Startup workshop for Maarifa Initiative in Addis Ababa

In mid July I traveled to Addis Ababa to start up the først Maarifa Initiative project in Ethiopia. On my trip to eLearning Africa in May earlier this year I met with my friend Fasika Minda at Addis Ababa University and Fasika will now lead the work for us in Addis this summer. Together with Zekarias Teshome will be organizing the work of students and development of both content and our website.

The project team preparing the project for the summer
The project team preparing the project for the summer

During the first workshop now i July we have launched the Ethiopian version of our website at and startet translating content from English to Amharic. We have also recruited students who will work for us during the summer and we have now formed a team of 9 people in Addis.

We will translate and re-contextualize content in three different categories:

  • Basic ICT and web literacy
  • Life skills(teacher resources)
  • Literacy(teacher resources)

As a part of the project in Ethiopia we will also develop new content using H5P, mainly focusing on interactive content like drag and drop and fill in the blanks to add value to the content we translate.

Fasika prepping the students for their evaluation and test
Fasika prepping the students for their evaluation and test

We have re-used Creative Commons resources from The open University and their Tessa project, NDLA(Open educational resources for secondary schools in Norway),  The Australian government and Norwegian  project)

From August 3 – 6 we will organize a larger workshop at Addis Ababa University where students will participate and translate content into Amharic.

5 facts showing that EdTech is important for the future of global education

Many teachers and politicians are still asking critical questions concerning EdTech and whether technology can improve education in a global perspective. It is important to be critical and technology is no substitute for a good teacher or well-established teaching methods.

On the other hand there are some global numbers and forecasts which show that it is almost impossible to solve the global education crisis we face without including digital learning resources as part of the equation.

1. No fewer than 250 million children can not read or write. These children represents 20 percent of all children in the world.

2. 130 million of the 250 million people who can neither read nor write have been trough at least four years of school.

3. Globaly there is the need for 12.6 million new teachers until 2020 to reach the goal of education for all. This is according to Unesco, based on current paradigm without extensive use of technology.

4. Teacher Salaries make up about 80 percent of education budgets in most countries.

5. By 2025, there will be upwards of 4.7 Billion people online of and 75 percent of the increase will come in emerging economies.

I think these number tell us that we can say without any shadow of doubt that edTech and digital learning resources will play a “center stage” role in moving global education in to a new paradigme.

Source: EFA Global Monitoring Report 2015.

Announcement of the GoOpen projects in Uganda and Ethiopia

This summer we will do projects in Kampala, Uganda and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

The backdrop for our project is the need for digital learning resources that gives children young people good basic ICT-knowledge and digital skills. The need for digital learning resources in local and national languages in Africa is great. We based this conclusion on the simple fact that teaching, especially for the youngest children, take place in local languages.

Our project will therefore focus on providing digital learning resources in African languages and a platform to facilitate translation in to new languages based on a model of crowdsourcing and micropayment.

Micropayment for translation and re-contextualization

In this project we will translate and re-contextualization specific resources related to ICT and Web literacy into several African languages, starting with Luganda and Amharic.

We will use Mozilla Webmaker when building the resources and Transifex to translate. The project will build on the reuse of high-quality content licensed under Creative Commons. Our mashups will combine resources from many projects, mainly from project). The content structure will build on the Mozilla Web Literacy Map.


Mozilla define Web Literacy as the skills and competencies needed for reading, writing, and participating on the Web.

An important driver for our project is that we will not make new learning resources from scratch if we can re-use, re-make and create mashups based on existing high quality educational resources.

  1. Find open educational recourses targeting both teachers(teach the teacher) and students
  2. Re-make, create new mashups, translate and re-contextualization resources into new open Educational resources based on local needs
  3. Publish our new versions under a creative commons license
  4. Promote re-use of the re-makes and create a community of teachers and students

We build our community model on micro payment that goes directly to the student or teacher who contributes, will be central to the project. This is important for two reasons:

  • Whoever does the work will be the one who receives payment
  • Payment for translations will take place after the work actually is carried out

Translating Khan Academy is not the objective for our project this summer but we are looking to build our teams both in Uganda and Ethiopia to be ready for this task.

