high school

School of Open Kenya Initiative

Kasyoka Mutunga, March 19th, 2013

This is a guest post by Kasyoka Mutunga, Precious Blood Secondary School Alumna and Executive Director of Jamlab, a community of former high school students providing peer mentorship, learning through the use of open educational resources, and using the Internet to objectively achieve their goals and actualize their ideas — while actively solving issues in their communities. Kasyoka is leading the School of Open Kenya Initiative as part of the volunteer CC Kenya community.

Young girls are teamed up in the heart of Nairobi. They are as hyperactive as any teenager would be. They have their aspirations, their goals, and their fears. From their chatter, they are afraid of the same things as I was. They are afraid of the upcoming exams, they are afraid to stay out late, they are afraid to miss the tickets to the upcoming concert, they are afraid that the pizza I ordered will be less than what they can enjoy, they are even afraid that their boyfriends are seeing other girls. However, today, sitting here I realize that there is one a major fear sparking off.

School of Open at the Precious Blood School
School of Open at the Precious Blood School / jamlab / CC BY-NC-SA

Two weeks before, Jamlab rolled out to introduce School of Open ideals to young girls in the Precious Blood School. The response was overwhelming. The girls came out in huge numbers. We cheerfully introduced Creative Commons to them. It was so intriguing that they went out and scavenged the rest of the Internet world for themselves. Soon, we were discussing the value of open in a world where “withheld” is what feels secure. We had to see the James Boyle video to understand exactly what we were all so afraid of when the concept of “Open” initially repelled us. The Initiative was at the end of that week launched formally at the School by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr Bitange Ndemo.


Students at Precious Blood School
jamlab / CC BY-NC-SA

Dr Bitange Ndemo
Dr Bitange Ndemo
jamlab / CC BY-NC-SA

Two weeks later, we sat in a balcony to proactively decide what the students would do with the knowledge they had acquired. They wanted to start companies, they wanted to build organizations, they wanted to make solar panels for their communities, and maybe even create a library system. They had all these ambitions building gradually in them and now maybe, they had the hope of actualizing them irrespective of their age or background. “You know…” I heard one say, “Big people everywhere are fighting for the Internet to remain open and accessible as it was set out to be. We have joined that fight… because for us, we are fighting for a life we can better!” There were giggles and murmurs but those words have stuck with me since.

Making CC videos
Making CC videos / jamlab / CC BY-NC-SA

Finally, we decided on the project to take on together. It was something that resonated with everyone present. Today, they are bundled up behind cameras, behind computers and on the Internet, on YouTube actually. They are working on releasing short videos of their teachers teaching various subjects, licensing them under Creative Commons, and uploading them to YouTube. They are doing this for the thousands of young people who don’t get a chance to go to high school in Kenya.

Looking at their determination, I know that their major fear is that the world will leave them behind… that at the end of their time, they will simply have existed. I am excited about the videos and will send a link as soon as the girls learn how to edit them. However, I know that they ought not be afraid. Creative Commons has given them a reason to be extraordinary… and a reason to make others extraordinary too.

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Digital Open Winners Announced

Jane Park, October 14th, 2009

CC BY by the Digital Open

CC BY by the Digital Open

I blogged about the Digital Open in April, a new online community and competition that was accepting free and open technology projects from anyone 17 or younger through August. The competition was aimed at fostering an online and open community of youth by encouraging them to see the benefits of open source and open licensing.

Since then the jury has come in to announce eight grand prize winners. The first video profile is the Centralized Student Website from Fremont, California, by Raymond Zhong and Aatash Parikh. They’ve gone ahead and built a student portal for their high school, where virtually any school activity, especially student clubs, are accessed. Other winners include a Casa Ecologica in Spain and a Hybrid Airship. Be sure to check back for more videos.

Except where otherwise noted, all content on the Digital Open is available via CC BY. The Digital Open is the result of a joint partnership between the Institute for the Future, BoingBoing, and Sun Microsystems.

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Community, Innovation, and Rights on the Web Essay Contest

Jane Park, July 20th, 2009

CIENTEC, the Foundation for the National Center for Science and Technology based in Costa Rica, has announced its XI (eleventh) annual National Science Essay contest (the second to come out in both English and Spanish). The contest is open to all high school students around the country, inviting them to write on this year’s theme, “Community, Innovation, and Rights on the Web.” Essays from abroad are also accepted, but into a separate “guest” category. From the site,

“The Internet has transformed the lives of people, interconnecting them and giving them access to information, videos, and more. It fosters creativity and collaborative work in the development of new products, but often creates a conflict between easy access and the rights of authors. Some groups, like Creative Commons, have initiated a global movement to address this problem.”

The deadline for entries is September 15, 2009.

The same announcement in Spanish:

COMUNIDAD, INNOVACIÓN Y DERECHOS EN LA RED

La Internet ha transformado la vida de las personas, interconectándolas y dando acceso a información, música, videos y demás. Esta red potencia la creatividad y el trabajo colaborativo en el desarrollo de nuevos productos, pero frecuentemente genera conflictos entre el fácil acceso y los derechos de autor. Algunos grupos, como Creative Commons, han iniciado un movimiento global para facilitar el proceso.

Check out the full announcement, and last year’s winners here.

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ccLearn at the Whipple Hill User Conference 09

Jane Park, July 2nd, 2009

ccLearn presented on CC and Open Educational Resources at the WhippleHill User Conference yesterday in Boston. WhippleHill Communications is a company that started off more or less building websites for schools. As the Internet evolved, so did WhippleHill’s business model into a service one meeting schools’ online communication needs. WhippleHill targets independent high schools and is a for-profit. However, like a lot of companies who offer services around next generation web technologies, they promote open content and tools for their clients. They also host an annual user conference where they invite cutting edge initiatives to lead sessions on new media and technologies pertinent to the changing world. ccLearn had the opportunity to lead one of these sessions entitled, “Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources: How the world is changing and what you need to know to keep up” targeted mainly at education around CC and copyright for high school students.

The slide show is up under CC BY (except otherwise noted). We would like to acknowledge Jessica Coates’ slide show “Creative Commons in the Classroom” from which we co-opted some great slides!

Thanks again to WhippleHill and its President, Travis Warren, for the strong support!

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