M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                  Version 2              Developing Open Educational Resources for...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                          Version 2                            ACK...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                          Version 2                             ContentsSections                  ...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                        Version 2I. Introduction1....
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                          Version 2The research tools used for dat...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                          Version 2that witnesses high rates of at...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                         Version 2although some of...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                        Version 2workers and were ...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                             Version 2to explore the possibilities...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                           Version 2made the Training Commons proj...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                Version 2a) Convening workshops an...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                        Version 2communication and...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                         Version 2realizations was...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                      Version 2day to day professi...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                         Version 2modules were bei...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                        Version 2          associa...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                            Version 2a) Evaluating and presenting ...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                              Version 2University (IGNOU) and othe...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                         Version 2c) Administrative support: They ...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                            Version 2validated its need and approp...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                     Version 2altogether. Therefor...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                             Version 2module as well as in imparti...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                           Version 2concept more i...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                             Version 2towards a co...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                             Version 2a) The final product, the cu...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                           Version 2c) The nature of their telecen...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                    Version 2VI Challenges & Learn...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                         Version 2trainer or self learner (Usha Re...
M2007 TC- OER Case Study                                                                       Version 2would also adverse...
Developing Open Educational Resources for  Training Telecentre Workers: Process, Practices and Learning
Developing Open Educational Resources for  Training Telecentre Workers: Process, Practices and Learning
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Developing Open Educational Resources for Training Telecentre Workers: Process, Practices and Learning


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The Training Commons study was conducted during April - June, 2008. Its aim was to understand and document the processes, practices, successes, and challenges of developing open content, and to assess its overall impact on stakeholders that include the trainers, who use the curriculum for training, the telecentre workers (or trainees) who participate in the trainings, and most importantly, the external open content community, which can potentially benefit from the lessons learned. Specifically, the Training Commons case study has explored three central themes: 1) its peer production model, 2) user engagement around developing and improving the curriculum, and 3) the concept of open content as understood by the Training Commons community.

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Developing Open Educational Resources for Training Telecentre Workers: Process, Practices and Learning

  1. 1. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2 Developing Open Educational Resources for Training Telecentre Workers: Process, Practices and Learning Shipra Sharma June 2008Shipra Page 1 3/21/2013
  2. 2. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI am taking this opportunity to thank all the people who supported me during thisresearch study. My sincere thanks are due to Dr. Mark Surman, Consultant,telecentre.org, Dr. Florencio Ceballos, Manager, telecentre.org, Dr. BasheerhamadShadrach, Sr. Program Officer, Asia, telecentre.org and Dr. Heather Ford, CEO,iCommons, for providing me this opportunity to participate in the iCommonsiCurriculum project. I will also like to thank Drs. Mark Surman, Basheerhamad Shadrachand Ambika Sharma, Research Officer, IDRC, SARO for their patience and cooperationduring the long interviews and their suggestions on the draft report. Ambika deservesspecial mention as she was also instrumental in introducing me to the Training Commonscommunity and motivating them to take part in the study. At the same time, the researchteam from ISKME, especially Drs.Cynthia Jimes and Renee Chin were very supportive atall stages of the project. Their help in creating the questionnaires is much appreciated andCynthia’s case study on Free High School Science Texts and Renee’s tips on dataanalysis and structuring the report helped a lot in organizing the Training Commonsreport. My Thanks are also due to the module authors, especially Mr. Surender Rana(formerly with TARAhaat), Mr. Muthu Kumar (Training Consultant, World Corps India),and Mr. Kannan (Plan International India) for their time, patience and cooperation duringthe interviews. My special thanks go to Mr. Kunal Tyagi (formerly with TARAhaat) whocoordinated all the field visits to the telecentres and provided excellent support at a timewhen the field visits and interviews with telecentre managers seemed out of reach. All thetelecentre workers and managers deserve many thanks for their time, patience andcooperation. I thank Ms. Rumi Malik (NASSCOM Foundation) for helping me tounderstand the issues around curriculum use. And, last, but certainly not the least, I willlike to thank the team from iCommons, Ms. Kerryn McKay, Project Manager; Ms. HettieDreyer, Book Keeper; Mr. Paul Jacobson, General Counsel and Company Secretary andothers for all the help and support throughout the project. ____________________________Shipra Page 2 3/21/2013