Khan Academy launched in Norwegian!

The Norwegian version of Khan Academy has been launched today, howcool is that!!! The project has come trough with help from NDLA and our own Khan Academy project manager, Elisabet Rommedal. 

Photo by: Tom Knudsen

Khan Academy is famous for being one of the first OERs really going viral with millions of people using the site and learning from the videos on Youtube.  When asked wath is so great about Khan, Elisabet answers:

We find that students are so fascinated that they forget to take a break, says Elisabet Romedal. – Khan Academy uses various methods of game technology, so you can simply get a little hooked on math. When you get an assignment, it makes you want to do a new one.

To get a page in a new language, one must first have a test page that must be approved by the Khan Academy. A Norwegian beta site has been live since January 2015 and is already visited by 10,000 users.

Internationally there is a French, Spanish and Portuguese version of Khan Academy, and now also in Norwegian. If you are wondering which other languages are being worked on  you can find them here.

Photo by: Khan Academy
Photo by: Khan Academy

Sal Khan showing his excitement over the launch of the Norwegian site!

Creative commons LIcence makes it all possible 

This translation is made possible because Khan Academy have licensed most of their work under a Creative Commons. In general this means that Khan have given permission to anyone who wants to re-use and translate their content.

The first translation work of Norwegian was made by a Norwegian student who saw the value of Khan Academy for Norwegian students. The number of sequences in Norwegian has increased rapidly over the past year. Now large amounts tasks translated videos have received Norwegian subtitles, and many also with Norwegian voiceover.  

The voluntary work continues

Elisabet Romedal wants more helpers to pich in with the work that still remains. – Now students and teachers adopt these wonderful resources that we have made available. We hope motivates teachers to contribute on a voluntary basis.

The Norwegian version of Khan can be found here.

How to make your own taylor made Open educational resource – mashup from Khan, CK-12 and H5P

This video tutorial is based on workshops that we did in 2014, both in Uganda and Sweden. The basic idea is that instead of just consuming resources or writing your own from scratch, you take bits and peaces from global OER projects and build your own OER based on your specific local needs. This will ensure high quality and at the same time make it easer to build OERs for those with limited resources.

In this video tutorial I walk you trough the practical aspects of actually making your own taylor made OER based on a mashup of text, video and illustrations from the following projects:


Offline educational resources – crucial for African schools in the years to come

During eLearning Africa 2015 in Addis Abeba I have met many enthusiastic and inspiring people. The conference has covered many topics like MOOCs, mobile learning and the importans of vocational training. 

With my background as an advocate for open educational resources the big question for me has been; Can open educational resources make a differens in changing global learning – and specifically for emerging economies? After listening to talks on different relating topics and talking to teachers and startups from many different countries my conclusion is: YES!

During his keynote the frist day at eLearning Africa, Mark Surman from the Mozilla foundation showed a survey with predictions that within 2025 nearly 5 billion people all over the world will be online. Most of the new users will be in developing countries.

In the meantime it is crucial to address the fact that most africans schools are not online. The importans of online connectivity and the importans of offline resources when a school goes offline for any reason. For those schools that are online, having offline resources will also address the issue of cost when using video lectures from sites like Khan Academy is equally important.

There are some projects that have addressed this problem and I would like to give en introduction to some of them:

KA – Lite


KA Lite offers instructional videos from Khan Academy on math, science, history, economics and matches the common core standards. They also provide a diverse collection of math exercises for students that generates immediate feedback, provides step-by-step solutions, and works through a point system to encourage continued practice of material. You can download as many as you’d like to use in your installation of KA Lite.

Offline version of Wikipedia

Wikipedia offers free copies of all available content to interested users. These databases can be used for mirroring, personal use, informal backups, offline use. All text content is multi-licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). Images and other files are available under different terms, as detailed on their description pages. Often this means that you can use the pictures as well.

