These initiatives have been chosen to illustrate the development of Dadamac Foundation from its early days as an informal collaboration to the present. A wide range of people have been involved. For simplicity's sake they are referred to as "the Dadamac Community".
Our most valuable work doesn't show on a financial balance sheet, but does appear in the story below. These are things like introducing people, helping them to work together, enabling them to learn from each other - all hard to measure things that are to do with information and knowledge. Most of our work to date has been done by a few volunteers paying their own expenses (and where necessary we have also paid for professional help - such as technical support - from our own pockets).
If you think of our work to date as proof of concept then we have been very successful. We have a track record and people want us to do more, but we are already overstretched. This means that we either need to reduce what we are doing or we need to attract more support (advice, volunteers and finance) to help us more to a new level. Moving to an new level must be a main initiative for this year.
Teachers Talking (TT) is the initiative that started us on the road to creating Dadamac Foundation (more about TT)
TT attracted a wide range of people, working voluntarily, and contributing extremely valuable expertise. Their input meant that TT had a rich collection of resources and used many different ICT tools (ICT= Information and Communication Technology).
Working on TT, over several years, provided valuable practical knowledge within the Dadamac Community about using ICT and about collaborating online. It also taught the core goup lessons about building online communities, and the challenges of achieving a shared view of "how things are" when people in an online group come from very different cultures.
Following TT we reached out to some other people in UK who could benefit from our ways of communicating with rural Nigeria.
We were able to help Professor Richard Heller with the early development of the PeoplesUni.org project, including the first two pilot courses. Our experience of UK-Nigeria online collaboration, and our practical work with Moodle during TT contributed to the success of the project. (More about PeoplesUni.org project)
The eco-dome project with Marcus Simmons was another chance to put to good use our expertise in UK-Africa collaboration. It was an excellent example of the value of effective two-way communication at the pre-visit planning stage. Thanks to our extensive and detailed online preparation for Marcus' visit he was able to start his practical work on the very same day that he arrived in Nigeria. (More about the eco-dome)
Research and Practice
This is a story of failure so far - but is included because we care about it. One of the dreams of Dadamac Foundation is to improve the links between practitioners and academics. The most natural connecting points for us seem to be ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development) and ICT4Ed (ICT for Education) but there are also other possible research areas. We recognise that it's easy for us to find the work of academics online (and see the relationship to our work). However it's harder for them to see our work and less obvious to them how participation with us might serve their objectives. So far we have failed to develop any formal links with relvant universtiy departments, but we do connect with the ICT4D community online and in London, and we connect informally with some people in the distance-learning community. We would welcome opportunities to collaborate on research projects.
Plastic recyling feasibility study
The plastic recyling feasibility study is a different kind of research and happened because we made some introductions, and then we enabled information to flow. With our help Ron Dennis in London was able to submit a funding bid to Comic Relief. Equipment in this study was designed by his engineering students at London University, and they needed somewhere to take the idea forward in practice. In the bid Ron Dennis was able to use detailed, practical, local information from Nigeria about possible implementation of his project. The funding bid was successful and the feasibility study took place through Fantsuam Foundation.
In the Dadamac Community we care about online visibility and information sharing. Dadamac.net runs on Drupal and is not a traditional website, because it serves various other purposes too. It is:
- A working-space for the Dadamac community which other people can also dip into
- An administration experiment, using "permissions" to manage information within and between our working groups.
- An experimental area for exploring our emerging organisational structures, our information flows, and the development of our shared online cultural identity.
- A place to tell the unfolding stories of Fantsuam Foundation, Dadamac Foundation and other related organisations, networks and people.
- An incubation area for various initiatives.
Telling the Fantsuam Foundation story
Our approach to telling the story of Fantsuam Foundation (FF) has proved its worth on various occasions. John uses information from www.dadamac.net when he's applying for funding, and also directs people to the site. He gives credit to Dadamac for several successful funding bids by Fantsuam Foundation.
From 2008-2012 the unfolding story of Fantsuam Foundation was told through Nikki's blogs which fed into "projects" pages. Information from Fantsuam Foundation came through our weekly Dadamac UK-Nigeria meetings. Because these meetings were typed, not spoken, they always created a written record which provided the raw material for the blogs.
The FF website - a distance learning experiment
Towards the end of 2012 Fantsuam Foundation needed to update its website. Due to staff losses during the post-election turmoil, there was no-one with relevant knowledge or skills or passwords to do the update. We decided to tackle it as a Dadamac UK-Nigeria online-learning initiative. We have taken the UK experience with www.dadamac.net and used that as a basis for creating the new www.fantsuam.net website. Andy Broomfield created the "skeleton" of the site and then it became a learning-by-doing project with typed skype sessions linking UK and FF to build skills in constructing and adding content. Given Fantsuam's need for a site, its many initiatives, and the time it will take to complete the work we have decided to publish the site while we are doing it as a visible distance learning experiment.
Dadamac Days and First Thursdays
Other regular online meetings of the Dadamac Community are Dadamac Day (an annual celebration) and First Thursdays (a monthly information exchange). First Thursdays generates a written archive, often covering very practical topics, with information-sharing from people working in different countries. It would be useful to extract the key points after each meeting , to share them more widely. We coud build on the strategies we developed for capturing information from the weekly Dadamac meetings. This would mean that the First Thursday archives would build into a useful, searchable resource of practical information and advice. This is something we hope to do when we have more resources (either volunteers or money to pay for help).
Fast Tractor was a fund-raising project - it was an for urgent need and was an exciting race against the clock. Dadamac Foundation has served as an umbrella organisation for various fundraising intiatives over the years, but usually on a smaller scale, such as one person doing a single fundraising event.
This is an incomplete list of initiatives, but nontheless these descriptions could serve a useful purpose if they are shared now as they are. They could even encourage you to join us in some way.
If we are successful in taking Dadamac Foundation to a new level this year, then maybe there will be someone to write our story better.
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