high school workshops

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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Back to School: Open Courseware as a transition to college

Jane Park, September 2nd, 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.

One aspect of open courseware* is its draw for potential students who are deciding where to spend their parents’ or their own hard-earned dollars in obtaining a higher education. The fact is unsurprising, as we saw in 2007, with MIT OCW reporting that “One in four current MIT students who knew of OCW prior to choosing MIT [indicated] the site was a significant influence on their school choice.”

However, beyond free advertising for its school, certain open courseware programs have begun to evolve past the open licensing status of their courses. As the global learning commons of OCW is growing, so are the local learning contexts of open courseware, as more colleges realize the benefit of working with high schools in their areas to prepare, and perhaps to propel, their youth into higher education.

Last month, the University of Massachusetts Boston was awarded a $60,000 grant by the Boston Foundation, with the specific aim of better preparing Boston public high school students for college level courses. The grant will fund workshops for teachers, training them on how to use open courseware to educate their students at gradually accelerated levels. Similar to MIT OCW’s Highlights for High School initiative, these workshops promote high school teacher and student use of open educational resources.

However, I imagine it also going one step further. In providing training for teachers on the use of open educational resources (OER), teachers will not be simply accessing OCW resources on the web. They will learn how to use OER according to its license status, and realize that the commons of open educational resources is vast and global, open to be adapted, derived, and remixed with other OER on the Internet. The Boston grant would enable teachers to see open courseware as part of a larger world of open materials and communities, rather than as simply an institution.

We hope that many other universities and colleges offering OCW will follow this same trend, localizing their university’s offerings at the same time that they are globalizing them via CC licenses. Especially, initiatives like Academic Earth, a site that pools a number of OCW in high definition video, could really run with this idea of contextualization for teachers and students, educating them on the new communities that are opened to them via something as simple as the licensing status of a resource.

*Traditionally, open courseware are university or college courses that are freely accessible online, usually via an open license (the most commonly used license for OCW is CC BY-NC-SA), consisting of lectures and other multimedia, core content, supplemental materials, or tools to aid learning. Nowadays, open courseware sans an open license that allows derivatives, though free, are not considered open, as the ability to adapt the work to global and local contexts via translations and cultural references has become integral to the spirit of OCW.


A summary in Spanish:

De regreso al colegio: Open Courseware como una transición a la educación superior. http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/17411

En esta entrada Park indica como en este momento los Open Courseware (repositorios de cursos virtuales que se publican para acceso abierto en Internet, como el famoso MIT OCW http://ocw.mit.edu/) han provocado un interesante efecto de publicidad para las universidades americanas que hoy reconocen como cada vez más de los nuevos estudiantes consideran que conocer el material docente de la universidad en la que esperan estudiar ha influido en su toma de decisión y cómo este efecto ha hecho que las universidades americanas estén creando un puente entre la educación superior y media a través de los cursos en estos repositorios abiertos.

Park señala que los cursos se han convertido en material para los docentes de educación media que les permiten más y mejores recursos para preparar los estudiantes para su experiencia universitaria. Sin embargo, Park hace un llamado a la necesidad de llamar la atención y preparar a los docentes para ir más allá de la simple reutilización pasiva de materiales de los cursos y pasen a ser actores de la recreación de estos materiales localizándolos y ajustándolos a sus circunstancias particulares.

Park espera que donaciones como la de la Fundación Boston a la Universidad de Massachussets, que tiene como finalidad preparar a los graduados de la escuela para enfrentar los cursos de educación superior, sirvan de promotor para contextualizar a los docentes y estudiantes en las nuevas comunidades abiertas a ellos a través de herramientas tan sencillas como la licencia que se asocia con un recurso, de modo que puedan ver estos cursos como iniciativas de comunidades abiertas globales más allá de la institución que los hospeda.

La ruta que presenta Park puede servir de inspiración para nuestros países y sus iniciativas nacionales como inspiración para los actores del sector.

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