Gutenberg project – 46.000 books offline

Project Gutenberg offers over 46,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online. We carry high quality ebooks: All our ebooks were previously published by bona fide publishers. We digitized and diligently proofread them with the help of thousands of volunteers. No fee or registration is required, but if you find Project Gutenberg useful, we kindly ask you to donate a small amount so we can buy and digitize more books.

The Rachel project

The Rachel project have made a server(small and compact) including some of the best educational resources on the web, neatly packaged together for download and distribution in places without internet. For more info, check out this video explaining how it is made.

Apps on Android and iPad

Some of the apps on tablets like Android and iPad will not require you to be online at all times. There are a groing number av apps that will provide a good learning experience. 

Some of the apps that we have tried in projects are:

  • Mathking
  • Quizlet
  • Dragonbox
  • O Clock

Tanx to Nuug Foundation as sponsor for my trip to eLearning Africa.

Global Sharing of Digital Learning Resources: A Paradigm Shift in the Making

The rise of open educational resources(OER) and Massiv Open Online Courses like MIT OpenCourseWare, Coursera, Khan Academy, CK-12 and edX represent a distinct change in how people all over the world can learn new skills and get educated. Many of these project allow free access witch means that you can take the courses for free and access all the resources.

So this idea is something «everyone» tries to replicate, a result of this is that everyone is making their own content, but very few are reusing what others have developed when making something for themselves.  For the future we have to re-think OERs and MOOCs and start building our content on what others already have made, if at all possible.

One reason for this might be that the current situation does not provide tools for users to mashup, and re-create and translate. In practice it should be possible for a teacher to search for high quality learning resources(this is already solved by Google) and then in an easy way make their own learning resources based on their needs.

How can we go about changing this?

Lets learn from the success of Wikipedia and crowdsourcing

The freedom to share, re-use, change, translate and mash up new versions are some of the reasons for Wikipedia becoming the most important source of knowledge on the internett.

At the hart of  Wikipedias growth is the «magic» that emerges around crowdsourcing – a method where a large number of people work together on solving a problem or creating a knowledge univers like Wikipedia. More than 10 million people have written something on Wikipedia.

At the «foundation» for crowdsourcing lies the freedom to share, re-use, change, translate and mash up new versions and this will also be important when we are talking about high quality digital learning resources.   

Did you know that you can translate Khan Academy into your own language?

Khan Academy is one of the most famous open educational resources giving their users access to thousands of lectures in subject like math, history and science. One thing about Khan that is not that well known is that you can translate Khan Academy into your own language. You can do this legaly because:

  • Khan Academy publishes all there resources under a Creative Commons license
  • Khan Academy offers a tool for anyone that wishes to translate into another language


When we talk about Open educational resources(OER) that are released under a free license like creative commons it is crucial to distinguish these from those online giving free access. The factor of free access is important, but this alone limits the possibilities to make changes, create new content and translate into new languages.

Some basic principals must be at the core of a global community sharing OER:
  • All content must be available for free, free access
  • All the resources must be under what is called a free license, for example Creative Commons
  • All the resources must be available plattform independent, this will make it possible for local startups and businesses to make new edTech based on this content
  • There must be a mechanism for micropayment for those that contribute in to the community

After attending and speaking at this weeks eLearning Africa conference in Addis Abeba I am convinced that our global community of educators will succeed best if we go for the model of Wikipedia with sharing trough a crowdsourcing community.

Tanx to Nuug Foundation as sponsor for my trip to eLearning Africa.

Will the gap of the digital divide be closed by the mobile phone?

The Digital Divide defines the difference between those who have access to technology and the internet and those who do not. Of the world’s population of about 7 billion, almost 70 per cent have no access to a PC or the internet. Projects that help to close this digital gap will help to create the basis for global sharing of knowledge and high quality education for all.

The annual report on health and education and results that was published by Norad(the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) in December 2013 indicates progress in both health and education in recent years. At the same time, population growth in low-income countries is high, and the population of Africa is expected to double by 2050.

5 facts showing that EdTech is important for the future of global education:

1. No fewer than 250 million children can not read or write. These children represents 20 percent of all children in the world.

