E-learning is about social networking

December 19, 2007

The former Portuguese minister of education prof. Roberto Carneiro is one of the interviewed persons in this video: http://www.icwe.net/oeb_special/video_oeb2007.php

I think he is right pointing out that e-learning is about social networking, and therefore a challenge of dialogue between people. This years Online Educa gathered 2126 participants from 95 countries, of course real dialogues will be restricted to a few people and still informal dialogues between sessions was probably the most valuable. Dialogues in depth using technology is still a great challenge.

Hansson and Mozelius: video reply on e-learning challenges

December 13, 2007

At Online Educa, Berlin, 2007: Video interview about the major e-learning challenges. Henriks and Peters answer is in fact a long dialogue, but they cut it down to the first two responses, said they run out of tape…  


12 innovative grassroot projects fighting poverty in developing countries

December 9, 2007

Yesterday the winner of the World Challenge 2007 was announced via BBC TV.  Below is a summary of innovative projects in developing countries, the 12 finalists in the World Challenge 2007 “..by BBC World and Newsweek, in association with Shell is all about rewarding individuals or groups that truly make a difference through enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level.”

NO, it is not e-learning, BUT e-learning can disseminate and communicate these successful cases as inspiration and learning for other groups and organizations.It is not really relevant to compete in this field, all are winners, but the competition, highlights initiatives + give incentives to communicate and present projects.

These projects are entrepreneur and business approaches making them sustainable.

Innovative grassroot projects fighting poverty: http://www.theworldchallenge.co.uk/2007_finalists.php

1. COOKING WITHOUT GAS – Foundation for Sustainable Technologies (FoST) – NEPAL Developed simple solar cookers and briquette presses to make smokeless fuel from waste materials.

2. STEAMING AHEAD INDONESIA – The Masarang Palm Sugar Factory Uses waste steam from the power plant to heat the sugar palm sap. A sustainable alternative to the destructive Palm Oil trade. All profits going direct to the farmers’ cooperative. Some 6285 poor farmers and their families.

3. S.O.S: SAVE OUR SEAWEED Ider Project – BRAZIL, Sustainable Algae Cultivation and Marketing Seaweed seeds are attached to anchored ropes. Within two months they have grown into full-size plants ready for harvesting. The seaweed is then dehydrated using solar-powered cleaning and drying machines. Recovery in seaweed-dependent fish stocks.

4. TOP OF THE CROPS Arghand – AFGHANISTAN By creating a market for crops such as almonds, apricots, pistachios and liquorice root, the company reduces opium production without depriving farmers of an income…strike at the chains of poverty and violence that bind the region to the opium poppy.

5. LIMBS FROM LEFTOVERS Mend – NEPAL Develop artificial limbs, tools and other mobility devices within the price range of the poorest Nepalese. An innovative cost-cutting solution – to use everyday wastes as their raw materials. Moulds for artificial legs, for example, are cast from aluminium cans, while the legs themselves are made, in part, from recycled plastics.

6. HALF PRICE HYGIENE Maka – UGANDA The price of imported sanitary pads puts them beyond the reach of Uganda’s poorest families. Keeping costs down by using locally sourced materials – papyrus and paper – and manufacturing the pads on a cottage industry basis.

7. HERBAL HEALING Sa Pa Essentials (SPE) – VIETNAM Sustainable cultivation of the medicinal species. Extracts, processes and markets essential oils from the plants, ensuring at every stage that the communities’ intellectual property rights are respected

8. HIGH SWEET FASHION Mitz – MEXICO Fighting poverty by income-generating weaving of trendy bags and accessories from recycled sweet wrappers.

9. SCHOOL FOR SUCCESS Ecole Paradis des Indiens – HAITI Poverty reduction activities include beekeeping, embroidery, woodworking and fruit-drying schemes. Environmental efforts are focused on reforestation. A microfinance scheme to foster local businesses and lift individual families out of poverty and ten small schools.

10. PEACE WOODS Maderas Para La Paz – COLOMBIA The Peace Woods timber company: keeping former militiamen out of trouble; by offering a way out for those still involved in Colombia’s various militias; and by uniting one-time enemies. Sustainable harvest of wood.

11. POTATO GOLDMINE T’ikapapa – PERU The farmers of Peru’s high Andes are among the poorest in the country, with average incomes of under US $1 per day. Yet these farmers are sitting on something of a goldmine, for the region is home to some 3000 varieties of potato. T’ikapapa was set up to bridge the gap between the Andean farmers and the potato market. 

12. OUT OF THE FOREST Brasmazon and Coopemaflima – BRAZILOn the Marajo Island in the Amazon, fish is vital, but half of the year, the fish migrate and the population suffers. During this period the Andiroba tree deposit its water-born seeds. The Brazilian company Brasmazon saw an opportunity to turn them into an alternative income source. They established a cooperative, Coopemalfilma, to collect the seeds and extract their oil for sale to the cosmetics industry. Brasmazon now buys around 500 tonnes of seeds from the cooperative every year, benefiting around 1000 islanders.

