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Tuesday, October 19 • 9:30am - 10:10am
World Librarians: A System Providing Open Educational Resources to Offline Schools in Malawi & Kenya

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World Librarians (WL) is an operational socio-technical system and workflow that provides digital Open Educational Resource information and search services to children attending very remote and offline schools and libraries in Malawi and Kenya. The OER content is provided in two ways: (1) through a local offline wifi server called a RACHEL (Remote Access Community Hotspot for Education and Learning); and (2) through Twitter message-based content requests. The key to this system is an effort to provide these teachers and students content they want and not content that we in the global north think they want.

In this presentation, we will describe the operational system we have developed over the course of five years, where we first establish solar-powered computer labs with the OER-enabled RACHEL database in remote schools in Malawi and Kenya.

We will then explain the socio-technical workflow of the World Librarians program. This involves the establishment of “Requester nodes” in the offline schools and libraries, the management of these deployments using a cloud-based WL app, and the operations of the WL “Searcher node” at the University of Massachusetts Amherst capitalizing on OER databases, as well as a novel micro-payment system that enables the transfer of large digital datasets through the use of teacher or librarian cell phones and data plans. We will also provide some findings from a preliminary survey suggesting that the WL program is making a positive impact on the schools and libraries served.

The latter part of the presentation will look toward the future. We will reflect on our experiences running the WL system in both Malawi and Kenya, and then reflect on future expansion, including our interest to create in-country searcher teams supporting schools in their own country with OER resources, and the idea of encouraging new OER authorship in these countries to support their own local community needs?

In sum, at its core, WL represents a global librarian support system working to remove the barriers to educational information for all global citizens, with central attention and awareness to Global North/South information power dynamics, and focused entirely on the use and provision of OER resources.

After participating in this session, attendees will be able to:
  • Understand concerns about information power dynamics between the Global North and Global South
  • Understand how a relatively low-cost socio-technical system for open educational resource sharing could be adapted and deployed in offline developing regions of the world
  • Become involved in ongoing conversations surrounding the World Librarians project and even have opportunities to join in the growing effort to get OER content in the hands of teachers and children who currently have no access to these kinds of information

Speakers
avatar for Sarah Hutton

Sarah Hutton

Interim Dean, University Libraries, University of Massachusetts Amherst
I'm a librarian and doctoral candidate whose research focuses on open education and open educational practices (OEP). Member of the CC Global Network, GO-GN, and OE4BW collaborator. Also an artist and parent to human munchkins and fur babies.
avatar for Charlie Schweik

Charlie Schweik

Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
I co-founded the World Librarians program with Carl Meyer in Malawi and lead a team of wonderful University of Massachusetts students who make the OER searcher socio-technical component of the system work. Our goal at UMass is to continue to support our colleagues on the ground in... Read More →
avatar for Carl Meyer

Carl Meyer

Co-founder, Shift IT
For the last 20 years I have been building wireless networks in Africa. In 2015 I co-founded Shift IT to improve access to digital learning resources in the education sector. I also co founded the World Librarians Project which serves requests from offline communities. 
avatar for Wachira Warukira

Wachira Warukira

Team Leader, Net Bila Net - NBN
I am a Kenyan social entrepreneur with keen interest in projects related to access to quality education, youth mentorship, rural development, music and arts. I am a music producer and pencil artist but my educational background is in Business Administration. I use my talents and skills... Read More →

Overview
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Tuesday October 19, 2021 9:30am - 10:10am EDT
Room B