2. 130 million of the 250 million people who can neither read nor write have been trough at least four years of school.

3. Globaly there is the need for 12.6 million new teachers until 2020 to reach the goal of education for all. This is according to Unesco, based on current paradigm without extensive use of technology.

4. Teacher Salaries make up about 80 percent of education budgets in most countries.

EFA Global Monitoring Report 2015.

Overcoming these obstacles will therefore require considerable effort in order to ensure education for all, and it is here that I believe technology – and more specifically mobile applications and learning resources – can play an important role.

Global access to the digital commons

If we analyse the digital divide continent by continent, we can see that the vast majority of internet traffic is still between Europe and North America, while large parts of Asia and Africa are – literally – not on the web. Access to the internet will, in itself, facilitate knowledge for more people and give more equality of opportunity in many countries in the future.

Where access to the internet differs from other types of infrastructure is that we are less dependent on roads, factories or other buildings to bring it about. If we travel outside the major cities, in Africa for example, we find that many people already have mobile phones – even though their houses may have no direct access to electricity or clean water. To many Norwegians, this may appear to be a paradox, but for the inhabitants of these countries it is actually easier to obtain a mobile phone than a connection to power or water.

By 2025, there will be upwards of 4.7 Billion people online of which 75 percent will come from emerging economies.

As of November 2014, M-Pesa transactions for the first 11 months of 2014 were valued at KES. 2.1 trillion, a 28% increase from 2013, and almost half the value of the Kenyan GDP.

These numbers from Kenya on mobile payment are what I would call a forecast that when the digital divide is closed, it will come as a result of the uptake of mobile phones!

Working with H5P at Life academy workshop in Karlstad

LIFE Academy in Sweden provides training, learning and networking opportunities in the field of sustainable Development. They work with organizations, institutions and ministries across different countries with a main purpose to contribute to sustainable solutions all over the world, with a strong focus on developing countries.

I’ve been asked by Life Academy to arrange workshops for groups of teachers and other resources from different continents and countries attending a course at Life Academy. At the last workshops we have had participants from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Rwanda. My role has been to teach them about open educational resources and how to reuse and translate resources from global projects with content based on a free license such as Creative Commons.

IMG_0190Picture from the workshop in February 2015. 

In this workshop we worked with a tool called H5P. H5P makes it easy to create, share and reuse HTML5 content and applications. H5P empowers teachers and studens to create rich and interactive web experiences more efficiently – all you need is a web browser and a web site with an H5P plugin. There are many different types of learning resources one can make.

In the last two workshop in February and April we did the following exercise with H5P:

  • First we made a text with facts from the different countries(demo of crowdsourcing)
  • Step 2, all participants made and interactive “drag and drop text” simply by adding “*” into the basic tekst
  • Step 3, the different groups maid the same “drag and drop text” in their own language

The magic with a simple tool like H5P is that only within minutes anyone with basic computer skills can make interactive content for their students. Sharing the interactive content is also very easy, you can download and re-use to make your own version or you can embed it on your own blogg or website like I have done in the examples in this post.

H5P objects are very easy to translate, check out some of different languages here:

English version:
Bangla version: Khmer Version:

Introduction to Open educational resources and MOOCs

Open educational resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. Although some people consider the use of an open file format to be an essential characteristic of OER, this is not a universally acknowledged requirement.

The term MOOC, a massive open online course (MOOC /muːk/) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs provide interactive user forums to support community interactions between students, professors, and teaching assistants

In this introduction I have collected some tutorials and talks that I consider to be great for those who would like to learn more about these important subjects:

OER Introduction

Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. The CC licenses are easy to understand for non technical users and there is a license guide to help you choose the right license.

Sal Khan talks about how technology can change education

Sal Khan is most famous for creating Khan Academy. In this talk at TED he also talks about some of the key elements in flipped classrooms and adaptive learning.

edX – and an introduction to MOOC

In this Ted-talk the head of edX, Anant Agarwal, makes the case that MOOCs as a way to share high-level learning widely and supplement (but perhaps not replace) traditional classrooms.