroline Ifeka with the
      nomadic pastoralists community ( I imagine these are Fulani people, but
      I will find out when I visit).


      I recently put Caroline in touch with John Dada and Kazanka Comfort of
      Fantsuam Foundation. Caroline and John are now collaborating on a
      schools project linked to Cawdnet Campus. Someone from Caroline's
      project will be a participant on the TT course at FF. Meanwhile Caroline
      will be there learning from Comfort about running a successful
      micro-credit bank. John is also starting to set up a schools club and I
      want to connect with that if I can, plus catching up with Dr Chris and
      others involved with health initiatives at FF. As ever - there will not
      be enough time.

      *Working with schools and cyber cafes*.

      On Monday and Tuesday Caroline and I plan to visit the nomadic schools
      in her project (no space for details here, but ICT related). There is
      overlap with ideas from NC3, schools clubs and use of Cawdnet Campus. We
      are not trying to get expensive equipment into schools but plan to work
      in collaboration with local cyber cafes.

      *Home again*

      On Wednesday we should travel to Abuja ready for my flight home on
      So that gives some idea of plans for the February/March visit.

      January and part of February

      Before the visit e have January and part of February. I have to plan the
      details of the courses and see what progress we can make towards shared
      vision and approaches, towards sustainability, towards more
      collaboration between the three Information Centres and the relevance of
      the link up with Ibadan University. I also need to stimulate interest
      amongst schools on the UK side (or elsewhere) with regard to linking up
      with Nigerian schools clubs.

      *Financial needs*

      There are financial needs related to various projects we are trying to
      do at Fantsuam and in Oyo State and elsewhere. If CAWD - the charity
      from which Cawdnet takes its name - was more active it could support
      these projects. I need to "grow" CAWD. This should be more possible now
      that we have Cawdnet Campus as a collaborative workspace for new CAWD
      volunteers and a source of information for them - but given the only
      active CAWD volunteers at present are Lorraine and me it will take a
      considerable push to make CAWD into an active fundraising organisation
      (ideally one that I could go to for support for projects . At present
      CAWD is, more or less, one more project within Cawdnet that I need to
      support. If I could launch CAWD properly I could concentrate on the
      things that really interest me within Cawdnet and hand over other needs
      to CAWD. I could also respond more positively to requests for help,
      which currently, I have to refuse.

      *Beyond TT*

      Clustering around TT are various replications, adaptations, developments

      People in other locations are interested in TT - but there is a limit to
      what I can do "for nothing," especially when it costs me financially to
      do it - so developing strategies putting TT delivery and development on
      a firm footing is definitely an area investigation for 2007.

      */Andrius asked; What are technologies or methodologies or causes that
      you encourage us to champion?


      Regarding technologies I am looking at appropriate Open Source
      strategies for Cawdnet. Cawdnet Campus runs on Moodle - but we aren't
      making the most of that yet - a mixture of ignorance and "shortage of
      time" (i.e. lamc of people or money to get some). I want to develop
      Cawdnet Campus and our knowledge of Moodle. I would also like to revisit
      or explore other things we have either tried previously and fallen away
      from, or have come across but have not yet mastered. Things that
      immediately spring to mind are our website, blogging, wikis, RSS feeds,
      tagging, video clips and u-tube, web photo albums, Drupal and second
      life as an alternative way to network.

      All of this is for the purpose of enabling ICTs to be used effectively
      to enable people to learn - and a step along the way is to establish
      Special Interest Groups where representatives from bandwidth rich and
      from bandwidth challenged communities can come together to rub minds.

      More questions

      Lots more questions from Andrius, lots more ideas and plans to be worked
      on. Too much time already spent on writing this. Thanks for getting me
      thinking about planning Andrius. I wish I could do some of it by
      “talking” and doodling diagrams. I’m not really very comfortable or
      productive thinking this way – but at least it is better than not having
      any way to explore thoughts. Sorry I haven’t addressed your questions
      properly yet.
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