  3. 3. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2 ContentsSections Page NumbersAcknowledgements 2Contents 3I. Introduction 4II. Background 7III. The Process 10IV. The Practices 15V. The Concept of Open 22VI. Challenges & Learnings 27References 31Shipra Page 3 3/21/2013
  4. 4. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2I. Introduction1.1 ContextThe Mission 2007 Training Commons (Training Commons) Case Study is part of theiCommons iCurriclum project that seeks to create capacity both within and acrossinitiatives to track, analyze and share key developments in the creation, use and reuse ofOpen Educational Resources (OERs).1 Training Commons is one of six such initiativesbeing studied under this project. It sought to create a ‘living curriculum’ for the capacitybuilding of telecentre workers. It is expected that the curriculum would grow throughregular improvisations, adaptations and use by telecentre networks and organizations.This effort has resulted in the creation of four training modules on: EntrepreneurshipDevelopment, Grassroots Marketing, Grassroots Communication and Infomediary Skills.1.2 Research objectivesThe aim of the Training Commons case study is to understand and document theprocesses, practices, successes, and challenges of this initiative, and to assess its overallimpact on stakeholders that include the trainers, who use the curriculum for training, thetelecentre workers (or trainees) who participate in the trainings, and most importantly, theexternal open content community, which can potentially benefit from the lessons learned.Specifically, the Training Commons case study has explored three central themes: 1) itspeer production model, 2) user engagement around developing and improving thecurriculum, and 3) the concept of open content as understood by the Training Commonscommunity.1.3 MethodologyThe research was primarily exploratory in nature that helped to investigate the nature andscope of this emerging approach that is still evolving in terms of its methodology.It involved the following steps: 1. Conducting secondary research to understand the background processes. 2. Identifying the stakeholders to be interviewed from the Training Commons community, coordinator/s, reviewers, and users. 3. Developing structured questionnaires around the research themes, i.e., the peer production model, user engagement and concept of open to gather information from the identified stakeholders. Testing the questionnaire with one respondent from each group of stakeholders/ users and based on that improving the questionnaires. 4. Identifying telecentres in the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra states for field work. 5. Interviewing all the identified stakeholders and conducting field research in the identified areas. 6. Consolidating the data/ information collected under the three themes for analysis and interpretation, and preparing a report based on that.1 OERs are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have beenreleased under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Openeducational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests,software, and any other tools, materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge.http://www.hewlett.org/programs/education/oer (accessed June 5, 2008).Shipra Page 4 3/21/2013
  5. 5. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2The research tools used for data collection were in-depth one to one interview schedulesencouraging reflection prompts, and focus group discussions (FGDs) especially with thetrainees. The interviews with the module coordinators and the module authors lasted foralmost one hour or more on an average and helped to understand the various stages of theproject, the module development process and their opinions on the concept of open. Theinterviews were conducted ‘face to face’ as well as ‘on the phone’ and in some cases,they also required follow up interviews for some issues requiring further probe.The field visits were undertaken primarily to understand the ‘use’ and ‘user engagement’aspect of this research. It revealed that most of the trainees, who attended the TrainingCommons pilot workshops, have not seen the final curriculum and right now, it wasnot being used for training extensively. Therefore, the focus of the interview shifted tounderstanding the ‘user engagement’ in developing the modules rather than its ‘use’.The researcher also tried to find out the reasons for not using the modules.The data from the field was gathered through face to face interviews and FGDs lastingfor a minimum of one hour. The telecentre workers were quite enterprising and confidentrural youth willing to share facts very candidly and sometimes they just went on and ondiscussing several other aspects related to their telecentre business. These interviewsrevealed their opinion on the relevance of the areas covered for training; the content andthe language used in the training, the usefulness and application of the practices learntduring the pilot workshops in conducting their day to day business, etc.The analysis of data gathered from the secondary and primary sources is mainlyqualitative in nature. All the responses were synthesized in a summary matrix to avoidoverlapping and repetitions. The report primarily reflects an analysis of these findings.1.4 Limitations and ChallengesThe researcher has tried to be as objective as possible in interpreting and analyzing thedata and information collected. All the observations made in this report are substantiatedthrough appropriate references. The researcher has made due efforts to remain objectiveand accurate in interpreting and analyzing the facts. Still, the study suffers from a fewlimitations; with the time gap between the completion of the Training Commons projectand the beginning of this study being the most critical one.This study to document the process of curriculum development under the TrainingCommons Project was undertaken almost one year after the final modules were submittedto telecentre.org by the module authors. Simultaneous documentation of variousprocesses and practices at the time of project implementation would have added morevalue to it.This time gap manifested itself broadly as serious difficulty in locating and getting intouch with some of the key people associated with this project. By this time, a lot ofpeople, such as some of the module authors, regional training coordinators and telecentreworkers had left their respective organizations for better pursuits. Telecentre is an areaShipra Page 5 3/21/2013
