PeoplesUni.org Proof of Concept

Professor Dick Heller, Dr John Dada and Pamela McLean collaborated on the foundation work for what subsequently became the Peoples Open Access Education Initiative: Peoples-uni - Building Public Health capacity using Internet-based e-learning.

Dual proof of concept

The project began after Professor Dick Heller ( a specialist in public health) and Pamela McLean met through an online discussion list about ICT4Ed (Information and Communication Technologies for Education).

The result was a successful collaboration which tested two complementary elements:

  • Sharing UK based public health expertise with health care professionals in low- to medium-income countries.
  • Defining a model for successful collaboration between the UK and rural Nigeria, that would work with many kinds of projects.

Introducing people

Pam recognised that Dick Heller and John Dada had overlapping interests related to skill development for health professionals in rural Nigeria, so she introduced them to each other.

Effective collaboration

Pam was studying the roles, relationships and information flows involved in effective Internet enabled-collaboration (between UK and rural Nigeria). She had already developed a careful theoretical and practical model for effective collaboration. It was based on several iterations of the Teachers Talking course and some work on DIY solar. She had most recently been defining precisely the role of "facilitator" and wanted to test it in detail with a completely new project. She needed a project with the following elements:

  • A Special Interest Group - SIG - people with some shared purpose involving a practical outcome.
  • At least one activist in the UK
  • At least one activist in Nigeria
  • Use of the Internet
  • At least one facilitator to enable effective collaboration (relating to information content, people who needed to communicate, and the technology to be used)
  • The potential to involve a much wider team
  • People on the ground with a genuine need for what the SIG was working onSubject expertise
  • Local needs expertise
  • Technical expertise

Facilitation

She saw the possibility of testing the detailed facilitation role in a collaboration with Dick Heller and John Dada as the two activists. The facilitation team were Pamela McLean, Lorraine Duff, and Omo Oaiya of Datasphir who provided ICT expertise and Moodle hosting.

A dual success

The exploration of sharing UK based public health expertise with health care professionals in low- to medium-income countries, lead to the development and testing of two pilot courses, and the subsequent launch of PeoplesUni.org providing distance-learning post-graduate courses accredited by the UK Royal Society of Public Health.

The model for successful collaboration between the UK and rural Nigeria is the model that Dadamac uses for all its projects. In particular, our collaborative work benefits from our careful study of the role of facilitator.

More details of the intial project are here.

Peoples-uni is a UK registered charity. Professor Dick Heller is a trustee and the  coordinator. John Dada, Pamela McLean and Omo Oaiya are members of the Advisory Board.

March 2010 Update

In March 2010 Dadamac and People's-Uni started a new collaboration related to Sickle Cell Disease.