Pamela McLean thinks out loud about 2007
- *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
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?
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
*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?
*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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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