  6. 6. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2that witnesses high rates of attrition. This impacted the study as well, and sometimes, itwas very difficult to trace people, especially the telecentre workers who had no telephonenumbers or email ids of their own. The list of participants (Training Commons PilotWorkshops) obtained from telecentre.org’s New Delhi office contained the telephonenumber and email ids of their respective coordinators and many of these people had alsoleft. Therefore, the most difficult part of the whole study was to locate the right peoplewho can help and guide the researcher to the telecentre workers who actually participatedin the Training Commons pilot workshops.Another limitation was to reach the telecentres and telecentre workers located in remoteareas. At some places the roads were so bad that it took hours to cross a stretch of 20kilometers through the dense forests of Madhya Pradesh near the Kanha National Park.Usually, during training workshops, all the telecentre workers assemble at a centrallocation from interior places and they are provided free boarding and lodging. Theresearcher was not able to offer any such incentives and had to visit them individuallyand record their opinion on the pilot workshop.The time gap also impacted the interviews with the telecentre workers, as they were notable to recall very clearly what kind of questions were asked during the workshops andwhat kind of suggestions they provided to the module authors. They had to be proddedagain and again; still they were not able to provide satisfactory answers. This is evident inthe summary matrix of responses from trainers and telecentre workers which runs intojust two pages, although the recording time is the longest for this group of interviewees.This was mainly because the researcher was introduced to them through their areamanagers and other high level officials. For the researcher, it was the most convenientand appropriate way to reach these people, but at times, it back-fired. The telecentreworkers often misunderstood the purpose of the interview although the researcher triedher best to convey the true objectives of the research at the very outset. This led to someof them getting off track and focusing more on their grievances all the time. They wantedthe researcher to act as a mediator between them and their higher authorities and conveytheir grievances and problems to them. The researcher had to remind them all the timethat she had no such intent or purpose. Sometimes, this also led to indifferent attitude andthe researcher had to skillfully share some common sense solutions (learnt on the waythrough talks with the regional managers and training coordinators) to pacify them.Another challenge was how to approach the Training Commons Community forinterviews. The researcher adopted the strategy of writing emails to all the selectedinterviewees conveying the objectives of the study and requesting them for a face to faceor telephonic interview. The project coordinators were very prompt in responding to thisrequest and they were the first to give an appointment for interview. This wasencouraging and the researcher waited for the rest of the community to reply. Butstrangely it did not happen! They had to be emailed again and when this did not work,she had to seek the help of the project coordinator, Ambika Sharma who telephoned thempersonally to cooperate. This was closely followed by telephone calls by the researcherand it worked wonders! They agreed for the interviews instantly. Again in some cases,Shipra Page 6 3/21/2013
  7. 7. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2although some of them agreed to send their responses by email, the researcher keptwaiting and reminding the concerned people. Nevertheless, most of the module authorswere very cooperative and in spite of being very busy and always on the move, all ofthem responded except for one person. Otherwise, it was a smooth sailing!II. Background2.1 The needThe need to conceive something as ambitious as the Training Commons lies in theimmense capacity building requirements of the National Alliance for Mission 2007:Every Village a Knowledge Centre (Mission 2007).2 Mission 2007 is the Indiantelecentre network comprising of organizations running telecentres;3 other Civil SocietyOrganizations (CSOs) and public and private institutions supporting it. At the outset, itspartners recognised that any telecentre or Information and Communication Technologiesfor Development (ICT4D) scale up requires a multitude of resources, infrastructure,connectivity options and other competencies. In the Mission 2007 parlance, theseprerequisites are called the ‘Five Cs’4 and refer to: connectivity (also appropriate accessdevices), content (and services which are appropriate for the local community), care andmanagement (of the telecentre), coordination (with various agencies providing servicesand content), and capacity building (of both the telecentre workers and the usercommunity).Capacity building was one of the foremost challenges faced by Mission 2007. To extendthe telecentre program to 600, 000 Indian villages, it required an equally huge number oftrained telecentre operators and good training materials to train them. There were somesporadic efforts in this direction by organizations, like M. S. Swaminathan ResearchFoundation (MSSRF), Drishtee Foundation, Development Alternatives (DA)’s TaraHaat,etc. But these training programs were catering to the specific needs of their telecentre2 The National Alliance for Mission 2007, now rechristened as the Grameen Gyan Abhiyan (GGA)that translates into English as Rural Knowledge Movement, was formally launched in July 2004 toconverge and synergise all the ongoing telecentre and ICT4D initiatives in India, so that collectively, theycan create a favourable policy environment, curtail the duplication of efforts and replicate telecentresuccess stories at the national level.3 A telecentre is a community centre that offers shared access to Information and CommunicationTechnologies (ICTs) for the purpose of community level development and poverty reduction… Theyare staffed by people who help the community use the equipment for a range of purposes, but especiallyfor improving its well-being, in terms of better education, health care, agriculture, and enterpriseopportunities. Telecentres are known by different terms such as telecottages, community e-centres,multipurpose community telecentres, multimedia community centres, village information shops, info-kiosks and community knowledge centres. Harris, Roger (2007) Telecentre 2.0: beyond pilotingtelecentres, APDIP e-Note 14/ 2007. Bangkok: UNDP-APDIP. http://www.apdip.net/apdipenote/14.pdf(accessed June 6, 2008).4 Initially, Mission 2007 identified seven areas that required attention to implement the telecentreprogramme at the national level. These were: connectivity; content; space applications; organization,management, monitoring and evaluation; training, capacity building and the election of fellows; resourcemobilization; and policy issues. Since some of these areas overlapped, Professor Swaminathan developedthe five ‘C’ formulae for Mission 2007 in consultation with other Mission 2007 stakeholders.Shipra Page 7 3/21/2013
