An OER workshop in Afghanistan

We are very excited that Beyond Distance has been given the opportunity to collaborate with the Geology Department at the University of Leicester, and with Dr Dave Humphreys from the Open University, in running a workshop for academics at the University of Kabul in Afghanistan at the end of February. Dave and I have been working together on the programme  on curriculum design, including a focus on the incorporation of open educational resources (OERs) into the curriculum, which we will facilitate jointly.

The workshop is part of an ongoing series of networking activities between universities in the UK, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as part of a project called DELPHE (Development Partnerships in Higher Education), led by Prof. Mike Petterson from Leicester, and supported by the British Council and DfID. (See Mike’s blog posts on an earlier visit to Kabul here.)

According to the DELPHE project plan:

This project has great potential to focus upon some key British Council and DfiD development goals – especially in education, good governance (at an institutional level) poverty alleviation (through development of highly skilled people, and assistance with economic development, e.g. through increased knowledge in mineral resources).

We are thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute to a very meaningful project, and I’m very much looking forward to finding out from colleagues in Kabul about the usefulness (or otherwise) of OERs in their context.

Watch this space for an update from Kabul in a few weeks’ time…

Gabi Witthaus, 4 Feb 2011

Notes from Kabul

On a more serious note today…

It has been a fascinating experience returning to Afghanistan after a gap of 3 years.  Between 2003 and 2007 I visited Afghanistan some 8 or 9 times as Director of a major institutional strengthening programme for the Ministry of Mines and Industry.  I now return to begin a new modest project working with the Geoscience Faculty of the University of Kabul, which will ‘twin’ the University of Leicester with its Kabul sister for some 3 years.

So begins Mike Petterson’s post today from Afghanistan. You can read Mike’s fascinating retrospective on his visit to this country in 2004, followed by his impressions on his current visit, in the following posts on the ELKS community blog:
Kabul retrospective
Extreme Afghanistan
The future is before my eyes
Kites, cricket, traffic and zips
The aid circus
Geography, geopolitics and geo-beauty
Farewell Kabul: British Council, Peshawar and University Twinning

Mike is collaborating with Beyond Distance on the Giraffe project, and we are also looking forward to an exchange of knowledge around his project with the University of Kabul, where he is working with young, inexperienced staff who are keen to develop new teaching materials and are open to new ideas. According to Mike: “We have to develop materials and products in the knowledge that the internet here is slow or non-existent, and at the moment some areas of the university have one primitive desktop computer for every 11 members of staff, and they don’t even have a photocopier.”

A serious tea discussion

A serious tea discussion

Students at Kabul University (published with permission)

Students at Kabul University (published with permission)

Watch this space for updates…

Gabi Witthaus
This post was updated on 18 June 2010

Focusing on the talent as well as the tech

Sandra’s great blog post about the iPad made the important point of needing to “create and adapt pedagogical frameworks which will make its use meaningful and efficient”. Sandra also eloquently highlighted the importance of tactile learning, something I’d been trying to articulate for a while.

Working in a unit such as Beyond Distance and having access to colleagues with a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience places me in a very privileged position, leaving aside the advantages of being a citizen in a developed country.

But how does this compare with our peers in Africa?   Well, have a look at the photo competition from eLearning Africa’s 5th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training, where Gilly will be a keynote speaker.

Despite facing massive disadvantages, these photos show the ingenuity, hope and the sheer pleasure of education that permeates that continent, and illustrates the potential of what more than 1 billion people can contribute to humanity.

Add to this a powerful sculpture at the British Museum, which is made up entirely of gun parts (barrels, magazines, pistol handles, etc.). And its name? The Tree of Death? The Hopeless Cause? No, it’s the Tree of Life, because once again it represents that African ingenuity and hope.

My point is this: let’s not waste time pitying Africa, but rather work as quickly and comprehensively as possible to help – and learn from – this huge pool of talent. We very much hope Gilly’s visit to the conference will result in such meaningful collaboration.

This is probably my favourite pic from the competition. Why not post yours as a comment to this blog?

On a similar point, there is the very exciting possibility that Beyond Distance will be collaborating with Kabul University, which I hope to blog about in the future.

Simon Kear
Keeper of the Media Zoo
5 May 2010

%d bloggers like this: