africa

School of Open Africa to launch in September

Kayode Yussuf, August 5th, 2014

SOO AfricaV2
(SOO logo here. Earth icon licensed CC BY by Erin Standley from the Noun Project.)

After months of discussions, deliberations, and planning between CC staff, African Regional Coordinators, African Affiliate teams, and others in the open space, Creative Commons Africa is set to storm Africa by having a continent-wide launch for School of Open in September.

School of Open is a global community of volunteers providing free online courses, face-to-face workshops, and innovative training programs on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age. Through School of Open, you can learn how to add a Creative Commons license to your work, find free resources for classroom use, open up your research, remix a music video, and more!

School of Open programs will be launched in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, and South Africa in September on a series of topics ranging from Creative Commons licensing, intellectual property protection, open society concepts, and the Linux operating system .

Strategic collaborations are underway with the Mozilla Foundation, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, WikiAfrica, University of Lagos, University of Tanzania, and the Institute of Educational Management Technology of the Open University of Tanzania to make the launch a success.

School of Open Kenya  

School of Open Kenya already started out as a trail blazer by organizing a two-week after school program that introduces high school students to open culture through the use of online School of Open courses and related open educational resources (OER). The training was designed to satisfy the academic needs of the students and to enable the students to use open tools such as Creative Commons licenses to create and share knowledge, as well as learning required subjects in new and creative ways. The students integrated the School of Open training into their school work and were able to produce projects such as this Titration Demo video by the Lenana School under CC BY. Despite its long strides, Jamlab and CC Kenya are not resting their oars; they will be launching a Train the Trainers program this September where they will train 10+ community members to organize and run SOO workshops in more high schools and in neighboring countries. SOO Kenya will also host a SOO Africa launch event and Maker Party entitled PopJam. Jamlab + CC Kenya, in collaboration with Mozilla Kenya and Wikipedia Kenya, will host the event for 5 high schools in the region. Stay tuned for details!

School of Open South Africa  

CC South Africa hosts three projects under the School of Open initiative. The first is the #OpenAfrica project where in conjunction with WikiAfrica, open advocates from Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda and Ghana were put through an “open” bootcamp. The month-long camp covered Creative Commons, Wikipedia, Open Street Maps, Open Educational Resources (OER), Open Data, Open Government, and related fundraising and community building skills. Advocates returned equipped with “open” knowledge and skills to their home countries to influence and spur their communities into action. This has resulted in the creation of new CC affiliate teams in Ethiopia and Cote d’Ivoire and the launch of open mandated tech hubs in these communities.

Launching off #OpenAfrica, participants were invited to compete for the first Kumusha Bus stop. The Kumusha Bus is an African adaption of the South American Libre Bus. Ethiopia ‘won’ the first Kumusha Bus stop. The team spent four days inspiring, teaching and sharing at GIZ Headquarters in Addis Ababa. Participants from Sheger Media, AIESEC and Addis Ababa University were in attendance. The four days resulted in the launch of Project Luwi. Luwi is an open source project, aiming to increase the application of open source information and communication technologies (ICT). Luwi intends to create a local community of interested volunteers that is able to foster motivation and creativity around Open Educational Resources (OERs) and supports a culture of sharing information freely in Ethiopia.

The third project is the Creative Commons for Kids program (CC4Kids). CC4Kids was built with Obami, a South Africa-based social learning platform. The course is self-taught and takes about 45 minutes to complete. CC South Africa was invited to teach its first course as part of a Maker Party at the Code for Cape Town project (Code4CT) with 24 grade 10 and 11 girls from the Centre for Science and Technology (COSAT) in Cape Town, South Africa. For three weeks the girls were trained on how the web works and actively participated in building web content. Instead of policing students’ actions, CC4Kids teaches youth how to open and share their creative and educational works legally through the use of CC licenses. All the girls now have simple web pages they created. CC4Kids’ next Maker Party will be held at RLabs in August. Stay tuned!

School of Open Tanzania  

CC Tanzania is planning to host three sets of trainings. The first will be an ICT empowerment training for unemployed youth, the second will focus on teaching persons with disabilities how to use computers, and the third will focus on training educators on using ICT to improve how they teach their students. Participants will become new School of Open volunteers, improving and running future training programs as a way to give back to and grow their community. Development will be led by CC Tanzania volunteers with expertise in law, journalism, and information technology. CC Tanzania will host a joint SOO Africa launch event + Mozilla Maker Party, date and location TBD.

