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Story telling is an art that many of us are exploring in one way and another. We all know the power of good stories well told. Many of us are struggling to find effective ways to communicate messages that are both simple and complicated. We have new tools for communication. What can we learn from the ancient art of storytelling?

My connection

I’m struggling with a mass of interconnected ideas and activities that all tie together but are far too complicated to explain in one go.  I need to learn from storytellers so that I can see how I extract what matters and how I share it.

Useful links

Here’s a quick update on some story-telling connections that you’d have come across if you were looking over my shoulder in the last few days.

  • Dougald Hine and Dark Mountain – Book 7 is just out and the deadline for contributions to Book 8 is end of May – inspirational ref modern myth making, realities of our predicament, and finding ways through.
  • Leon Conrad and the Academy of Oratory – our paths recently recrossed and he’s been informally teaching me some of the basics of storytelling during a couple of conversations. Tantalising.
  • Pattern language – revisiting that “discipline” with a Dil – a man of many skills and wide interests who I recently met through Silicon Triangle Meetups.
  • Hub Talks: Using the Power of Storytelling to Build Partnerships – details (I hope it may be repeated)
  • Creating digital stories & social reporting – an event I can’t get to but wish I could –
    • As part of a series of activities for the Social Enterprise Festival in Greenwich, London (11-15 May 2015) GlobalNet21 together with the University of Greenwich will be running a workshop for students and members of the public to develop basic skills to deliver digital stories and social reports.Many people are now looking at new methods like reports and stories to engage people, create awareness and also provide qualitative feedback that can inform decision making and policy. In other words they are looking at social impact. more

I’d love to combine what I could learn about digital stories,  social reports and stories to build partnerships with what I could learn via Leon about structuring and telling stories.

Why I need to be able to tell stories

I have many stories that I want to be able to tell, before I get too old to tell them, so that other people can take anything of value, and shape it in their own ways.

I want to share what I have developed and learned during fifteen years of innovative UK-Africa collaborations enabled by ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). I want to share stories that are based on reality and seldom told, because they are the stories of people who are voiceless, or nearly so. They are the stories of people who are still “the wrong side of the digital divide”. I want to help their stories to be told to balance out the voices of those on the “rich and overly powerful side of the digital divide”. I’m tired of hearing from those rich voices telling me and others about what is happening on the ground, when I know those stories don’t match the experiences and realities of my friends who live and work on the ground cannot get involved to tell their reality-based versions of the stories.

I also want to share what I have learned through my involvement in the unfolding of ICT in Education. I have been involved on and off since the 1970s when the first microcomputers were making an appearance – loaded with no more than an operating system. Back then I was involved with other innovative teachers who were early adopters doing amazing, creative, exploratory work. We did it  in own time, often covering our own expenses, sometimes providing our own micro-computers. When external resources came those resources came from the Department of Trade and Industry not from the Ministry of Education.

From where I saw it the political will behind Computers in Schools in the 1970s and 1980s related to making the “education market” serve the needs of the computer industry. That skewed the emphasis and has blighted and distorted all subsequent work. If development of computers in education had continued to be driven primarily by an educational vision then it would have enabled the computer industry to work with educators to serve the genuine needs of people through developing appropriate, effective and affordable systems for education and training. That voice of education has always struggled to be sufficiently heard.

For nearly fifty years I have seen the same story played out with only minor variations. The driver is the technology. The voices of the educators are comparatively unheard. In country after country huge investments are made with an emphasis on the technology rather than the teachers.

Projects are funded. Reports are written. Researchers write thesis after thesis about ICT4Ed interventions which have a similar pattern. People see bandwaggons and jump on them.  Some educators add it to their teaching despite never seeing any point in using it for their personal learning.

The main story told of ICT4Ed is one of success. A secondary story is told about unforeseen difficulties and valuable lessons learned, especially when implementing projects in Africa. The secondary story is  similar decade after decade, so it seems that people are failing to share these lessons effectively. Typically, almost invisible in the report, as a little “aside, is an acknowledgement that some useful insights came from teachers at the end of the project and that it might have been a good idea to have asked the teachers for their perspective earlier on. It is a tragedy, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. We need an alternative narrative.

Stories to tell and have other people help me to tell

These are stories that I believe could have beneficial outcomes if they were told well to the right audiences.

Stories about practical work I’m doing (on my own and with others) regarding UK-Africa connections. The work I do is work  which other people might love to do if only I could explain to them what it is – see Dadamac Foundation website. We need people to work with us but we aren’t good at telling the story of what we do and why it matters. If other people were doing the work of Dadamac Foundation and extending it then Dadamac Foundation would do more to achieve its mission. If that was happening then I could turn my energies to feed what I have learned through years of working with Dadamac Foundation into wider debat

  • The areas I know about are
    • ICT (Information and Communication Technologies)
    • Education and educational systems
    • Development –  local changemakers affecting community development in Africa, related issues in UK community development
    • ICT4D as “Information and Communication Technologies for Disruption (with new collaborative ways of doing things and really getting things done)”  instead of ICT4D as “Information and Communication Technologies for Development (with a top-down, business-as-usual models of International Development but including ICT hardware and software”)

I need help in working out which stories are worth telling, how I should tell them, and who would benefit from knowing them