Connecting my connections and Dadamac

I love London for the interesting people, projects and ideas I connect with. I'm organising an event here with John Dada - it's a face-to-face meetup between the African side of Dadamac and people in London. It's a rare opportunity for my UK contacts to discover more about John, me and Dadamac -  and to make connections with each other. Given my enthusiasm for community building, conversations and cross-cultural collaborations I'll be inviting a variety of people to attend.

The event

The event is Challenges and Opportunities for Innovation.  You will not need to be a paid up member of the GlobalNet21 group to attend - but you will need to register.

People I'm telling

I'm telling people about it for different reasons. Sometimes I'm telling a whole group, sometimes just one or two individuals within it. I know lots of the people in my list are very busy, but I think we'll get a good mixture. People I'm telling are from:

  1. GlobalNet21
  2. Impact Hub Westminster
  3. London University - Centre for Distance Education and London Knowledge Lab
  4. ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development) groups
  5. Everything Unplugged
  6. Collage-network
  7. Public Service Launchpad
  8. Civil Society Forum
  9. Others

Why this list?

If I explain the list it will throw light on some apparently unconnected connections. It will illustrate different aspects of what I do - something that I often struggle to explain except to say "It's to do with 21st century lifestyles, life-long-learning and livelihoods". I can also refer to parts of the list when I tell people about the event, then they'll better understand why it might be of interest, and even if they don't come along they can see how they fit in.

1 - GlobalNet21

The "Challenges and Opportunities for Innovation" event that i'm arranging is a GlobalNet21 (GN21) meetup.

Frances Sealey, the founder of GN21, explains:

GlobalNet21 is the leading forum in the UK for discussing the major issues in the 21st Century. We share a common concern for the sustainability of both our planet and the people on it. (See also GN21 website

Francis is continually developing GN21 and offering new formats for working within it. The meetup with John Dada is part of a new "learning and doing" group within GN21. I'm leading this group, which connects GN21 members with the work of changemakers in Africa. The changemakers are people who are working with their home communities in Africa, either while still living there, or at a distance. Some of these changemakers are already connected with Dadamac while others are new to me through GN21.

Dadamac and GN21 are both 21st century organisations. Dadamac is a 21st century organisation because it couldn't have existed at any time before the Internet.

I'm attracted to GlobalNet21 for its structures and its "community" as well as its content. I appreciate the way it combines face-to-face meetings with online activity. It's exploring the use of many digital platforms and strategies in addition to its varied face-to-face formats. Dadamac has to do the same. I'm hoping at some point to bring together some of the online activities of GN21 and some of the online activities of Dadamac, so that people in the two communities can get to know each other more directly. 

I also appreciate GN21 as an environment where I can learn. I'm a free-ranging, life-long-learner so I'm exploring GN21's potential as a learning environment for individuals and groups.

Learning, and enabling other people to learn, are core Dadamac activities online and face-to-face.

2 - Impact Hub Westminster

GlobalNet 21 has strong links with Impact Hub Westminster (HubW) and we are fortunate to be able to hold the event there.

The HubW website explains:

We set out to create spaces .... for meaningful encounters, exchange and inspiration, full of diverse people doing amazing things.

Our ambition -To become a global network of connected communities that enable collaborative ventures for a better world. At the HUB, people from every profession, background and culture are being united by one thing: the imagination and drive to pursue enterprising ideas for the world...

I'm drawn to HubW membership for aspects that complement my 21st century interests, such as "connected communities that enable collaborative ventures for a better world".

I've been a HubW member since 2012. My first connection with HubW was back in October 2011 when it first opened, and Dougald Hine organised a University Project weekend event there. In 2012, thanks to Indy Johar, Dadamac arranged a small "open conversation" with John Dada at HubW, which led to two, very different, UK-Nigeria collaborations.

I hope some people from Hub Westminster will come along to our event to learn more about our UK-Africa work, especially if they're interested in collaboration, communities, work with unemployed young people, use of the Internet or disruptive innovation.

3 - London University - Centre for Distance Education, London Knowledge Lab

Part of my own "free-range learning", or Continuing Professional Development (CPD), is to attend events at the Centre for Distance Education (CDE) and London Knowledge Lab (LKL).