School of Open Nigeria  

CC Nigeria will, in five weekends, train participants on Nigerian copyright law, intellectual property protection, and the Linux operating system. The training will have two tracks: the first track being copyright law and the second being the Linux operating System. Participants will have the opportunity to choose either or both tracks. CC Nigeria also plans to host a joint SOO Africa launch event + Mozilla Maker Party during the training. During the event, experienced web users will train participants on easy ways to creating content using Mozilla tools.

SOO Nigeria links:

After the continent-wide launch, participants who attended the courses will have together obtained and built knowledge of open culture, IP protection and ICT skills.

Stay tuned to this blog or sign up for School of Open Announcements to be notified when each program launches in September! Learn more about how you can get involved with the School of Open at http://schoolofopen.org.


About Maker Party

School of Open and Creative Commons is excited to be partnering with Mozilla to celebrate teaching and learning the web with Maker Party. Through thousands of community-run events around the world, Maker Party unites educators, organizations and enthusiastic Internet users of all ages and skill levels.

We share Mozilla’s belief that the web is a global public resource that’s integral to modern life: it shapes how we learn, how we connect and how we communicate. But many of us don’t understand its basic mechanics or what it means to be a citizen of the web. That’s why we’re supporting this global effort to teach web literacy through hands-on learning and making with Maker Party.

About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.

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Affiliate Project Grants Wrap Up

Meryl Mohan, June 23rd, 2014

Affiliate Project Grants Wrap Up
opensource.com / CC BY-SA

One year ago, CC announced the Affiliate Project Grants to support and expand CC’s global network of dedicated experts. With a little help from Google, we were able to increase the capacity of CC’s Affiliates to undertake projects around the world benefiting a more free, open, and innovative internet.

We received over 70 applicants, and we were able to fund 18 to tackle important work in their country – work like using music to break down physical barriers and give Palestinians a voice, gathering leaders in Tanzania to discuss how sharing information can help prevent diabetes, and helping Romanian librarians provide quality educational materials to all.

Watching these projects unfold over the last several months has been reaffirming for everyone at CC. The Affiliates are central to CC’s work, without whom we would simply not be closer to our goal of a more open internet.

Click here to find out the full details of the different grants, and read on to see what our 18 teams had to say on the results they achieved, motivations for their projects, the work still to be done, and lessons learned.

Congrats to the Affiliate teams for all the great work accomplished!

 


Results Achieved

 

 

“We are pleased that we were able to impact the way the people who shared their stories with us think about the concept of sharing stories. Some people when they were asked before to share their suffering and their personal stories on video were not totally sure they wanted to do it, but after seeing the output of their stories reflected on by poets and artists from all over the world, we think we were able to provide them a platform to express themselves and feel part of a greater community that is sharing the same hopes and fears.
[We want to expand] the project concept to other marginalized communities around the world.”
-Bashar Lubbad, Palestine, “Hope Spoken/Broken: Change in the Eyes of Palestinian Refugees

 

“The result was publication of a guide on free culture movements in Arabic and a website where it can be downloaded freely in e-book format: www.freecultureguide.net. We target artists, journalists, bloggers and other content creators and the general public who is unfamiliar to the free culture movement and concepts, as this is the first book of its kind in Arabic about this topic.”
-Ahmed Mansour, CC Morocco, “Creative BookSprint

 

“Lack of consumer level tools is still seen as a major obstacle in CC adoption. WpLicense is now a tool that can be applied to millions of blogs.”
-Tarmo Toikkanen, CC Finland, “WordPress License Revived

 

“More concretely, participants learnt how to: adapt traditional services to a non-traditional model; locate learning objects that can be reused under CC licence; investigate and use alternative publishing platforms; and apply project management processes to a hack project.”
-Matt McGregor, CC New Zealand, “Media Text Hack


The Cookbook / CC BY

 

“Museums and other memory institutions in Taiwan often have their collections digitized.
A major part of the digitized works shall be in the public domain. However, many of these institutions often keep these works in the equivalents of digital safes, and there are no easy ways to access and reuse them. Together with Netivism Ltd. (a social enterprise based in Taipei) CC Taiwan engaged with memory institutions and independent collectors in Taiwan about the tools and practices for public domain repositories.
Exemplary public domain repositories are being setup using MediaGoblin (a free software package for hosting media collections) with new extensions developed for and supported by this project grant.”
-Tyng-Ruey Chuang, CC Taiwan, “Practices and Depositories for the Public Domain”

 

 

“As a result of the interaction, the students were able to experience the Open culture which has caused a boom in the Kenyan tech scene. They identified industries that were etched on the sole foundation of Open tools in Kenya and were able to understand more experientially than before, the importance of such ideals.”
-Simeon Oriko, CC Kenya, “School of Open Kenya Initiative


 

“Obami, a platform for resource exchange for elementary school students, has seen a number of copyright violations. Instead of policing kids’ actions, the Creative Commons for Kids program will teach kids how to open and share their creative and educational works legally through the use of CC licenses [...] introducing Creative Commons to the next generation of Africa.”
-Kelsey Wiens, CC South Africa, “Creative Commons For Kids”

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Motivations

 

“Despite all the work we have done, CC is still an unknown concept to most people in the Arab region. We live in a copy/paste region where it will take a lot of hard work for people to understand the concepts of attribution. After a series of CC presentations in local schools (ages 12 to 18), we found that CC awareness is almost non-existent. On the other hand, our videos at wezank.com have been very popular online and we believe that using this asset to spread CC’s mission & vision would be highly effective across the region. [... This project] is about creating content in Arabic for the CC community, and at any stage, anyone wishing to present CC in Arabic will be able to use those videos.”
-Maya Zankoul, CC Lebanon, “CC Simply Explained in Arabic

Wezank
wezank.com / CC BY

 

“[Information is power]… In Africa, this rich geography of information doesn’t yet exist. And not because there isn’t the richness of knowledge, history or place, but, for a number of reasons, because there is little culture of contribution to the Internet.”
-Kelsey Wiens, Cross Regional Africa, “Activate Africa”

 

“If the government [in Japan] adopts CC BY or CC zero, data released under these terms will bring scalable impact on the public in a sense that it will help reuse of government data with minimum restrictions. The workshop materials are open to the public, and some of the attendees will learn to teach others, which give the project some ripple effects beyond its immediate outcomes.”
-Tomoaki Watanabe, CC Japan, “Workshops and Symposium for Open Data in Japan”

 

 

“In the Arab world there were several personalities who have a positive influence in the history of their country, in  different areas. That’s why I wish to publish with the help of the Arab community, an Arabic book under CC license, which tells us their lives, stories, and their influence on their own countries.”

-Faiza Souici, CC Algeria, “Arabic Icons”

 


“In Colombia, libraries and librarians have become one of the important civil society groups that are collectively seeking information, understanding and participating in public spaces trying to redefine copyright as a tool for access to knowledge and not just as a source of income for some people. [...] The material in this course will be open as a self-guided course that can be tapped on demand — individually, at a user-preferred time and date. Moreover, the course can be harnessed as a group, from a collective or specific institution, to be facilitated according to the possibilities and conditions of a given community.”
-Maritza Sanchez, CC Colombia / El Salvador / Uruguay, “An Online Course on Basic Copyright for Latinamerican Librarians”

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Work on the Horizon

 

 

“Latin Americans are creating and freely making available high quality and innovative music independently from big companies. But it is necessary to work better on both musicians understanding their rights and the power of sharing.”
-Renata Avila, CC Guatemala, “Promoting Free Music in Central and South America”

 
 

“While Chile has encouraged the creation of open access journals nationwide, researchers with high rates of publication and citation do not see them as a real possibility when publishing. Any policy to promote the creation of journals in Chile should consider factors that give them an edge in the scientific circuit and thus becoming a real possibility by leading Chilean scientists.”
-Francisco Vera, CC Chile, “Promotion of Open Knowledge in the Chilean Academia: Ways to Facilitate Adoption of Creative Commons in the Academic World

 

“The conclusion of this project is that there are only building blocks for Open Educational Resources (OER) in Romania since at the moment there is not a clear OER practice – only grassroots initiatives or projects with huge potential of becoming OER. Most of the projects we discovered in essence share the same philosophy behind OER, but they nevertheless omit to attribute a license for the created resources. In conclusion, more awareness and training activities are needed in order to reach a level of maturity regarding OER and their use.”
-Bogdan Manolea, CC Romania, “OER Awareness Activities for Librarians and Academics in Romania


CC Romania / CC BY

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Lessons Learned

 

 

“Because many pupils and students cannot access hard copy textbooks which are discouragingly expensive, the importance of Creative Commons licenses in closing the literacy gaps which have been brought about by income inequality cannot be overstated.”
-Moses Mulumba, CC Uganda, “Promoting Creative Commons Initiatives in Uganda


 

 
 

“The lessons that I learnt and which I can share is that grants from CC headquarters however, small [has great] potential impact to CC Affiliates as it acts as catalysts to the Affiliates to keep things going and mobilizing other funds locally.”
-Paul Kihwelo, CC Tanzania, “Tanzania Creative Commons Salon

 
 


 
 

“We learnt that there is a high level of interest in Creative Commons in Ireland, and a need to continuously engage with people who are interested in Creative Commons.”
-Darius Whelan, CC Ireland, “Awareness-raising Event in Dublin, January 2014

 
 
 

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School of Open gets a facelift, plus other news

Jane Park, June 17th, 2014

Since our last comprehensive update, the School of Open has been creating new courses, planning continent-wide launches, conducting research, and making itself over.

soo webpage sn

New Web Space

We have a new web space! Previously, communications about our major projects have been scattered throughout the blogosphere and various wiki, Lernanta, and WordPress pages. But today we are happy to announce that there is one place you can visit to learn about and get involved with the School of Open, including newbies who just want to find a course to take.

Our web address hasn’t changed; it’s still http://schoolofopen.org. We invite any and all feedback at our new discussion space.

New Courses

After wrapping our first round of facilitated courses on copyright, Creative Commons, and Wikipedia earlier this year, we continued to develop courses for independent or group study. Here are the ones we recently launched, including a collaboration with Mozilla’s Webmaker initiative!

(Check out all of our stand-alone courses regardless of when they launched.)

How to use Open Educational Resources (OER)

Developed by Boyoung Chae and co. over at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), this course was initially designed to help onboard community college faculty and staff with the CC BY–licensed textbooks coming out of WA’s Open Course Library project. We’ve since worked with them to adapt the course for the general public!

The self-paced modules walk you through how to incorporate open educational resources into your teaching practice, in addition to using open licenses and locating existing OER. One past participant said,

“How to Use OER is a great introduction to this amazing development in education. This will establish a good foundation for understanding the various components of open resources or fill in gaps that you might have. I am grateful the course will remain open after completion so that the materials and discussions can be revisited.”

ABC of Copyright for Librarians in Latin America

This Spanish language course seeks to help librarians and library users strengthen their knowledge of copyright laws in Latin America and the challenges that exist to access to information in the 21st century. CC affiliates from Colombia, El Salvador and Uruguay, in collaboration with the Karisma Foundation, developed this course in response to increasingly restrictive copyright laws in Latin America and around the globe. The course contains examples, analysis and open models based on Latin American cases and legislation. Read more about the course launch here.

Mozilla Webmaker Training for Teachers (and other web users)

Mozilla Webmaker is all about transforming web users into web makers, aka citizens of the web who do more than just consume content, but also create it while leveraging open resources and tools. The new Mozilla Webmaker Training for Teachers embeds knowledge about open throughout its set of self-paced modules that will help you to:

  • “Integrate the mechanics, culture and citizenship of the web into your practice.”
  • “Bring creativity to your teaching through open, participatory methods.”
  • “Connect with fellow mentors and educators (especially those in your local area) to share knowledge and resources.”

New Survey

In collaboration with the OER Research Hub, we’ve been conducting research on the impact of School of Open courses. As part of this project, we invite you to participate in a survey we created for participants of stand-alone courses.