And the winner was…., the potato framers in Peru, nr 11 above!

Bridging the digital divide: One lap top per child, tablet PC:s, recycled computers or smartphones?

December 6, 2007

The one lap top per child is an interesting approach to bridge the digital divide. The 100 dollar computer is pushing price levels down.  

There are competing alternatives not the least smart phones from Nokia and Ericson.  The connection to Internet is a key issue and support will be vital. 

Bengt Oberger, head of I ICT4D helpdesk for Sida, Swedish Embassies & other Swedish Authorities, provides the following statistics: world population today is 6 billion people, 1,1 billion mobile phones is expected to be sold only this year, 4 billion people owns a sim card, next year the number of mobile phones with Internet connections will equal the number of sold computers (250 millions). Price levels for sms is dropping dramatically, only 6 öre per sms in India today (100 öre = 1 SEK).

Back to the OPLC, and thank you Ildiko Mazar for sending the link to “Nicholas Negroponte: The vision behind One Laptop Per Child”, explaining the background, technology and aims of this project.


(Note in the video that they wanted to build the lap top as a “white Volvo”…Swedish)

I will in fact learn more about this approach tomorrow, the 6th december, in Stockholm at a demonstration and seminar arranged by the Swedish Program for Information and Communication Technology in Developing Regions (SPIDER).

Swedish readers can read about the first experiences of OLPC in Uruguay: http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?a=707177   

We have an application in process with the purpose of evaluating the results of these initiatives in a Latin American and  Caribbean context.

Another approach is the Nova 5000. This model is designed with a touch screen and stylus. It comes with a number of programs and content. As battery driven mobile device it can an be used outdoors as well as indoors. http://www.nova5000.com/ And also another perspective on hardware: we have in the developing world millions of second hand computers that work well, they are replaced and pile up as waste each year, shall we throw them away? or equipp them with new free and open software such as Ubuntu and ship them to people who need them? http://www.ubuntu.com/

Important aspects in these efforts are maintenance, durability, repair and support as well as good introductions of how to use the tool both for teachers and students. It will interesting to follow up and study the effects of these tools in practice and its impact on learning and development. In the computer businesses the turnover over new models with ever increasing speed and capacity enabling new activities has been stunning. The updating, replacement and longevity of these cheap models is another important issue. However these opportunities, technologies, and investments are encouraging for the world as whole. Everybody in the global village needs tools, infrastructure for information and communication in order to expand their learning horizons.

Internet help desk service

December 6, 2007

Not an easy job. Thanks, Ken Larsson for sending this video link. http://www.deadtroll.com/index2.html?/video/helldeskcable.html~content

Telecenters in developing countries: current situation and the future

December 6, 2007

5th  Dec 2007 Linda Johansson-Hedberg defended her licentiate dissertation at Stockholm University: “Exploring telecentres as development initiatives Evaluation of telecentre benefits, performance and sustainability, in Malaysia and Mozambique.”

The department of computer and systems sciences, http://www.dsv.su.se/en/ has developed a wide range of e-learning projects among them cooperation with Mozambique and Malaysia.

Professor Love Ekenberg, supervisor, has too a large extent contributed to this. The opponent was Afzal Sher, director of Spider http://www.spidercenter.org/ .

Linda started with an overview of the studies and main conclusions. Thereafter a discussion followed about her conclusions and the role and future of telecenters.

Topics discussed was:

1. Telecenters and its adaptation and relevance for the increasing mobile phone use in the third world.

2. The need for smart mass-education of how to use the ICT-tools, is there an innovative approach to be developed reaching both the need in 100 000 telecenters worldwide, statistics presented by Afzal, who also informed that the number of Internet user in New York exceeds the number of users in Africa, which puts access into perspective.

3. What is local and what is universal in terms of content and skills needed?

4. The physical layout of the telecentres in the study. In a world moving into web.2 and social technology, also the telecentres needs to be designed for social interaction among humans and not only individual interaction with computers as indicated by the photos Linda presented.

 5. Meaningful content and the language issue. Access is not only wires and connection it is also about finding something understandable in local language. The need for development of local language content was highlighted by Linda. And also the potential in open content, open courseware and the Internet as vast repository of content ready to be exploited by people knowing how to search and validate information.  

