P2P Foundation

The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives

Networked learning in Africa and elsewhere

See http://www.dadamac.net/

Via Pameal McLean:

Dear Michel

You forwarded a CALL FOR PAPERS on networked learning to P2P, with "thanks for spreading this, and considering your contribution". I am therefore considering the relevance of what I know and replying bot directly to P2P and via an open letter to http://dadamac.posterous.com/

I think some of the things I know regarding the work of Dadamac and Minciu Sodas would be of interest regarding the call for papers that you mentioned: Peer-to-Peer Collaboration and Networked Learning. Dadamac's work is about enabling collaboration (mostly, but not only, between between UK and Nigeria) and is usually about networked learning of one kind and another. We could never have come together and collaborated before the existence of the Internet. http://www.dadamac.net/about-us. ; Minciu Sodas (Lithuanian for Orchard of Thoughts) is a large online community, which Andrius Kulikauskas started eleven years ago and which has enabled an immeasurable amount of learning.

In Dadamac (and in a different way through Minciu Sodas) people are exploring various ways of using the Internet to create collaborative communities, to network, and to learn from each other.

For instance Dadamac's Cameras for Communication course was jointly developed by Riccardo (in UK) and by the people who subsequently presenting the course in Nigeria. To greatly oversimplify the division of labour: Ricardo in the UK provided the course content words and the Nigerians provided local photos. http://www.dadamac.net/projects/cameras4communication

The initial development of People's Uni was another cross cultural collaboration made possible by the Internet (Prof Dick Heller in UK and John Dada in Nigeria) http://www.dadamac.net/projects/peoplesuni Dadamac is now doing a new collaboration with People's Uni to produce a distance learning course on Sickle Cell Disease for health professionals. This blog post explains the need http://www.dadamac.net/blog/20100204/sickle-cell and this one explains the response and move towards course development http://www.dadamac.net/blog/20100319/starting-new-dadamac-ok-projec...

Since that blog post five health professionals have joined the course development team. As I remember from the introductions, I think they all Doctors (I know that three of them are) and they are all in different locations, (scattered across three different countries in Africa). At present we are introducing ourselves, discovering how "bandwidth rich or bandwidth challenged" our team members are, and discussing what should be included on the course. It will be a challenge. The work has no funding, but there is a need, People's Ini provides the online venue and the structure for developing and presenting the course, and people are willing to put in time to do it, so we will give it a go.

Lots of things going on that relate to Peer-to-Peer Collaboration and Networked Learning which are far outside of the formal educational system, However,t most of the learned papers are (naturally) written by people who are in the formal educational system so they write what they know and the non-formal stuff tends to be less well known. One of my favourite examples of practical non-formal learning is this one about cholera prevention. http://learnbydoinguk.blogspot.com/2009/01/tom-ricardo-and-life-sav...

There are lots of other stories of how people are getting together online to "rub minds" - but the people who do it are usually more concerned with exchanging information than telling people about what is happening. There are many situations where people are asking and answering questions and just generally helping each other to learn. It is what friends have always done for each other - except that now, instead of the friends helping "over your shoulder"they are helping "over the Internet".

Even if this is of interest I won't be writing it up for the journal that you mention, because, rightly or wrongly I assume the journal is by academics for academics, and I am not part of that culture. Years ago (if I saw a call for case-studies) I used to sometimes try to cross the boundary between "academics" and "practitioners' by writing up what I knew, but the gap was too wide. I don't know the academic references that would enable me to place what I do know in the context of academic research, and I lack various other skills related to academic writing. Understandably, in an academic peer-review situation my offerings seem inappropriate and journalistic.

However, now and again, it does seem worth just popping up on the edge of academia to "smile and wave and make friendly noises". Then if any academics do want to cross the divide between formal and non-formal education they will know that there are people on this side of the gap ready to make them welcome.

If there are any academics who would be interested in knowing more about the items I have mentioned (or about related items) with a view to sharing knowledge about non-formal learning (perhaps even writing a paper about it) I would be happy to help.

Pamela McLean
UK-Africa Connections
Dadamac Ltd - Knowledge Brokers

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