If you haven’t taken a course yet but plan to, the survey is linked at the end of every stand-alone course so you can take it when you do complete it. The survey will remain open through the end of August. If you have ever gone through a School of Open course on your own, please:

New Plans for a School of Open Africa

Volunteers in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Nigeria are planning for a School of Open Africa launch in September. Each region will develop and run a training program or course on the use and application of open resources. Stay tuned for a guest post detailing plans, and check out the current programs running in Kenya and South Africa for now:

School of Open Kenya Initiative
Creative Commons for Kids (South Africa)
Activate Africa (South Africa)


Interested in any of the above activities? Get Involved.

To receive future updates like this one, sign up for School of Open Announcements.


About the School of Open

SOO-logo-100x100

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.

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New CC Kenya Hosts CC Salon in Sub-Sahara Africa

Jessica Coates, September 16th, 2013

Mt. Kenya
Mt. Kenya / Chris 73 / CC BY-SA

Guest post by Elizabeth Kiragu Wanjugu and Tobias Schonwetter

As we were busy getting ready for our community Global Summit a few weeks ago, we nearly missed the announcement of another very important addition to that community – our new CC Kenya affiliate.

Our new Kenyan team is based around two Nairobi-based affiliate institutions: Strathmore University‘s Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (CIPIT) and the National Council for Law Reports (NCLR). CIPIT – led by Dr. Isaac Rutenberg – is Kenya’s Public Lead, while the NCLR – led by Michael Murungi – serves as CC Kenya’s Legal Lead institution.

CC Kenya Logo

The Kenyan team is supported by a large existing CC community in the country, which has been active for quite some time. Unsurprisingly, therefore, a number of projects and activities are already under way. The NCLR’s Kenya Law Report already uses CC’s Public Domain Mark for its content, the team has been a major contributor to bringing the School of Open to the region, and there is an exciting initiative to translate some of CC’s licence tools into Kiswahili. According to the new team, Kenya’s thriving cultural industry requires access to shareable resources that facilitate remixing, and CC Kenya also strives to support newly realisable democratic freedoms by enabling widespread access to knowledge and information. CC Kenya makes East Africa now one of the most active regions for CC in Africa with affiliate teams in Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

One of the first major activities of the new team, even before they had formally launched, was Kenya’s inaugural Creative Commons Salon. Held on 6 June, 2013 at Nairobi’s iHub and themed, “using technology as a democratizing tool, especially one that will level the playing field for education and opportunity in Kenya,” the event drew approximately 50 participants from different backgrounds.

Organised by Akili Dada in partnership with newly established team, the Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (CIPIT) and Jamlab.

Akili Dada is a leadership incubator investing in high-achieving young African women from underprivileged backgrounds who are passionate about social change. CIPIT is CC Kenya’s Public Lead while Jamlab drives the School of Open in Kenya.

In her opening remarks Allison Domicone, Akili Dada’s Director of Development (and who incidentally ran CC Salons from late 2008 through early 2011 and helped grow them significantly while working with Creative Commons in San Francisco, California) welcomed the attendees then asked Alex Gakuru, Creative Commons Africa Regional Coordinator, to say a few words.

Expressing optimism for continued growth, Alex reflected on the positive reception thus far accorded to Creative Commons in Kenya and across Africa.

The panelists comprised Michael Muringi, CEO/Editor National Council for Law Reports; CC Kenya Legal Lead, Judith Owigar, President of Akirachix; Paul Kihwelo, Public Lead of Creative Commons Tanzania; and Simeon Oriko, Co-Founder of Jamlab. Akili Dada founder Wanjiru Kamau Rutenberg moderated the session.

Discussions on how technology can be harnessed as democratizing tool delved into how it can be made more accessible to all people with a special attention to girls and women given local statistics that they constitute only 15 percent of a technology field dominated by men. Discussion around access was extended to include access to online resources, empowering instruments and digital tools such as the mobile phone.

Discussants established among major barriers to access included: Inequitable financial access; Lack of knowledge; Absent or unpredictable electricity; Resultant societal stereotyping; to name but just a few. Probing, “What exactly is a level playing field?” was asked at the question session, with panelists responding as follows:

Jamlab – “A level playing field enables a person to achieve goals that s/he has set for own self.”

Creative Commons Tanzania – “A level playing field is where a person can have a balance between retaining ownership and encouraging open access to shared creative works.”

National Council for Law Reporting – “A level playing field is where any citizen gains access to justice without having to relying on costly representation through legal intermediaries.”