6. Maybe it is not primary about creating more content, but rather to create meaningful activities (in formal learning), such as the e-tivity approach suggested by Gilly Salmon e t al. This approach was presented convincingly at Online Educa by Dr Alejandro Armellini, University of Leicester, UK: CARPE DIEM: Seizing Each Day for E-Learning Design. Have a look a the Advanced Design for E-Learning (Adelie) website  http://www.le.ac.uk/adelie/ . This group hosts a conference next year, 8 – 9 January 2008 in Leicester: Tuesday 8 Jan 2008: The Campus and BeyondWednesday, 9 Jan 2008: Research Into Practice, see http://www.le.ac.uk/beyonddistance/events/conference2008.html

Linda´s work with her own words:

Telecentres are formal moves to enhance access to Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) where individual access is unavailable or unaffordable. Since the 1990s an emphasis on reaching people in Africa, Asia and Latin America through the spread of telecentres can be ascertained. Telecentre initiatives are commonly motivated to improve people’s lives in poor or marginalised areas, weighing on assumptions that they can be tools for development. Though development motives are frequently underpinning telecentre initiatives the research of how telecentres respond to development issues in reality is yet insufficient. Numerous telecentre initiatives are based on technology-focused agendas and questions of appropriateness are commonly underplayed. And as many telecentres struggle with viability this is consequently bringing a need to learn from shared experiences of telecentres in their local contexts, of what works and works not.
The aim with this thesis is to explore telecentres, as development initiatives, and to identify problems encountered in their local practice towards providing meaningful access to ICTs. For this purpose three case studies of telecentres in Malaysia and Mozambique have been performed, with objectives to evaluate telecentre performance and benefits, and to investigate sustainability indicators in three different telecentre models. Additionally development motives underpinning telecentres and Information Communication Technology for development (ICT4D) initiatives are reviewed.
The results indicated on problems with digital inclusion, poor local involvement, lack of meaningful and relevant services, and insufficient human resources and skills for operation. These scarcities are essential to improve upon if the full potential of the telecentres were to be realised, but also for the telecentres to become valuable and sustainable tools for the communities they aimed to serve. The findings also implied that the main benefits of the telecentres were increased access to ICTs, enhanced awareness of the utility and use of ICTs, and increased opportunities for communication, entertainment, information retrieval, learning and recreation.
To learn from telecentre practice is important in order to elucidate how telecentres can possibly address development concerns. The findings indicated that the benefits from the telecentres were foremost of the advance of individuals, which implicated on several development assumptions underpinning telecentre initiatives. Based on facts of users aspirations and of achieved benefits a less visionary agenda for these telecentres is proposed

Why switching language from swedish to english in this blog?

December 6, 2007

At first, I thought my thoughts was aimed at a swedish audience and from a Swedish perspective. Writing in swedish would be faster more elaborate, better spelling and grammar, since my thinking is in swedish, translating to english will make expressions more crude.  However since the general understanding of swedish is that of the Muppet chef, I will not be able to transmitt much to a wider audience.

 I know that I have two readers of this blog, myself and another, to be inclusive I needed to shift language. I dont know swahili, but in fact I studied it 20 years ago, so I need to change to english, the latin of today.

Have a look at my article about e-learning and language change, written together with Sylvia van de Bunt-Kokhuis


There has been a debate in Sweden about the usefulness of maintaining a language with only 9 million speakers in a global world of 6 billion non swedish speakers. There are about 6000 languages in the world an the number is decreasing every year, once there was more than 200 languages in California. At the same time there are new languages invented like Klingon http://www.kli.org/

nuqDaq 'oH puchpa''e' I need to leave

Understanding technology

December 6, 2007

Maybe the greatest challenge in e-learning, is how to educate users to change their habits, use and understanding of new technology.  And how to organise the frustrating and time consuming support effectively and indivdually. The Swedes always jokes about Norweigans, and vice versa. This video captures the essence of this problem, thank you Lars Glimbert for sending it + informing me how to insert videos into the blog.

Hole in the wall: elearning without teachers

December 5, 2007

Prof. Sugata Mitra, Newcastle University, UK & Chief Scientist Emeritus, NIIT Ltd., IndiaA presented at Online Euca in a vivid way The “Hole in the Wall” Experiments: Self-Organising Systems in Primary Education The hole in the wall project is providing durable computers and Internet access to children in poor countries. The success of this initiative is impressive showing that children’s creativity and networking help them to learn about advanced topics such as DNA-structure without the help of teachers.  Are teachers and schools really necessary then? Is school’s out as Alice Cooper sang in the 1970:s  Shall we leave the children alone as Pink Floyd suggested?  Well, the subsequent discussion arrived at the conclusion that knowledgeable adults, not necessary teachers, is needed to validate, confirm and help children in their knowledge construction. However, this approach makes people happy because these children are the future and the results show when and if they get a chance they take it and surprise all.   

hole in the wall” the start


“hole in the wall” in Uganda

E-learning inom FN: WHO valde Moodle. Online Educa, 2007

December 4, 2007

En av sessionerna på Berlinkonferensen handlade om hur man påbörjat e-learning inom den stora, geografiskt och organisatoriskt vitt spridda FN organisationen. Sylvio Menna presenterade:  “Implementing an e-learning platform at WHO: A case study”. Man sökte en lärplattform som var lätt och snabb att installera, stabil och flexibel, enkel att förändra “look and feel”, hade god sökfunktion, stödde många språk, hade stort stöd globalt samt där det fanns support tillgänglig. Valet föll på Moodle, http://moodle.org/ som Sylvio menade var perfekt för målsättningarna. WHO: http://www.who.int/en/