  8. 8. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2workers and were not available in a structured format for use by other organisations.Moreover, they may not be suitable for the training needs of other organizations.Most of this training knowledge and skills were available with their trainers in a tacitformat that they constantly improved from training to training by incorporating examplesfrom real life situations. To deal with the challenges of capacity building, Mission 2007had already constituted the Jamshetji Tata National Virtual Academy for Rural Prosperity(NVA)5 and the Mission 2007 capacity building task force (a consortium of M2007stakeholders with experience in the field of capacity building and training contentdevelopment).2.2 The enabling environmentTherefore, nothing could have been timed more perfectly than the Training Commonsproject, supported by telecentre.org6 at a time when the Mission 2007 partners werecontemplating the capacity building of one million telecentre/ knowledge workers to manthe six hundred thousand prospective village knowledge centres or telecentres acrossIndian rural areas.Around the same time, telecentre.org was also strengthening its roots and Mission 2007provided it with an appropriate opportunity to contribute. Another external factor givingimpetus to conceptualizing the Training Commons project was the ‘Open/ CommonContent’7 movement, based on the ethos of collaborative content creation, free and easyaccessibility and adaptability.In this respect, “the objective (of Training Commons) was to bring together similarvoices and interests such as the NVA, M2007 Capacity Building Consortium and others5 The NVA was formed in August 2003 through the collaborative efforts of MSSRF and the TataTrust. It selects its fellows from among the local champions, who, regardless of their educational status (afew of them being only functionally literate) have shown leadership qualities and have dared to dosomething different to empower themselves and the community around them. They have also motivateddevelopment practioners to look at grassroots realities from their point of view and make such informationmore objective and unbiased. Since they are also the repositories of traditional knowledge, they arerecognized as the ‘grassroots academicians’ and honoured with NVA fellowship. Currently, the NVA istraining them to manage upcoming telecentres.6 telecentre.org is a collaborative social investment program implemented by the InternationalDevelopment Research Centre (IDRC), and supported by Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC),Microsoft and IDRC. telecentre.org was officially launched in November 2005 at the World Summit on theInformation Society in Tunis. (accessed June 6, 2008).7 Open content, a neologism coined by analogy with ‘open source’, describes any kind of creativework published in a format that explicitly allows copying and modifying of its information by anyone, notexclusively by a closed organization, firm or individual. As with the terms ‘open source’ and ‘freesoftware’, some open content materials can also be described as ‘free content’, although technically theydescribe different things. Another related term ‘common content’ is occasionally used to refer to CreativeCommons–licensed works… and ‘Open access’ refers to a special category of material, consisting of freelyavailable published peer-reviewed journal articles. Wikipedia contributors, ‘Open content,’ Wikipedia, TheFree Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Open_content&oldid=215513163 (accessedJune 5, 2008).Shipra Page 8 3/21/2013
  9. 9. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2to explore the possibilities for convergence into a single cohesive partnership. 8 And theprevailing common/ open content environment provided a mechanism to move thepartnership towards creating a common training curriculum for telecentre workers.2.3 Uniqueness of ‘Training Commons’ Therefore, while the “The timing was driven by the fact that in 2005, there was a great amount of scaling up plan enthusiasm and excitement about Mission 2007… I went to different under the Mission Mission 2007 conventions and shared the issues (around making the content 2007 umbrella open). Another factor driving it was that at that time, telecentre.org itself identified mass was new and was looking for ways to contribute (to telecentre networks around the world).” Mark Surman, Training Commons Project Initiatorscale training and capacity building oftelecentre workers as a prominent gap; the Training Commons endeavored to fill itthrough the open/ common content approach. It was conceived by Mark Surman duringhis tenure as the manager of International Development Research Centre’s telecentre.orgprogram. This project sought to develop a ‘Living (online) Curriculum’, with enoughscope for the content to evolve in an organic way to suit existing and futuristic skillrequirements of telecentre workers across regions. This curriculum was meant to beused to develop a cadre of trainers from among the telecentre workers who would thentrain others using it, and so on.The Training Commons is more akin to the OERs, the “Internet empowered worldwidecommunity effort to create an education commons.”9 In line with the ‘educationcommons’, it sought to develop ‘training commons’ for building the capacity oftelecentre workers. The Training Commons effort differs slightly from the OERs oreducation commons in terms of the nature of curriculum required for training and thetarget audience. It shares more affinity with the concept of ‘recurrent and lifelonglearning’, as it is not bound by any hierarchically structured and chronologically gradededucation system and is more oriented towards enhancing the life skills of the learners inseveral informal and formal ways. It sought to create a kind of ‘Grassroots MBA’ thatcould equip the telecentre managers with the necessary knowledge and skills to run andmanage the telecentres as a social enterprise, combining business with communitydevelopment.Moreover, for developing training commons, there was no formal curriculum orguidelines to refer to except the experience of some Mission 2007 partners and sometraining materials that they were using to train their telecentre workers. At the same time,the curriculum had to be developed keeping in mind the target audience, majority ofwhom are based in rural areas, and their educational attainments ranged from functionalliteracy to Masters’ or even higher. Even the telecentre models differed widely from eachother with regard to their objectives and services rendered to the community. Therefore,the content had to be derived from various sources and adapted and simplified to make itcomprehensible to the average telecentre worker running any telecentre model. All these8 Surman, Mark & Ambika Sharma (2006) Mission 2007 Training Commons: Interim Report,Telecentre.org.9 http://www.hewlett.org/programs/education/oer (accessed June 5, 2008).Shipra Page 9 3/21/2013