Akirachix – “A level playing field is where information is provided to enable girls to make informed career choices.”

Noted challenges included socialization in technology that favoured men over women, parents preferring to take the girl child to secretarial colleges to study languages and at best computer packages rather than encouraging them to venture into computer programming/coding and website development.

“Fortunately, the challenge is slowly being conquered by educating parents on importance of technology to the economy,” said Judith Owigar.

In Tanzania, librarians are championing the cause of Open Educational Resources (OER) due to their background and understanding of the importance of equitable access to knowledge.

Thereafter, the moderator invited audience participation with a reaction that children between 3 and 7 years were most impressionable urging stakeholders to focus their girlhood education and empowerment efforts on that age group.

Responding, Simeon Oriko said at that age the children were best under their parents care learning everything from parents. Jamlab chose to target high school students where youth peer influence, including what they see on social media, have the most impact on their adult character.

Professor Suki Mwendwa cautioned that technology, per se, should not be viewed as the solution to all access problems:

“Reading should be encouraged and technology used as a tool to increase access to knowledge. Technology having a seductive nature should also be regulated at home so that the children can be well rounded.”

The event ended with the moderator narrating inspiring stories of successful women providing role models for the younger generation — and encouraging others to do the same. She called upon more women to step forward to rally behind a solid community of mentors to change the world as we know it today.

It was a very informative interaction and well acknowledged. The audience later engaged and networked while enjoying the refreshments and food courtesy of NCLR sponsorship.

I thank Akili Dada, Creative Commons, Akirachix and Jamlab for taking the time to collect and relay information on matters of access and also women in technology. We look forward to the next CC Salon, perhaps in Tanzania, considering that CC Tanzania expressed their interest in replicating the event back home.

Correction: The original article incorrectly listed Kenya’s Salon as the first CC Salon held in Sub-Sahara Africa. The first was actually held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2006.

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Want to work with CC in Africa and Asia? Changes to our Regional Project Manager team

Jessica Coates, March 20th, 2012

NASA Blue Marble by NASA Goddard Photo and Video, on Flickr
NASA Blue Marble / NASA Goddard Photo and Video / CC BY

Some important changes are taking place in CC’s Regional Project Manager (RPM) team, the group responsible for coordinating and supporting our worldwide affiliate network. Two of our RPMs – Chiaki Hayashi, RPM for the Asia-Pacific, and Aurelia J. Schultz, RPM for Africa – will be transitioning out of their current roles to new positions in the CC community.

This makes way for two new RPM candidates to join our team.

Chiaki and Aurelia have both worked with CC for many years, and have long provided support for our Asian and African communities. When the RPM positions were created last year, they were the logical choices to begin the roles for the Asia-Pacific and Africa. However, with activity in both regions growing rapidly, they each feel they can no longer devote the time to their RPM duties that the community deserves, and so are choosing to step down. Aurelia will spend more time on her existing position in CC HQ’s legal team, while Chiaki will continue to work with us as a volunteer Culture and GLAM Special Project Coordinator.

This transition provides an exciting opportunity for two new people to step into the RPM roles for the Asia-Pacific and Africa. You can find the full position descriptions here, but in summary, each position aims to “assist Creative Commons… with organizational planning, strategic communications, community building, and fundraising in… support of the organization’s mission, goals and objectives” in the respective region. Essentially, this amounts to supporting our local affiliates to promote use and knowledge of CC, coordinating regional activities and communications, and facilitating collaboration between affiliates and the broader international community.

So if you have an interest in community management, open access and Creative Commons, and have ties to Africa or the Asia-Pacific, we’d love to hear from you.

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Back to School: Open Educational Resources in Africa

Aurelia J. Schultz, September 1st, 2009

As students around the world return to school, ccLearn blogs about the evolving education landscape, ongoing projects to improve educational resources, education technology, and the future of education. Browse the “Back to School” tag for more posts in this series.

In the United States, the turn from August into September means new pencils, books and backpacks as the nation’s students start a new school year. In other parts of the world, students are returning from semester breaks or going on with classes as usual. And in some cases, with almost no books, let alone new ones.

This is far too often the case in many African schools. Teachers face not only a lack of student materials, but also a lack of access to teaching resources. For years generous donors have attempted to address this problem by supplying schools copies of textbooks, desks and other equipment. Helpful in many ways, but merely giving supplies doesn’t alleviate some of the biggest problems. Take the text books for example.

