This description was written while I was exploring Dadamac Foundation and U.Lab and the principles of presencing – see Dadamac, U.Lab and principles of presencing 1 and 2
Principle 1 – Energy follows attention.
I decided to review where my attention has been in the years leading up to Dadamac Foundation and 2016 (starting in 2000). I wondered about the relationship between attention and energy, knowing well that my focus of attention has been influenced by the people I have connected with and the energy they have brought. Although I left out far more than I included this turned into a long page so I’m adding a contents list of the subheadings
- Introduction: Learning-and-doing
- The start – OOCD 2000+
- Fantsuam Foundation
- A mutually supportive network – Cawdnet
- Teachers Talking
- Cawdnet Campus
- People’s Open Access Education Initiative
- Minciu Sodas, the Internet and disruption in education
- Dadamac Foundation
- Dadamac Connect
- Dadamac Foundation related to U.Lab
1 – Introduction: Learning-and-doing
My involvement in Dadamac Foundation happened through practical involvement with two projects in Nigeria, and my related involvement with online networks and communities of interest and practice. This has made for an unusual combination of learning-and-doing. It has been a rich, life-enhancing, learning experience. My involvement is “amateur” rather than “professional” i.e. it has never been my paid work.
The “amateur” status has given me unusual freedoms as well as restraints. It’s not that I chose to be an “amateur” in the field of “International Development”, nor is it that I don’t need money, but my UK-Africa involvement simply happened and was nothing to do with earning my living. Despite that I think of it as “my real work” although financially it has had a negative impact (because of the costs I’ve had to cover and the way “my real work” has reduced the time I’ve had available for my “paid work”). This “real work” has been deeply interesting and richly rewarding for me in non-material ways. In some circles what I call my “real work” would be called “Work” (with a capital “W”) and what I call “paid work” would be called a “job” or “work” (with a lower case “w”).
2 – The start – OOCD 2000+
In 2000 the energy and vision of Peter Adetunji Oyawale attracted me to his project, which was Oke-Ogun Community Development Agenda 2000 Plus (also known as OOCD 2000+). My involvement was originally in London, but Peter’s untimely death led me to take an expanded role, which included working holidays in Nigeria with OOCD 2000+ (later known as OCDN – the Oke-Ogun Community Development Network).
3 – Fantsuam Foundation
In 2001 or 2002 when I was looking on the Internet for sources of advice and support for OOCD 2000+ I discovered Fantsuam Foundation (FF). Most leads that I found on the Internet led nowhere, but FF was different. Like OOCD 2000+, FF was a Nigerian project initiated in the UK by a Nigerian, John Dada, and his friends. It was visible online because it had been awarded the Hafkin Prize. When I emailed FF I was welcomed and encouraged. That was how I first connected with FF and started communicating with John Dada, who by then was back in Nigeria.
4 – A mutually supportive network – Cawdnet
A collaboration began between OODC 2000+ and FF because of my online connections with them both.
Both projects were concerned with a variety of community development initiatives. OOCD 2000+ gained energy and wisdom from links with FF, which was a larger and longer established organisation. OOCD 2000+ was much smaller but was also doing innovative work, which was of interest to FF. There were unusual features and benefits because of my involvement from London. There I could represent the interests of the projects by attending events, and, probably more importantly, I could access the Internet cheaply and easily to do research and to network on behalf of the projects.
Another project in Oke-Ogun, led by Mrs Victoria Adetona also got involved. This meant that in Nigeria we had a loose network of people (too many to name here) who were connected with three different projects. In the UK I was helped mainly by Lorraine Duff, an ex-nurse, and generous volunteer. She put her energy into the projects for many years and added greatly to what we were able to give attention to and what we could achieve. Other people, especially friends from the local computer club, also influenced what could be done.
The more that various people in the network did things together the clumsier it became to list the individual names and to explain how we fitted together, so it became helpful to have some kind of collective name for our network. We called it Cawdnet.
It was called Cawdnet because in Peter’s long term plan, OOCD 2000+ was to be a pilot project, under the umbrella of the Committee for African Welfare and Development (CAWD). CAWD was an organisation which had folded after Peter’s death. When our tiny version of his plan for OOCD 2000+ was networking with others beyond the boundary of the pilot project it seemed a fitting tribute to call this expanding network “Cawdnet”.
5 – Teachers Talking
Teachers Talking (TT) was a Cawdnet project for teachers around Fantsuam (teaching was my profession). I designed and presented TT in response to a request from John Dada (FF programme director and founder) in 2004. It was a course to introduce teachers to ICT. Given my deep previous involvement in the use of computers in education in the UK, and my knowledge of the realities of schools in rural Nigeria I was determined to offer something that would be relevant. In preparation I turned to online networks where I was already connected to people who were energetically involved in relevant research and practical work.