  10. 10. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2made the Training Commons project challenging and path breaking one. It tried to movethe Mission 2007 partners towards common curriculum development in a peer assisted,collaborative and participatory way, capitalising on their respective ground experiences.2.4 Vision and project goalsAs stated earlier, Training Commons sought to fillthe existing void in the telecentre manager’s “The broader goal (or vision of Training Commons) was to light a firecapacity building area. Its genesis lies in the need that would galvanise all the M2007for a holistic capacity building program for stakeholders … to train the milliontelecentre operators; a major gap that existed at that knowledge workers and initiate sometime. So, the specific project goal was to articulate concrete actions for that.” Markthe idea of developing Common Curriculum to the Surman, Training Commons Project InitiatorMission 2007 partners and then help them createsomething as the central curriculum in a collaborative and participatory way that could beused by all the Mission 2007 partners including the NVA. It was hoped that collaborationwould result in pollination of new ideas from all the Mission 2007 partners.Other related objectives of this project were to: a) Aggregate and refine the training content available with the M2007 partners and develop draft one of the curriculum on that basis. b) Test draft one of the curriculum with the user community, the knowledge workers (telecentre workers) in participatory pilot workshops and improve it with their help. c) Package it appropriately, make it available in local languages and share it with all M2007 partners for the skill enhancement of telecentre/ knowledge workers. d) Build a platform for continued distribution and sharing of the curriculum.III The ProcessThe process of realizing the vision and goals of the Training Commons project startedwith conceptualizing the vision document. It evolved along the way from workshop toworkshop and almost all the stakeholders contributed to it. It helped in translating theidea of Training Commons into a reality. Altogether, it included the following processes:3.1 Project conceptualization and designDuring the conceptualization and project design phase, telecentre.org played a key role inenvisioning the concept of Training Commons and articulating its purpose to the Mission2007 partners. All the Mission 2007 partner organizations having expertise in telecentreworkers’ training and capacity building participated in these workshops as jointvisionaries. This phase was somewhat longer than assumed and lasted from October 2005to March 2006. The main activities during the conceptualization and design phase werearticulating the vision of Training Commons to Mission 2007 partners; training needidentification; and practical scoping and planning exercises for project implementation.These were achieved through:Shipra Page 10 3/21/2013
  11. 11. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2a) Convening workshops and meetings with Mission 2007 partners: In this respect, theChennai workshop convened jointly by MSSRF and telecentre.org in October 2005 was alandmark. This participatory workshop was attended by trainers and a few heads oforganisations representing about sixteen Mission 2007 stakeholders. All of them weredirectly involved in setting up telecentres and training the telecentre workers.10 Duringthis workshop, Mark articulated the idea of developing common curriculum to train thetelecentre workers. The “participants shared existing training models, identified gaps anddeveloped a rough vision for the development of a common capacity buildingprogram.”11 He tried to draw in ideas from all the mission 2007 stakeholders, likeMSSRF, Drishtee Foundation, TaraHaat and incorporated these to enrich the first visiondocument that provided an overview of the Training Commons project and itsimplementation plan.Another milestone was crossed at the Agra workshop held from February 28 to March 2,2006. This workshop attempted to define the vision of Training Commons project andbuild a strong partnership to kick it off. 12 It led to significant goodwill and increasedwillingness on the part of Mission 2007 stakeholders to contribute content to the trainingcommons under mutually accepted terms.b) Curriculum mapping: At the same time, telecentre.org also commissioned acurriculum mapping study on the nature of content already available with the Mission2007 partners. The study concluded that “there is an abundance of curricula availablewith the partner organizations to train Knowledge Centre Managers. While someorganizations have not developed a structured, formal training curriculum, some havecome up with well-defined training materials, along with methods and diversifiedcontent/topics. Nonetheless, many of these training materials may be too generic whichmake them difficult to apply outside the project context, without some sort ofcustomizations.”13 The curriculum mapping exercise was instrumental in identifyingtraining materials that the Training Commons can build upon. For example, the currententrepreneurship development module created by the consultant/ trainer from WorldCorps India (WCI) under the Training Commons curriculum derives a lot from their ownEntrepreneurship Development skills program.c) Identifying the training areas: These workshops, meetings, curriculum mappingcoupled with Mission 2007 partners’ ground experiences also helped in identifying thenature of training required by the telecentre workers, and providing a vision to implementthe project. The curriculum mapping study identified four areas- communitydevelopment, services and content, entrepreneurship training, and sharpening of10 Read Mark Surman’s blog at:http://commonspace.typepad.com/commonspace/2005/09/the_power_of_ci.html;http://commonspace.typepad.com/commonspace/2005/09/community_and_c.html (accessed June 6, 2008)11 Surman, Mark (2005). Mission 2007 Training Commons: Curriculum, Training and OnlineCommunity. Proposed Project Overview.12 Read Mark’s Blog athttp://commonspace.typepad.com/commonspace/2006/03/finding_a_commo.html (accessed June 6, 2008)13 Sah, Gitanjali (2006) Mission 2007 Training Commons: Report on existing content to trainknowledge centre managers. New Delhi: telecentre.orgShipra Page 11 3/21/2013
  12. 12. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2communication and marketing skills as the most essential for training telecentre workers.Further on, during the Agra workshop, Training Commons community finalized fiveareas to be included in the telecentre managers’ training curriculum. These were: a) grassroots marketing b) entrepreneurship c) grassroots communication d) infomediary skills and e) community development14d) Partnership building: As reflected by the above discussion, the partnership buildingprocess was largely inclusive where all the stakeholders were invited to participate. Thesurvey carried out by Gitanjali Sah also helped in identifying stakeholders to some extent.It surveyed all the organizations having capacity building programs and gauged theirwillingness to share their content, their capacity to contribute, etc. There was no formalprocess in place for building the Training Commons community. The following criteriadetermined the participation of the organizations in the project: a) The organizations should be running/ managing telecentre networks (with a critical mass of telecentres and experience of at least 2 -3 years). b) They should have some kind of training programme in place for their telecentre workers. c) The module authors designated by these organizations should be