In many countries, the required text books are outdated. Governments cannot afford newer books, so without a market, new books don’t get written. Sometimes newer books might exist, but only in one language. For a country attempting to teach primary school in several native languages, this presents a huge problem, especially when considering the copyright restrictions on translating a work. The same situations exist for teaching materials as well as text books.

Enter open educational resources, or OER.

OER are materials, tools, and media used for teaching and learning that are free from copyright restrictions or publicly licensed for anyone to use, adapt, and redistribute. And several organizations around the continent are using OER to address the specific challenges surrounding access to teaching materials:

Siyavula LogoIn South Africa, a new project of the Shuttleworth Foundation is helping South African primary and secondary school teachers share their resources. The aim of Siyavula (pronounced see-ah-hoo-la) is to ensure that South Africa has a complete OER curriculum for all primary and secondary grades. The project was designed with the new South African school curriculum in mind, which requires teachers to develop more of their own content. Some teachers formed small groups to adapt to the new South African curriculum requirements, sharing their developments with their groups and offering each other support. Siyavula is building upon this model, helping new groups to form and offering workshops on developing, finding and sharing resources.

The Siyavula system includes a large repository of curriculum, currently complete from grades R (like the US’s kindergarten) through 9 in both English and Afrikaans. One great part of the Siyavula system is that as teachers develop and adapt materials, they submit them back into the Siyavula system where the materials are reviewed by curriculum advisers. This ensures the OER materials always meet the country’s education standards. Because OER are, well, open, there are no restrictions on translating works like there are on materials under full copyright. This has allowed Siyavula users to translate much of the material into Xhosa. Ideally other languages will follow.

oer africa logoWhile Siyavula is tackling primary and secondary education, another organization is focusing on higher education across Africa. OER Africa is currently active in several countries across the continent. Through partnerships with various universities in Africa and elsewhere, OER Africa helps facilitate the sharing of resources between universities and training schools. This program is particularly exciting because it has African universities sharing with each other, instead of just receiving materials from the United States or Europe. Additionally, in the instances where African universities and outside universities are partnered together, the relationship really is mutually beneficial.

One example of the mutual beneficial relationships in OER Africa was explained by Project Director Catherine Ngugi during the Open Education 2009 conference keynote address. Collaboration between the University of Michigan and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in the Health OER program has given students at KNUST access to materials that help them study common medical issues and has given students at Michigan resources about infectious diseases to which they otherwise would not have had access. (As someone who has had to worry about doctors in the US not knowing enough about tropical medicine, this exchange makes me really happy.) KNUST and Michigan also share and receive information with schools in Ghana and South Africa.

OER does more than just supply teachers with educational materials. It helps them customize their curriculum to their own needs, their own locations and their own students. Organizations like Siyavula and ORE Africa are helping to change the face of education on the continent, for the better. Creative Commons is proud that its licenses help make that possible.

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PALM Africa Releases “Genocide by Denial” Under CC License

Cameron Parkins, June 1st, 2009

PALM Africa, an African CC-based publishing project, just released their first open-access book from AIDS specialist Peter Mugyenyi titled, Genocide by Denial: How profiteering from HIV/AIDS killed millions. The book is being released under a CC BY-NC-ND license making it free to download and share. PALM is using the release to test the impact open access initiatives have on book sales but, as noted by Eve Gray, there is another reason this license choice is so important (emphasis added):

The timing is impeccable, as the release of the open access version of the book coincides exactly with a breakthrough at the World Health Organisation, which has finally reached agreement on a global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property [...] Among the recommendations in the WHO plan of action is government intervention to ensure voluntary sharing or research, open access publication repositories and open databases and compound libraries of medical research results. Thus Fountain’s engagement with open access publishing on a public health topic is right in line with – and ahead of – developing global policy.

PALM and Mugyenyi’s license choice thus becomes a practice in the very lessons they are attempting to teach. Beyond this, Gray argues that “Mugyenyi’s book needs to be read by the South African bureaucrats who are trying to enforce widespread and rigid commercialization of public research”, a task that while difficult, is made easier due to the free sharing encouraged by their license choice.

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