OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES (OER) REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON BASIC WIKI EDITING SKILLS FOR TEACHERS AND EDUCATORS AS PART OF THE FLOSS4Edu PROJECT - JANUARY 22-26, 2007
The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) organised a five (5) days regional workshop on the use of Basic Wiki Editing Skills for Teachers and Educators as part of the FLOSS4Edu project, held at the University of Education- Winneba- Ghana with the following Objectives:
- Carry out a capacity building initiative associated with the FLOSS4Edu initiative with the aim of converting content in Adult Education Maths and English lessons into WikiEducator format using a team of West African Educators trained in basic skills of Wiki Editing;
- Make Content created in (1) above available within the WikiEducator Website www.wikieducator.org; and
- Establish a West African Chapter of the FLOSS4Edu Initiative to continue participating on efforts geared towards the creation of Free and Open Educational Content.
The workshop was attended by Thirty Five participants (See Appendix 1 for a list of participants) grouped as follows:
- 5 from Nursing and other Health Institutions from within Ghana
- 13 Educational Practioners from the University of Winneba Ghana
- 5 Participants from the Ghana Police
- 12 International delegates from various educational institutions in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Gambia.
The practical part of the workshop, involving training in Wiki Editing skills, started on the 24th of January with a introduction by the COL Consultant (Mr. Nicholas Kimolo) on the principles behind the establishment of the WikiEducator and the FLOSS4Edu project. This was followed by an introductory session on the benefits that Teachers can derive from the use of Wiki based technologies including the main of objective of interoperability and collaborative authoring of content. The Facilitator then focused on the practical use of WikiEducator. Each of the participants had access to a computer with very good internet connectivity and all participants registered on the WikiEducator website. Since the internet connectivity was very good and fast, the facilitator decided to have the participants work directly on the WikiEducator website thus all activities were directly performed on the internet. The following lessons were covered on the first day:
- Introduction to Wiki Technologies, their advantages and disadvantages;
- How to register and create account in the www.wikiEducator.org website;
- How to edit a format text within Wiki;
- How to create internal links in Wiki; and
- Uploading images in media Wiki
The second day started well with a continuation of the Wikieducator training. The Facilitator introduced the participants to the following:
- How to communicate on the wiki and to using the discussions and talk features on WikiEducator;
- How to manage collaborative editing with the ability to fall back to earlier edited wiki version and inherent WikiEducator features that prevail against content vandalism; and
- Creation of External links within WikiEducator
Upon completion of the above lessons the participants embarked on the process of converting actual educational content and making it available on wiki format within WikiEducator. The Participants were grouped into two groups (Mathematics and English contents conversion groups).This was the most challenging part of the workshop but the participants performed exceptionally well. By the end of the day, all the participants had uploaded a single unit of either English or Maths content onto Wikieducator and attempted to perform basic wiki editing. This went on till the end of the second day.
The last and final day focused on working and refining the already uploaded content on WikiEducator. Participants learned about iDevices and templates and how they relate to creating pedagogically correct learning content. Each of the participants worked on their sections of the content. More exercises were performed on wiki formatting including how to upload media content on the WikiEducator and to integrate images to existing wiki content. This went on till 4:00pm when the closing ceremony was held and the workshop was closed after a wonderful cocktail facilitated by the Home Economics Department.
During discussions held during the training workshop, participants were introduced to the Learn4Content Initiative and how it relates to the overall objectives of the FLOSS4Edu Initiative. The workshop was a classical example of the output of the Learn4Content idea of learners paying through producing content for training in WikiEducator Content Development. The participants noted that they have acquired the skills sufficient for them to start working on content development in the area of their expertise. Each of the participants was asked to produce content in the area of their expertise and submit it to WikiEducator or the FLOSS4Edu mailing list before the 28th of February, 2007 in Soft copy. Plans to hold a follow-up workshop were communicated to the participants and they agreed that they should develop their own raw content that can be easily wikified. More specifically the following were the outcomes of this workshop:
- The participants agreed to participate in the Learn4Content Initiatives and to start mobilizing content developers in their respective institutions in preparation for this;
- To produce content (even in raw format) and upload it in the Wiki Educator website in preparation for a follow-up workshop. This has to be done before the 28th of February, 2007;
- The production of a single lesson in Maths and English on the WikiEducator from content donated to WikiEducator. This work can be seen on Maths and English web pages within WikiEducator; and
- The launch of the first West African FLOSS4Edu Chapter under the co-ordination of Mr. Prebble Kafui from the University of Education-Winneba, Ghana. Mr. Kafui will co-ordinate with Mr. Nicholas Kimolo from the East African Region to achieve the objectives and vision of the FLOSS4Edu Initiative. All participants agreed to be members of the FLOSS4Edu Initiative and provided their emails for inclusion in the FLOSS4Edu Mailing Lists.
The workshop was very successful and all the workshop objectives were achieved. This can be attributed to the following:
- Proper logistical preparations even though the group was a large (thirty five participants) and the preparation time was short;
- Support from Senior University of Winneba Management including the Vice Chancellor, who officially launched the workshop
- Motivated and eager to learn participants who were looking for specific knowledge of how they can publish their already existing content into digital and electronic formats
- Exceptionally good internet connectivity that enabled the participants to work directly on the WikiEducator website. Though there was a back-up mediawiki installation, this was not used as internet connectivity and power was available through out the training session.
From the success of this workshop, it was noted that, though the participant numbers were large (35 participants) for a single facilitator, good progress was made as WikiEducator content production processes are easy to learn and already meet most of educators’ requirements in terms of content production. The WikiEducator website is easy to work with and though most or all of the participants had little computer background not to mention wiki skills, they were able to catch up fast and convert existing content into Wiki within a very short period (Three days). Some of the lessons learned from this workshop are:
- Though the lack of good internet connectivity can be mitigated with the installation of back-up media-wiki installations, working directly in the WikiEducator website was very encouraging to the participants especially when the participants were aware that their work is accessible to many people on the internet. This fact made the participants to pay more attention to their respective content areas as they were aware that people “out there” are watching the content. It is recommended that whenever possible, for a workshop of this nature an institution that can dedicate good bandwidth to the workshop should be chosen.
- This was a hands-on workshop emphasis carrying out practical work on the WikiEducator site. Though previous workshops have been practical also, the one thing that this workshop did differently was the fact that the participants were pushed to deliver something tangible as a result of the workshop. The overall objectives of the workshop were communicated to be to deliver two lessons on wiki educator. With this target, the group was focussed on achieving this tangible deliverable. The effect of this is that, the participants were proud of their achievement and though that initially they may have felt that this was not a possible target, they could relate to what they have created leading many to confirm that they will show what they have done to their colleagues in their respective institutions. It is recommended that all future workshops have tangible deliverables inline with the Learn4Content project principles
- The promise of a possible follow-up workshop was also quite encouraging to the participants. The follow-up workshop will provide an opportunity to the participants to have some time to prepare and digitalise their content then come back and upload their own content designed their area of expertise. This will set the participants on a firm course in terms of developing their own content and helping others to develop and publish their content in WikiEducator. It is recommended that whenever possible to have a follow-up workshop say, one (1) month after the original workshop where the participants work on the actual digitalisation of their own content in the area of their expertise.
- Download Workshop List of Participants