directly involved in training related work and also have some understanding of the curriculum development process. d) They should have a substantive understanding of the topic (e.g., Grassroots Marketing or Entrepreneurship) as a concept for creating a module on it e) And, most importantly, the organizations should be willing to share their learning/ experiences as part of the development process and finally should be willing to share the module so developed under the Creative Commons license.The original implementation plan was guided by the principles of collaborativecurriculum development wherein module creation in each training area would be led byone lead organization with other organizations serving as a reference group. It wassupposed to be created entirely online in a ‘wiki’ manner by the Training Commonscommunity. This was the ideal implementation plan, which underwent somemodifications when the actual implementation began.3.2 Project implementationThe actual implementation phase started from May/ June 2006 with the appointment of aproject coordinator. But it also drew upon the partnership building efforts carried outduring the conceptualization and design phase. Due to several constraints, time being oneof the major one during the implementation phase, the original implementation plan waspartly modified to address emergent situations. During this phase, one of the most crucial14 A training coordinator from MSSRF, Nancy Anabel, was selected to write the communitydevelopment module, but it could not be produced because she had to proceed on maternity leave and theavailable time was too short for the other designated person to understand and work on it. Therefore, onlyfour modules were finally produced under the project.Shipra Page 12 3/21/2013
  13. 13. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2realizations was that none of the training materials available with the partners was in awell structured form as assumed. Except the module on entrepreneurship, which wassomewhat presentable and was the one used for the first pilot workshop; for others, theauthors had to work from scratch. Therefore, time was a critical factor impacting theproject in myriad manners.a) Revisiting the project goals: Due to some unavoidable circumstances, like longercommunication gaps, changes in leadership, shortage of time and so on, the project goalswere revisited during the implementation phase and some of the objectives, likecollaborative authorship of the modules was replaced by individual authorship. The timeand effort required for engaging the wider Training Commons community andconsolidating the partnership for the project (explained in detail in the following section)also hampered the realization of its original goals and reduced participation to only fivefrom the original fifteen organizations. Hence, the goal of developing an online platformwhere the lead and the supporting organizations would continuously contribute, share,modify and refine the content was no longer considered relevant for such a small groupand consequently dropped. Another reason for dropping this idea was that the trainersfrom the participating organizations were not accustomed to working on an onlineplatform. They would have required some training to actualize this.Therefore, at this point in time because of all the above mentioned factors, the focusshifted on producing the Training Commons curriculum rather than struggling with theissues of collaboration and creating an online platform. Mark Surman’s comments aptlyelucidate this point, “I don’t think that the goals of the project changed overtime, but there was a tension that I also saw in other collaborative curriculum projects, the tension between the goal of producing a useful, good quality piece of curriculum in a timely manner and the goal of collaboration and cross fertilization among the partners… These goals were struggling with each other most of the time…”15b) Partnership consolidation: Partnership building efforts carried out during theconceptualization and design phase were followed by partnership consolidation forimplementation. So far, especially during the workshops and meetings, the vision ofTraining Commons was communicated mainly to the trainers because they had theknowledge, skills and the ability to develop the curriculum. Therefore, they were thetarget audience for partnership building. In fact, only a few heads of the organizationsparticipated in these meetings and workshops. Thus, at the stage of implementation, thecoordinators adopted a personalized approach to consolidate the partnership with thetrainers for individually authoring the modules under the Training Commons. Theyleveraged upon their past and present professional and personal associations with thesetrainers.Along with engaging with the trainers, these discussions were taken to another level toget the consent of the heads of their organizations. It was essential as this project wasgoing to place some additional responsibilities on the trainers’ shoulders along with their15 Interview with Mark Surman, April 22, 2008.Shipra Page 13 3/21/2013
  14. 14. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2day to day professional activities. Therefore, it was crucial to share the vision of theproject with the heads of participating organisations and efforts were made to convincethem of the value of participating in this project. Their consent and support was criticalfor kicking off the project. This process took its own time and except two of the moduleauthors, others joined at different intervals in the life span of the project. The followingobservation made by one of the coordinators sums up the partnership consolidationprocess: “(When) we found authors for two of the modules, namely, Sagarika and Muthu, we realized that we quickly needed authors for the other three as well. At that stage we adopted the strategy of engaging with potential partners ‘one on one’... The internal team (consisting of) Mark, Shaddy, I and Stephen to some extent, went about the task like any other project partners’ selection exercise… (based on our cumulative knowledge and experience of who were the players in the field). We did not zero down to one organization at that time; there were sets of four or five in each of the subject area domains. Then we engaged with them individually at various levels and kept going back and forth.” Ambika Sharma, Training Commons Coordinatorc) Formalizing the partnership: Finally, five organizations, NASSCOM Foundation,World Corps India (WCI), MSSRF, DA’s TaraHaat and Plan International16 joined theTraining Commons project and the training personnel from these organisations steppedup to take upon the responsibility of creating the modules in the identified areas. Thepartnership was formalized by entering into contractual agreements with them. Thisagreement included their terms of reference, time schedule, deliverables andremuneration for their professional time invested in module creation. The contractedtrainers were also paid for field testing the draft modules.d) Redefining collaboration: As mentioned earlier, the original