Dadamacadamy–dream or reality–an action research project
My dream for the Dadamacadamy is that it will become a centre for research and learning. This is already starting to happen in a small way.
The Dadamacadamy will not provide taught courses. It will do three interrelated things:
- Provide an environment for practice-based learning and reflection.
- Create a repository of knowledge.
- Make available its knowledge and networks through collaborative research and consultancy.
Provide an environment for practice based learning and reflection.
People who have shared concerns will cluster together in the Dadamacadamy to consider what they're doing, and to share what they are learning. The Dadamacadamy will enable peer-based learning of the highest order - driven, not by a desire for accreditation, but by passionate concerns and the need to know.
Create a repository of knowledge.
The knowledge that people bring, and the new knowledge that they create together, will be collected together at Dadamacadamy and made freely available.
Make available its knowledge and networks
The best and most up-to-date knowledge exists in people's minds and conversations before it is organised and published online, and In reality, only a fraction of shared ideas ever get recorded. Access to Dadamac's previously unrecorded knowledge and networks can be made available through collaborative research and consultancy.
How will it work?
It will work the way that it is starting to work already. The Dadamacadamy will be open to all comers, with people forming natural peer groups, and being informed about the work of other groups.
At Dadamacadamy there will be little distinction between learning and teaching. As now (within the Dadamac team and in Collaborators Connect and so on) we will all be sharing what we know in order to learn from each other.
This is an open knowledge model of collaborative learning. There are no lecturers or examiners to be paid. There are no physical buildings to maintain. There are no fee-paying students. There is simply a community of learners, self-selected and online, learning together through what is gradually becoming the Dadamacadamy.
The only costs are largely administrative:
- Technical (site hosting and updating)
- Social (making sure that people are welcomed, mentored and nurtured and in the learning community)
- Business (related to research and consultancy for outside organisations)
At present costs are comparatively small. I do much of the work myself and cover ongoing costs from my own pocket, both for Dadamac.net and for the embryonic Dadamacadamy. This may seem crazy for people who are looking for a social business model. However, it makes more sense, if you think of the work so far as my postgraduate research in ICT4Ed&D (information and communication technology for education and development).
To my mind this is an ongoing action research project about emerging 21st-century learning systems. In that context my investment makes more sense. Given that I'm doing my studies independently (as a prototype Dadamacadamy learner) I'm not paying any university fees. I'm not paying any travel costs or extra accommodation fees. Also, throughout my research, as I am based in my home location, I have been able to continue with my usual bits and pieces of “day jobs” to enable me to pay my way. Given the cost of studying at a traditional university, and given my desire to study areas according to my own interests and choices, I believe I'm getting great value for my "educational investment".
If I am also able to sell what I know then I will have created employment for myself through my studies at Dadamacadamy - something that i hope will also happen for other Dadamacadamy learners.
Area of study
I'm studying emergent learning systems and structures in “post-web” communities. This is very practical research. Fortunately I'm active in various online communities, because I'm genuinely interested in what I learn there. I'm also doing all kinds of practical learning with my own attempts to facilitate online communication and knowledge sharing through Dadamac.net. I think this might mean that I am "a reflective practitioner doing action research", althiugh I confess that I'm not sure if that's the right jargon – "jargon uncertainly" is one of the minor stumbling blocks of working outside the established system.
As I look at other topics and issues that are of concern to my friends and contacts I dream of enabling them to rub minds with their peers at Dadamacadamy, so they can implement their own practical work was new energy and effectiveness.
Topics that are top of their agendas at present include:
- Conflict resolution (North Central Nigeria).
- Drought (Kenya).
- Permaculture (Tanzania).
- Climate change (online–Coalition of the Willing).
- Small-scale irrigation (online–Graham Knight).
- Education and training for offenders (Namibia).
- Online community building (online–Coalition of the Willing).
In my dreams Dadamacadamy will provide them with opportunities to address all these topics, and many more, in ways that are theoretically sound and practically effective - an approach combining global wisdom, good practical solutions, local implementation, and replicataion rather than scalability.
Dream or reality?
Maybe it's a crazy dream, but maybe it isn't. There is our online space at Dadamac.net. We connect with practical local projects well esatblished on the ground - especially in north central Nigeria, south-west Nigeria, urban Kenya (Kibera), rural Kenya (Rusinger Island), rural Tanzania and rural Ethiopia. We have a robust, high trust network of contacts and collaborators online, who come from many parts of the globe and from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. We can tap into an enviable knowledge base and bring together people with exceptional specialist knowledge.
All of the above is reality, not dreaming. It's not bad for starters and with no external funding of any kind. It's certainly a working prototype of an emergent 21st-century learning system–and collaborators are welcome. Anything could happen.