Bob and Freda’s TESSA presentation

October 31, 2007


Bob’s TESSA presentation

Originally uploaded by openlearn2007

The TESSA OER experience: building sustainable models of production and user implementation

Bob has started the session off … he is telling a bit of TESSA which looks at teachers in sub-Saharan Africa.

He is showing us a picture of teachers and the classes they take and the number of students in it. Most of them are over 200 students, where the room is less than half the size of the room in which we are now in (room is an alright size bigger than CMR15).

He is talking about a Nigerian teacher who has 90 students, which has no books, no pens and no desks and no paper.

There are over 40M children not in school in Africa (or the world?) as there are no schools for then – the world is trying to do something for them through the Millennium goals. There is a growing number of para-professional teachers as there is not enough training for the teachers.

The numbers in school was not a good indicator of the kind of education that students were getting (based on reports from UNESCO and Commission for Africa). About 50% of the primary students don’t finish school. He thinks this is the biggest problem … he is also drawing into the health problems such as malaria and TB which he says is looked at with more focus rather than the educational aspects.

TESSA involves 18 countries across the sub-Saharan Africa. These projects are done at <500 people although it should be with larger numbers, and these projects should be capable of replication rather than just one-off projects.

The only pedagogic tool that teachers have is what they have in their heads and the blackboard.

Just showed us a picture in Sudan a few decades (?) ago in which they have a blackboard – and is saying things haven’t changed that much.

The OER system the issues of need to take up particularly for the teacher audience is very important. The logistics of this means that most teacher training must occur in schools not in teacher training institutions – because that is the reality. And because it is school-based training it must have some kind of support or structure and it doesn’t automatically mean a system that is distance-education in the traditional system but it is something we go to think about. The OER is thus allowing people to create programmes which they can dip into and reshape to their own needs. He is also talking about value-adding to these resources in which they are able to link and adapt for their purposes.

There are 9 countries in the TESSA programme, involving West, East and Southern Africa. Half-million teachers in 2008 would be using the resources in one shape or the other.

Ok, so far very interesting stuff … but now it is Freda to talk.

She is talking about framing factors that will be what shaped the project. Two framing factors: the structure and design of the TESSA portal and the second is the access and take up.

First challenge, to develop materials that can easily contextualise across all countries and regions. The solution they came up with is a very structured writing/ authoring template such as activities they undertake, the case studies, a linking narrative, learning outcomes, and also there is a resource box (e.g. children’s work, web-links). They defined generic things in the authoring templates – such as the learning outcomes are constant across all materials. The supporting resources are more contextualised such as different images.

Using the authoring templates they’ve made over 750 units and it has involved over 100 hrs with help from people in the partner organisations.

Also, important is the context in which the teachers would be working – such as not having electricity, internet or even computers. Had to think of an easy way to disseminate this easily across Africa. They have created a mechanism to convert these into different formats such as webpages, pdfs and word documents (allowing them to amend them).
Also, wanted to help people in developing new materials and developing dialogue in different institutions – also create something that is universal but also applicable to them and also country pages on TESSA tend to be in the language of the country.

Courses in which the TESSA materials are being used:
1. Diploma in Primary Education (Open University of Tanzania)
2. Recognition of Prior Learning course (University of Fort Hare, South Africa)
3. 3 year post secondary teacher training programme (National Teachers’ Institute of Nigeria)

They’re also thinking of looking at using games in the classroom with the OER materials – this is being investigated at the Nelson Mandela Institute.

TESSA material has been also adopted by the B.Ed and CPD course in University of South Africa and a university in Sudan.

Framing factors:
1. structure of the original OERS
2. ease of localisation of OERS
3. Quality assurance
4. access and take-up
5. portal design and organisation

Through discussion and debate, once the portal is launched that a new architecture for teacher development can be made.

Question time! (Internet still not working – so got to wait till I get to another room to upload this … sorry for all those people eagerly awaiting my post – now that is being egoistical :)).

Freda is answering a question: The original material has become repurpose materials for the TESSA project – not sure where the original material is coming from … oh – she means the original material of the TESSA project whilst the repurpose materials are the ones which people tinker (another buzz word of the conference) with. People share their materials and this is where people repurpose them. The original materials generate a benchmark for the regenerating materials.

Mary: She’s talking about her experience in Uganda, she is saying that the teachers only use a chalkboard because that is the cheapest thing they could afford.

Bob: Is saying that the pedagogy can be adapted to involve more participation by the learners … he is saying the TESSA materials allows students to do all classroom activities … what they’ve discovered is that if they use OER materials in the institutions and they develop it for their own context, that some institutions were more amnbitious for each other, and therefore the local people have to make their own minds up on what they want to do.
UNICEF guy asking: Schools are places for social and emotional development of students beyond that just for academic and that the teachers are champions of these developments. His purpose here is to develop materials for community caregivers and they’re targeting teachers … particularly as schools is where there is a ‘safe’ environment for students to come to… Is there a way in which we could put these materials up for the teachers?

Freda – answered yes there is an area where they can put these materials as there is an ‘other educational’ links (Great!). TESSA also has the capacity to put up materials that can be contextualised for that country which are considered to be appropriate for teachers.

Some guy is saying it is very ambitious but there is a lot of technical problems when it comes to implementations particularly with respect to the cultural aspects and also with respect to acquiring email. He wants to know how reasonable it is to do this with 500,000 teachers and how they’re going to evaluate it and where it is failing and where it is succeeded.

Bob is saying that there are parts in which they’re not doing as well as they should do but not necessarily failing. He is saying he went to institutions instead who were willing to go on board with this rather than the government and they’re not setting any agenda for these institutions except the ones they set for themselves. He is saying the Open University of Tanzania are being very ambitious as they’ve replaced all their materials with TESSA materials. He personally has no agenda with the change process of any country, they’re just providing enabling mechanisms, the resources and systems to do this.

Question: Why are you shying away from video?

Bob: Is saying that the robustness of the TESSA system is being testing at all the time, and is saying there is no money for providing high-quality videos and also that the internet systems cannot manage this (I think that’s the gist of it – but not entirely sure).

Freda is talking about a teacher exchange programme between teachers from different countries (Rwanda and Kenya) and their experiences were being broadcasted on BBC Africa World service (I think).

Quite an interesting talk – enjoyed it immensely – these talks always remind me why I want to work in third world development :). Don’t think the same extent of problems exist in Trinidad, probably somewhat in Guyana – but think this might be something good to probably extend to them as well (talking as someone from the Caribbean).

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