John Daly’s feeds

I know some of you usually read John Daly’s blogs but, lately, there have been lots of problems reading them through syndication.

He just wrote to me and told me he had – finally – fixed them. I checked it out and they work. Good!

For those not familiar with John Daly:

Thoughts About K4D

This Blog deals with “Knowledge for Development” (K4D). I am especially interested in donor assistance policies and projects seeking to enhance knowledge systems in developing countries. Science and technology is a key concern So too is information and communications technology) in developing nations.


UNESCO-Related Science and Communications News

The United States has recently rejoined the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, The U.S. scientific community has maintained contact with UNESCO programs, but it is now time to strengthen those ties. UNESCO is a key player in development communications and should link more closely with the U.S. development communications community.

By the way, this second one is quite new (saw the light last week).

Shared awareness key to successful computer-supported collaboration

This is quite off topic but it will be useful in my speech in Madrid on Friday: an article at Penn State – Shared awareness key to successful computer-supported collaboration – mainly about networking:

Team members can collaborate more successfully and create better solutions to complex, ill-defined problems by using software tools that support members’ shared understanding of long-term goals, plans, challenges and allocation of resources

This is, more or less, what I think of networking with the support of intranets and virtual volunteers as a backoffice for not-in-house staff, be them expatriate volunteers and experts or, simply, people at decentralized offices.

And the gem:

“[Activity] Awareness [in the sense of knowing more about the project] is both a process and a product,” the researchers wrote. “The more aware people are, the less there is a need to coordinate activities.”

[via Nancy White at Full Circle Associates Online]

Google Scholar… for Development

César tells me about Google Scholar (beta), that enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature.

You might think this is quite simple but here are some cute searches I made. I do invite you to see the results:

If you can suggest interesting queries, please let me know :)

Can E-learning break the Digital Divide?

From Online Learning Update, as enlightening as always! :))

Jozef Hvorecký, from the Vysoká škola manažmentu, publishes in the European Journal of Distance Learning an article entitled Can E-learning break the Digital Divide? – not very optimistic, I dare say…

He starts stating some counterarguments against the optimistics’ vision of “students in Third-World countries. In accordance to well-known practices of e-learning the students would study on their own pace by self-learning”:

Language barrier: Evident, specially at primary school level.

Absence of prerequisites: Say, lack of national qualified teachers to carry on with (especially) e-learning.

Technology hurdles: Evident too. The author passes quickly over this subject – maybe it’s too evident to spend too much time – but there’s lot more problems than he states: power (electricity), hardware, software, connectivity, digital illiteracy…

Difficulties with translation: (I guess it is same point than the first one, but under a new point of view)

He then explains his own experience in teaching three courses and, with some statistical data collected in these courses, he concludes:

Economic and organizational aspects of e-learning are often overlooked by its proponents, the necessity of building a proper infrastructure as well (Hvorecký, Rebro, 2004). The expenses generated by e-learning are high (preparation of courses, instructor training, class control, costs of supporting software, reliable mainframe as the carrier of the communication, network expenditure, etc.). The tuition must be such, too. It is naïve to believe that this will change soon.

To profit from e-learning, one should live on “the right side” of the Digital Divide.

Oh, my… :(

Collaborative creation of e-Learning Objects

In a post I wrote back in October (Is the free software model of production applicable to free educational content?) I talked about an article by Sergio Monge dealing with whether the free software model of production was applicable to free educational content.

Now, surfing around I get to a summary of the Special Interest Group Open Source for Education in Europe Seminar, held the 2nd October in the Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

There I’ve discovered a collaborative environment/tool to create e-Learning Objects called Eudukalibre:

Edukalibre is a project funded by the European Comission under the Socrates/Minerva program (aimed at the promotion of information and communications technology in education). Its main goal is to explore new ways of producing educational materials, based in the practices and procedures observed in the libre (free, open source) software development community.

Of course, the resulting software is F/OSS and it is being integrated with Moodle.

Anyway, the article by Sergio Monge was not about tools but more about strategy, policy and behavior of the community of authors, but I think a well designed tool can enhance the weakest points of this community.

By the way, I don’t know whether Edukalibre (“Freeducation”) is a good tool – they’re just in half their way through the project – but it looks, so far, a good start, but with a lot of work to be done.

Blogger Corps III: the return of the NPO blogger

Blogger Corps is born.

Put simple: bloggers related to NPO, cooperation for development, etc. acting as e-volunteers to foster blogging for nonprofit projects and organizations or, in their own words, matching bloggers with activists and non-profit groups who want to blog and need help getting started.

The idea first came out thanks to Rebecca MacKinnon and was put to practice by John Stanforth.

I talked about it on Monday and on Tuesday.

I wish them us the best of lucks in the new project. I’ve yet to know how but surely get involved one way or another. I thought it was a better idea to foster already established former online volunteering platforms, but once the project is out, we’d better help it out the best we can :)