The final course involved people in the UK, and an online group scattered around the globe (see – Teachers Talking). In many ways TT was where I first “learned my trade” regarding online collaboration and where I started to gain insights about local-global realities and unexpected aspects of our connected world. From 2004-2008 much of my attention was related to TT and its spin-offs.
6 – Cawdnet Campus
As part of Teachers Talking Lorraine and I experimented with Moodle, and with other online platforms, aided by various generous techies in our network.
Cawdnet Campus was the name we gave to our implementation of Moodle,. Moodle is an open source platform used by educational institutions including the Open University.
7 – People’s Open Access Education Initiative
By 2007 Lorraine was directing most of her attention and energy to a health education project that brought together Professor Richard Heller, John Dada, Omo Oaiya and others in Cawdnet, and gave rise to the People’s Open Access Education Initiative: Peoples-uni
8 – Dadamac.net
In 2007 Nikki Fishman joined me and that enabled various additional UK-Africa collaborations and experiments between the UK and at Fantsuam between 2007 and 2012. I had great respect and admiration for John and FF General Secretary Kazanka Comfort, and wanted to help them and others in the Fantsuam Foundation team in whatever ways I could. The name Dadamac showed that, although I was aware that “John and FF spoke largely with the same heart and voice”, I didn’t know enough about the administrative details of FF to speak for the organisation as confidently as I could speak for John.
John, Nikki, Comfort and I were collaborating at the heart of an informal network that existed online and around Fantsuam.
Evidence of Nikki’s work at this time is on the Dadamac.net website. She enabled much of the work in the collaborations and became the voice of FF through a blog based on weekly UK-Nigeria Dadamac online meetings.
9 – Minciu Sodas, the Internet and disruption in education
Of all the online networks that have attracted my attention since I started to work online, the one with the deepest influence was Minciu Sodas (Lithuanian for “Orchard of Thoughts”) created and led with great energy and vision by Andrius Kulikauskas. Andrius supported my interest in how the Internet affects our roles as teachers and learners. It is a question that attracts my interest on several levels. It is relevant to:
- The work I was doing with teachers at FF about using computers (including the Internet) in education
- The UK-Africa collaborative work Nikki and I were facilitating online, which involved considerable cross-cultural learning-from-each-other.
- The personal interest that I’d had in the impact of computers on the roles of teachers and learners since my work with microcomputers with infants in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
- John Dada’s interest in teaching and training at FF and in ways of sharing more widely what was being learnt there: as he said “We learn twice at FF, once by learning and once by sharing what we learn”
- My own continuous learning journey.
I wrote a chapter about this called Online Learning in Virtual Academia in Teaching and Learning Online: New Models of Learning for a Connected World, Volume 2
Andrius’ influence is evident on many levels including:
- The contacts in my networks
- My experience of online communities
- My use of online chat rooms
- The emergence of the First Thursday Group
- My interests in working openly, the Commons, knowledge sharing, P2P Foundation, etc
10 – Dadamac Foundation
Dadamac Foundation, the registered charity associated with our UK-Africa collaborative work, would never have existed without Nikki. There was an earlier charity called CAWD, (Charity for African Welfare and Development) related to Peter Oyawale’s work. I was a committee member along with Peter’s widow Agnita Oyawale and Lorraine Duff. CAWD became inactive after the work of OOCD, and its Information Centre in Ago-Are, was absorbed into an IITA project, so we were ready to resign and close the charity. Nikki saw that it could be relevant to the Dadamac UK-Africa collaborations, and with the agreement of Lorraine and Agnita CAWD was renamed Dadamac Foundation, with Nikki Fishman and Janet Whitehouse taking over from Lorraine and Agnita.
Like CAWD before it Dadamac Foundation had no fundraiser, and came into use spasmodically when someone in the Dadamac Network was doing relevant fundraising. In 2013 the committee, like the CAWD committee before it, considered closing the charity, but decided to do a review of its value and purpose first. The result was a new clarity and emphasis:
- Separate website for Dadamac Foundation (which had previously been hidden within Dadamac.net)
- Launch event for the “new” Dadamac Foundation in January 2015, with Professor Tim Unwin as the keynote speaker.
- Greater emphasis on previous collaborative work as a protoype of an alternative approach to International Development.
- November event see – Dadamac Foundation – The Power of True Stories
11 – Dadamac Connect
Dadamac Connect emerged from the same roots as Dadamac Foundation – but with more of an emphasis on ideas. The learning that I’ve gained since 2000 through my UK-Africa collaborations, the experiences of online communities, and the connections with innovative people all have wider relevance.
12 – Dadamac Foundation related to U-Lab
My ‘Work” since 2000 has always been a mixture of theory and practice, learning and doing, mind and matter. That is why Dadamac Foundation is here on Dadamac Connect as a practical “field study”r elated to U.Lab. It is the “walking the talk” element of what I do. In Dadamac Foundation I can explore in practice what I’m learning in U.Lab and elsewhere about the unfolding future and how we can all play our parts.