implementation plan, asenvisioned by Mark Surman and Mission 2007 partners, was highly collaborative andparticipatory in nature. The creation of each module under the curriculum was supposedto be led by a lead organization, with several others serving as reference group andconstantly reviewing and improving them. It’s participatory and bottom up characteristicswere supposed to come from constant engagement of telecentre trainers and workers inthe development of these modules. But the way collaboration manifested itself wassomewhat different. During the implementation, the Training Commons core community formation wentthrough different ups and downs. The goodwill built during the Chennai and Agraworkshops could not be sustained during this period because of longer communicationgaps and some of the partners withdrew from the project and the reference group becamequite weak. The coordinators tried their best, but they were not successful in engagingthis group. At this stage, the focus shifted on producing the curriculum and the scope ofcollaboration was compromised. It was limited to the module authors and thecoordinators throughout the module development phase. At a later stage, when the16 Plan International was the last organization to join the M2007 core community. It works mainlywith children and has no previous experience of training the telecentre managers. But building trainingmodules on grassroots communication based on their integrated media approach was a good experience forthe module author. For more information on Plan International, log on to www.planinternational.org.Shipra Page 14 3/21/2013
  15. 15. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2modules were being reviewed and value added, the scope of collaboration was extendedto include the telecentre workers and trainers, reviewers, editors and graphic designer.IV The PracticesThe modifications in the implementation plan also impacted the practices adopted forproject management, execution and curriculum development. These were contextualizedto the emergent needs of the project. These became more personalized relying more andmore on face to face interactions between the contributors and the coordinators; increasedemphasis on individual authorship and a collegial approach to sharing responsibilities.4.1 Project management and executionThe distinguishing features of the Training Commons project management and executionare:a) Collegial approach to responsibility sharing: The coordinator/s adopted a collegialapproach for project management with devolution of roles and responsibilities equallyamong the members of the Training Commons team. Since this project was an additionalresponsibility for the authors apart from their day to day organizational work, they had tomaintain a perfect balance between these two. Moreover, as stated earlier, two of themodule authors joined the project at a somewhat later stage. So, it was important to bringthem at par with the others, and the coordinator helped them a lot in this. All of theauthors were provided with enough resilience to evolve their working style and contributeaccording to their own timelines. Nevertheless, the team tried to stick to the majordeadlines.b) Personalized coordination: During the curriculum development phase, projectcoordination was based largely on personalized interaction with the Training Commonsteam. These included face to face discussions, emails and frequent telecons between themodule authors and the coordinator. These helped in sharing their challenges, seekingsolutions, motivating the Training Commons team and in sustaining their interestthroughout the project. It also kept them updated on the progress made by each one ofthem, which in turn served as a motivation.c) Volunteer spirit of the contributors: The contribution of the module authors was nottechnically voluntary. They were paid for their professional time and also for conductingthe field tests.17 But their volunteer spirit drove them to undertake several otherresponsibilities that they were not bound to do under their contract. It was because of thecamaraderie between them that they reviewed each other’s modules and helped out eachother. Almost all of them had a background in content development and training. Theywere aware of the value of the project and were too keen to contribute to it and to sharetheir experience and expertise. As they went deeper into the project, they themselvesbecame interested in coming up with the final product, the curriculum, which is amplyreflected in the observations of one of the module authors: “I was involved in this project right from the beginning when the first workshop (in Chennai) was conducted and the concept of training commons was floated... My17 As per the contracts signed by the module authors. Available with telecentre.org, New Delhi.Shipra Page 15 3/21/2013
  16. 16. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2 association with telecentre.org, IDRC and the global cause for which the curriculum was being developed based on the principles of shared learning… prompted me to be a part of it.”18d) Individual authorship based on subject area expertise: There were no hard and fastrules for the division of labour and roles, as by the time the Training Commons projectentered the implementation phase, these were predefined on the basis of the moduleauthor’s expertise and background. For example, Muthu Kumar, a consultant with WorldCorps India (WCI), had been imparting the entrepreneurship skills to the telecentreworkers for long. So, he shouldered the responsibility of developing the EntrepreneurshipDevelopment Program (EDP) module. As noted by him: “One of the strengths of WCI model was its strong thrust on Entrepreneurship… being involved in the various stages—from identifying, training and setting up the centres, I had a good understanding of what entrepreneurial competencies are required for telecentre operators. This coupled with my background in Behavioural Sciences and Management helped me to fine-tune the EDP module.”19Likewise, Kannan from Plan International was already developing modules on grassrootscommunication for the ‘amazing kids’ project where they were using the integratedmedia approach to train children and use the same for community development. He sawthe Training Commons project as an opportunity to apply an improved version of thismethodology to train the telecentre workers. Additionally, his background and interest incontent development helped him to contribute to the grassroots communication modulefor this project.20Surender Rana also, who developed the grassroots marketing module, was involved inconducting the training of telecentre managers and operators and also managed ‘on thefield’ operations for TaraHaat. So, he had a good grasp of the elements of training andtraining curriculum development, specifically, what is required to be included in thecurriculum to make it suitable and beneficial for the telecentre managers.21 So, themodule authors contributed in the area in which they had the required experience andexpertise. The same was true of Sagarika and Nancy, the other two module authors, aswell.4.2 Curriculum DevelopmentThe Training Commons team adopted a peer assisted, collaborative and participatoryapproach to develop the modules under the curriculum, although the last two attributes ofthe project were somewhat compromised. The main steps adopted for moduledevelopment varied slightly from module to module. For example, the content for theEDP module was already there and WCI was using it to train telecentre managers. So,they were the first to come up with a draft module on EDP. On the whole, moduledevelopment progressed through the following stages:18 Interview with Surender Rana on May 3, 2008.19 Interview with Muthu Kumar, World Corps India on June 2, 2008.20 Interview with Kannan on May 9, 200821 Interview with Surender Rana on May 3, 2008.Shipra Page 16 3/21/2013
