In June, a team of teachers from Oslo and Kampala conducted three training events at Makerere University Library.
The main event was an intensive two week LATINA workshop on elearning and digital librarianship for professional librarians from East Africa. LATINA stands for Learning And Teaching IN A digital world.
From a practical point of view, LATINA is
- a training and development laboratory – the LATINA/Lab – within the Learning Centre and Library of Oslo and Akershus University College of the Applied Science
- a series of training courses, usually lasting for several weeks, that are conducted by this laboratory
- a specific approach to digital learning, teaching, training and change management
As the web expands, we start to live double lives
- we continue with our ordinary lives in our physical and social environment – “in real life” (IRL)
- but we also spend increasing amounts of time at our digital screens – where we work, communicate, read, watch and listen
The second life is not unreal, of course. But it takes place in a different environment – which we call virtual.
When we interact with our people, we constantly move between the virtual and the “real”. We use mobile phones to set up physical meetings – but also to document and share those meetings on the web. Our relationships with our people – our social world - integrates the material and the virtual world.
This is also a matter of technology. As long as we must struggle “to get on the web”, we experience the two worlds as separate. When the barriers to access disappear, the distinction between web and physical world becomes meaningless. The boundaries dissolve.
The human world is not natural. Humans make tools and use tools to produce their world. Our landscapes are products of agriculture. Modern cities are products of the industrial age. The emerging global society will – in addition – be a product of digital technology.
In Kampala I bought a few books on teaching, learning and libraries. They are listed here:
- Asiimwe, Akiiki. Community mobilization skills. Kampala: Fountain Publishers/Makerere University. – 53 pp.
- Fountain integrated primary science. Pupil’s book 5. Kampala: Fountain, 2003. – 238 pp.
- Fun at home and at school. Kampala: Fountain, 2009. – 30 pp.
- Lamwaka, Beatrice. Anena’s victory. Kampala: Fountain, 2009. – 50 pp. (Fountain Junior Living Youth Series)
- Magara, Elisam. Developing a career in library and information science. A handbook for schools of library and information science. Kampala: Fountain, 2010. – 206 p.
- Miirima, Henry Ford. How to acquire an insatiable thirst for a reading culture. Kampala: Henry Ford Miirima, 2010. – 154 pp.
- Mununura, Joseph et al. MK integrated primary science. Pupil’s book 1. Kampala: MK publishers, 2001. – 83 pp.
- Muwanga, Nansozi K. et al. Literacy practices in primary schools in Uganda: Lessons for future interventions. Kampala: Fountain, 2007. – 180 p.
- Parry, Kate (ed.). Language and literacvy in Uganda. Towards a sustainable reading culture. Kampala: Fountain, 2000. – 117 pp.
- Parry, Kate (ed.). Teaching reading in African schools. Kampala: Fountain, 2005. – 336 pp. (= International reading association. Literacy for All in Africa, vol. 1)
- Sicherman, Carol. Becoming an African university. Makerere 1922-2000. Kampala: Fountain publishers, 2006. – 416 pp. Excellent.
Information saves lives.
But information is useless if people do not act. The case of malaria demonstrates the need to combine knowledge and action.
Malaria is the most serious public health problem in Uganda. For most people, malaria leads to days or weeks of illness rather than death. Their loss is economical, since their capacity to work is reduced.
In Uganda, as in most of Africa, the library sector is very weak.
The original causes are historical. Uganda – and most of Africa – developed as societies based on oral rather than written cultures. In the colonial period, literacy was primarily an administrative tool. Widespread primary schooling is recent. Newspaper circulation and book production remain low.
Official literacy rates of fifty, sixty or seventy peercent do not imply functional literacy. Large sectors are only partially literate. Many people can understand a simple text, but have problems with complex documents. They lack the habit of reading.
It was easier in the past.
You studied – or wrote – the book. And that was it. Gutenberg ruled OK.
LATINA 2008: Participants from Sudan and China.
Now Gutenberg shares the stage with Gates and Google. The teaching materials I am preparing for the EdLib workshop in Kampala on October 1-3 exist in three parallell versions: one for the web, one for a folder or memory stick – and one for the world of paper.
Thirty-five years ago I spent two years as a teacher of statistics and social science methods in Moshi, a bustling trading centre on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Now I look forward to return to East Africa. This time the country is Uganda rather than Tanzania.
The library department at Oslo University College has collaborated with library schools in East Africa and Sudan for several years. Last year, the principal music librarian from Makerere University Library – Agnes Namaganda – attended our 2009 LATINA summer course on e-learning and digital libraries. This year, three of her colleagues – Philliam, Irene and Monica - joined the course. They also visited Gjerdrum Public Library, and our home – pictured right.