Thursday, 19 January 2006


I'm just back from a conference at the OU HQ in Milton Keynes. It was great being there as an interloper as all these high-powered academics strutted their stuff and bandied words like "pedagogy" and "technology" (I understand technology but it was clearly a new concept to some of the academics on show! :-)).

There were some webcast plenary sessions and all were very good - our very own Bluefluff watched one from home and emailed a question which was asked live, don'tcha have to love technology?

Anyway, in amongst all this there were also breakout sessions running in parallel so there were four options of 3 or 4 sessions at a time. Again I saw some great stuff but the one I'd like to share with everyone was stunning.

First up some numbers. There are about 63 million children of secondary school age without access to schooling in Africa. Read that again - the population of the UK is fewer than that all up. Also in Africa one million children each year lose their teacher to Aids, a teacher dies, on average, every two hours. In Lesotho the state started offering free education to all and now classes at the Thamae Lec school are in excess of 200 pupils, many of those teaching have no more than primary school education themselves. Many schools are nothing more than tents and they frequently blow down, even brick-built schools often don't have electricity or telephone lines.

The OU is working in collaboration with partners in the area (and from further afield) to help train teachers, in schools, using mobile phones as the main communication and delivery mode. Part of the OU's mission was always to be a public good and this is just one example of how it is using technology and near global reach to help with a problem that is described, in education terms, as being as big as HIV/Aids. The programme is called TESSA - Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa and is working with the DEEP - Digital Education Enhancement Project (I often wonder whether there is a special department dedicated to coming up with these acronymns??).

Take a moment to look at these sites and think about the educational advantages you and your children enjoy, I know I sat through this presentation thinking about the number of times my children had complained that their bags were heavy or that there were 30 children in a classroom and it was hot that day.

7 careful considerations:

Nogbad said...

I suppose I should also say that I understand pedagogy too! (And in many instances it was misused during the conference - andragogy is what we should have been discussing!)

Bluefluff said...

Re pedagogy/andragogy - I think sometimes it's out of ignorance, but maybe sometimes too as lazy generic shorthand?

Re your links - yes, very humbling!

Re the conference - it sounds corny, I know, but tuning in to the webcast did give me a real sense of being part of a community, especially since I knew a handful of the people there. I hope my question (not its hastily composed content, but the very fact of it being asked) made a point about the large constituency - to use their jargon - of people outside HQ who actually care about what's going on & are using technology to participate.
Another boundary being crossed?

Morning-Loves-It said...

Wonderful project by the OU. Why can't we have webcasts for tutorials?

Rob Spence said...

You say andragogy, I say pedagogy... It doesn't work as lyric does it?
Yes, it's always good to get some perspective. I'm glad the OU is involved in this - it balances the corporate bollocks about branding.

kat said...

Interesting stuff and I will certainly have a better look at those websites - but later. I am still trying to calm down since a women complained very bitterly about the little foot on the right hand side of a keyboard being missing. This is inspite of the fact that there were 6 other (spare) computers and keyboards available in the room. She could have moved to anyone of them but didn't want to.
Yes, andragogy is the correct word but since leaving training college I have never heard anyone use it.

DareDevil said...

Interesting post

Nogbad said...

I think the pedagogy/andragogy thing sticks in my head because I think it's too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that teaching children is the same as working with adults and it patently isn't.

Morning - we did/do! We had a webcast at the start of one presentation of T171 and loads of people are looking at different delivery mechanisms but part of the issue is the availability of technology - would anyone be disenfranchised if they couldn't receive the webcast? If you check the OU web site there are webcasts of lectures and also MP3s of lectures too - check out