Reflecting on eLearning Africa 2010 in Luska, Zambia - Day 2

Posted by Michael Paskevicius | 4 Jun, 2010

Day 2 - Intellectual Property Rights in Education

Vitalicy Chifwepa, University of Zambia, Zambia
Teresa Hackett, Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL.net), Italy
Benson Njobvu, University of Zambia, Zambia
Andreia Inamorato dos Santos, Open Learning Network, The Open University, UK

Intellectual property considerations in education are a tricky topic as it seems to me that educational institutions are quiet relaxed about violating copyright as long as it is for educational purposes. The reality is that we actually have many alternatives to copywritten materials which we can draw from as educators. When academics enter the realm of open educational resources, we have to be careful about using and sharing copywritten materials within our own works.

The problem with copyright law is that most of the foundations date back to some 300 years ago, a time when digital materials did not exist. Copyright was originally intended to encourage and support learning by giving the copyright creator the legal protection to exploit their work and allowing others access to copywritten works to encourage research and innovation. The difference in the modern day is the vast difference between the traditional archive of materials; books in libraries, to the archive that exists today; the internet and digital materials shared in all forms, books, videos, text, imagery.

Fortunately there are people actively engaging in developing copyright policies to be more relevant and fair by building in exceptions and limitations that meet the needs of the digital age. National copyright solutions are not suitable in a digital world when digital materials can cross borders so easily. There was a distinct call for educators to impact global policy on copyright - I would like to echo that statement. 

 

Corporate Learning

Mads Bo-Kristensen, Videnscenter for Integration, Denmark
Mehdi Tounsi, Gatlin International LLC, UK
Karyn Romeis, Learning Anorak Ltd, UK

This session was engaging and addressed the issue of corporate learning, more specifically; how do we teach people what they need to know, now, so that they can get on with their work.  I attended to see what corportations are doing to address their knowledge needs, as I assumed these would need to be practical and proven methods driven by the bottom line.  

A presentation was given on the use of the mobile device to deliver context sensitive instruction to language learners. This can be done using QR codes, a barcode like image. When the code is photographed using a mobile phone the user is directed to a webpage which can contain more information about the object or context in which the code resides.

The last presentation delivered by Karyn Romeis was mainly about how we learn and was based primarily on the theory of connectivism offered by George Siemens. When we need to know something in our lives, what do we most often do? We ask a friend, we refer to our networks - our workplace, our family and friends, or more often nowadays we ask Google (or Aardvark-which I am using more and more lately!)

Karyn reminded us of the many tools we can employ to query our networks online and how we can use these tools to externalizse and share knowledge. She gave a useful analogy about learning; aparently television was only introduced in South Africa in 1976 (amazing!). When it was introduced it was not the old refrigerator sized sets that the Americans first invented, it was the latest technology for the time. The idea here was to look at what others are doing and implement the best practice.  So if no eLearning exists within your institution or orgnization you would not start with outdated technologies, of course you would start with the latest proven methods.  You would not trust your dentist with outdated tools, would you?

 

The Value of Publishing Student-Generated Digital Learning Materials

Bob Hofman, Global Teenager Project, The Netherlands
Lee Muzala, Global Teenager Project, Zambia
Olaf Erz, International Institute for Communication and Development, The Netherlands

This session was about the Global Teenager Project which is an international initiative which coordinates learning circles between students in the developed and developing world. Collectively the students research topics and create materials to reflect what they have learned. The learning circles are facilitated by wiki's and discussion forums. In a way it reminded me of penpal projects that we used to do in school, but now enhanced by new technologies.

The discussion in this session quickly shifted from the value of student generated content to teacher development. Some voices expressed a need to retain the teacher as content provider and ICT leader. Some even expressed a feeling of 'power' in being a teacher. I found this remarkable as the enabling and contributory nature of new technologies actually threatens this power. Perhaps this is why ICT uptake has been slow?

I was hoping to discuss some of the learning theory behind the development of student content and what the value is to the learner. In a sense the students are developing online portfolios of their work and sharing them openly. As all of the resources are shared openly as open educational resources it seems like an excellent opportunity to enable students to use open content and showcase how it can be used and re-shared.