I attend CDE lunch time seminars on distance education and the CDE's annual RIDE (Research Into Distance Education) event. The LKL events I've been to have been about ICT (Information and Communication Technology) for Development (ICT4D), ICT for Education (ICT4Ed), and pattern language (a subject which has come to influence much of my thinking).

The Centre for Distance Education is particularly relevant to me because I'm a qualified teacher, and my interest in distance education directs much of my work in Dadamac. (I'm a beneficiary of distance education as I did my degree through the Open University)

The project that Dadamac is now planning for tackling youth unemployment will have elements of distance-learning (for trainers as much as for trainees) - see Dadamac Knowledge Centre - Learning for Livelihoods. It  will build on previous projects including Teachers TaIking 2004-2008 which was a mix of face-to-face work and unusual distance-supported online learning  - see Overview of Teachers Talking. Details will depend on how well resourced we can make it, and that may depend on collaborations.

There are huge divides between my online UK-Africa work (in local, needs-led, non-formal education and training) and the work of established academia. However there is overlap too. Through my contacts at CDE I contributed to Teaching and Learning Online: New Models of Learning for a Connected World,. In it I wrote about my development studies using the Internet for non-formal "free-range learning" (which I've since discovered has many elements of "Heutagogy" - the topic of this year's first RIDE keynote).

I don't anticipate people from academia generally seeing any relevance in Dadamac's work with non-formal education, but I can think of a couple who might.

4 - Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) Groups.

I belong to several Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) Groups.

I see Dadamac as "walking the talk" of ICT4D. I don't understand why so many ICT4D projects are still top-down when ICT makes it so much easier to communicate with people at the grassroots. See - Dadamac - the Internet-enabled alternative to top-down development

I know most people are already involved in their own work, but our "Challenges and Opportunities for Innovation" event is a unique opportunity for any ICT4D researchers, or policy makers, who are interested in the realities on the ground, or who are interested in collaboration with practitioners.

5 - Everything Unplugged

Everthing Unplugged is not part of established academia and has a rather different take on "education".

A conversation I had at Unplugged with Tony Hall a couple of weeks ago is still challenging me, regarding the best approach for Dadamac's project with unemployed youths.

One of the other Unplugged regulars is Fred Garnett, who is a heutagogy (free-range learning) evangelist, and founder of WikiQuals. I've recently become a WikiQuals sqolar - to help my theoretical work.

I'll invite some Unplugged friends who are most interested in what I do, because I'd like them to know John.

6 - Collage-network

Nikki Fishman and I co-founded Collage-network while she was working with me in Dadamac. She has carried it forward (see Adieu for now!) while I've continued to focus on Dadamac.

Nikki will be coming along anyway for reasons of friendship, but this meetup is also relevant to her in Collage-network because of Collage's concerns with unemployment for all age groups, and Dadamac's interest in youth unemployment,

7 - Public Service Launchpad

I have recently become a Public Service Launchpad scholar at HubW (and so has Nikki).All the scholars are in the early stages of discovering overlapping interests and possible collaborations, so I'm hoping some fellow scholars will come along to the meetup to see if there is potential synergy.

I'm not expecting to find Launchpad scholars with an interest in Africa, but the problems Dadamac is tackling there are global as well as local.

8 - Civil Society Forum

I learn a lot through my involvement with the Civil Society Forum (SCF), partly because I don't have the same core competencies that I see in action through others in the group. In some ways I "dance on the edges" of CSF, just as I do with established academia and elsewhere. This "dancing on the edges" is one reason why I can help people who wouldn't normally connect with each other. I know some of the CSF people are interested in my wider network - hence my invitation to them to come to the meetup. 

9 - Others

I can't mention all the people and groups I'd like to bring together, but here are a few more I'll be telling:

Some PRADSA (Practical Design for Social Action) people. (We are still keeping in touch online long after the projects officially ended). There are previous and present overlaps with work in UK and other countries, social action, social networks, and challenges of measuring the value of social capital.

Some School of Commoning people - Another focus for my free-range-learning, especially regarding the commons, peer-to-peer working, and many 21sr century approaches and ideas.

Some contacts in Engineers Without Borders because dialogue between them and people in Fantsuam could be valuable - see "For want of a nail" - Why a stronger Dadamac is urgently needed

Reminder of the event details

The event is Challenges and Opportunities for Innovation on November 25th at 6.30pm.  You will not need to be a paid up member of the GlobalNet21 group to attend - but you will need to register.