On Friday I gave a presentation about OppiaMobile to the TelSpain conference in Madrid. At the conference I meet several colleagues from projects and work I was doing at the Open Uni over 5 or 6 years ago, so was great to meet them again. My presentation was video recorded, so will post up a link to the full video once it is available.
Friday and Saturday next week (23 & 24th Sept) is the second BarCamp Ethiopia. Following the success of last years event (see my posts here and here), the event is being run again at EiABC in Addis.
More info about the BarCamp can be found on the blog and wiki pages.
I’m travelling over to got to the conference and going to give a presentation about the work we have been doing recently on using smartphones for data collection and reporting to improve maternal healthcare in the rural areas of Ethiopia, specifically working with the Health Extension Workers. Will post the presentation up soon!
Giraffes at Chaminuka Game Reserve
Another really good day at the conference, most of the presentations and discussions I attended today revolved around the use of open source software. There are some particular issues with using open source software in Africa, for example the fact that although there is huge amount of help available to support people when trying to implement software, much of the help and documentation is online only – which can make it difficult to access. In one of the presentations some of the audience were still a little sceptical about how you can get something for free – surely there is a catch?
Late in the afternoon, I gave my presentation about the Digital Campus project. All went well and I was really pleased with the response and how many people had questions about the project. I finally met more people from Ethiopia, the Head of ICT from Jimma University and the Curriculum Expert and Pedagogical Editor from the Ethiopia Civil Service College in Addis. I’ve also been approached about setting up some study/tutor partnerships with universities in UK and Canada, so the tutors and students in Mekelle can pair up with tutors and students abroad to share teaching and learning experiences.
Overall the conference has been well worth attending, it’s the first conference I’ve been to for a long time and differs somewhat from the much more technical and programming focussed conferences and workshops I used to attend whilst at the OU. Now need to make sure I get another presentation accepted for the eLearning Africa 2011 in Tanzania.
Saturday was a day free for me, so after being at the conference much of the week, I headed out to a game reserve (Chaminuka) about 30km from Lusaka and had a relaxing day there, by coincidence I met several other people there who had also attended the conference – but we managed to avoid talking too much work.
Auditorium at the Mulungushi Conference Centre
After 24 hours travel (London – Addis – Harare – Lusaka), yesterday afternoon I arrived in Lusaka, Zambia for the eLearning Africa conference, where I’ll be presenting the Digital Campus project later this week. The conference starts properly tomorrow and today I attended one of the pre-conference workshops, on policies for successful elearning programmes.
My impressions so far have been very good, having Ethiopia as the only other sub-Saharan Africa country that I’ve visited, Lusaka couldn’t be more different to Addis, everything appears much more up together and organised. The roads and traffic seem far less chaotic, lined with advertisements for various mobile operators. We were even given free sim cards when we were waiting for our baggage – such a contrast to Ethiopia when getting a sim card is quite a tedious process and certainly not cheap.
The conference is huge, but show how small the world is when one of the first people I met here is a PhD student at the OU Business School. I’m going to have a tricky job of deciding which presentations to go to, as there are 10 parallel sessions. The contrast with Ethiopia is made even more pronounced talking to some of the other participants from other African countries where they seem to be much further down the road than Ethiopia in terms of elearning implementation and technologies.
Assuming the wireless stays up and running well I hope I’ll be blogging regularly. For anyone reading this who is at the conference, my presentation is on Friday afternoon (track 56A1).