  17. 17. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2a) Evaluating and presenting the available module: Since the areas of training werealready determined, the first step in the direction of module development was to share thetraining materials available with the Training Commons community. These wereevaluated and the gaps were identified. In some cases, where there were no modules orcontent to refer to, the module authors did some background research and literaturereview to get an overview of the training area.b) Revalidating training requirements/ need assessment: Since all of the moduleauthors, except Kannan, had a telecentre background, they had a good understanding ofthe expectations and requirements of telecentre workers and even that of those who weresetting up the telecentres for the first time, the first generation telecentre workers. Still,they revalidated the training requirements with the help of the telecentre managers. Thisknowledge helped them in deciding the content of the module, and the expressions,examples and language to be used in the modules.c) Content development: Content development was a participatory process. Although,these were written exclusively by the module authors, they were supported by theircolleagues who had training and content development background. The TrainingCommons coordinator worked closely with the authors at this point in time. They weregiven complete flexibility in deciding the structure/ outline of the module, its content, etcso that they can pour out all their experience. At this stage, the training modules differedwidely from each other in terms of their structure and template. On an average, the draftswent through two to three iterations to achieve the required format and content.d) Designing the module template: In the beginning, the module authors followed theirown structures or formats, but at a later stage, it became imperative to design a commontemplate to provide some uniformity to the modules. Therefore, they evolved a basictemplate for the modules and all the authors were required to follow it and fit theircontent into it. Once this uniformity was achieved, the modules were shared with theTraining Commons coordinators and other key people involved in the project to seektheir suggestions. The modules were again improved based on this feedback.e) Field testing: Once the draft modules were ready, these were field tested among agroup of selected telecentre workers/ trainers to obtain their opinion about the content,the terms, concepts, expressions and examples used, the language and even the trainingdelivery methods. These pilot workshops were conducted at strategic locations and thetelecentre workers/ trainers gave a lot of practical suggestions to enhance the utility of themodules for the average grassroots trainers. The feedback received from these workshopswas used to improve them.f) Peer review: Then, a peer review workshop was convened at the IDRC, New Delhioffice to discuss and critique the improved versions of the modules. It was an opportunityfor the module authors, coordinators and some invited experts to review each moduleminutely. The peer review workshop was followed by a ‘all partners’ meet where themodule authors and the project coordinators were joined by the heads of the participatingorganizations, some curriculum development experts from Indira Gandhi National OpenShipra Page 17 3/21/2013
  18. 18. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2University (IGNOU) and other external consultants. The modules were further discussedand the invited experts provided inputs on each of the modules. These helped in tracingout and filling the gaps in the modules.g) Expert review, value addition & online launch of the curriculum: This stageincluded more reviews by curriculum development and telecentre experts. They reviewedthe content, language, and examples used in the modules from the telecentre lens andsuggested appropriate modifications, inclusion of examples from real life telecentresituations, and illustrations to explain the concepts, and so on.22 They also suggestedincorporating more uniformity to the modules. These led to further improvisations andthe modules also underwent language editing. Around this time, a graphic designconsultant was hired to add value to the modules from the design and packagingperspective. The modules were further reviewed by another consultant, who fine tunedthem and also added an introductory manual and trainer’s note to it. 23 Finally the moduleswere launched under the Creative Commons License in the public domain on March 23/24 2008 as draft version 1 of the Training Commons. The purpose is to invite feedbackfrom the organizations, trainers and others who would use them.4.3 Support mechanismsSince the idea of creating an online platform for content creation could not materialize,the support mechanisms provided to the authors were mostly offline in addition to verysimple online tools like mailing list and emails. These included:a) Face to face personalized interactions: “In the Training Commons, considerableMost of the content development process recognition needs to be attributed to personalrelied heavily on personalized interactions, relations, not only between me and theselike face to face meetings and telecons people (authors), but also amongst them.between the module authors and the Training (They) really respect each other’s work. When you see your peers putting in so muchCommons coordinator where they discussed of time and effort, you are tempted to do theeach and every aspect of content development same thing…” Ambika Sharma, Trainingvery openly. These interactions were held on a Commons coordinator.regular basis throughout the project life span,but more so during the content writing phase when they shared their initial thoughtsaround the training areas.b) Peer support: The Training Commons team shared great team spirit since all theauthors and the coordinators were known to each other and some of them had alsoworked together in the past. They constantly reviewed and critiqued each other’s workand provided feedback for fine-tuning it. Since they were working in the same field, butwith drastically different telecentre models, they considered it as a great opportunity tolearn from each other and enrich their knowledge.22 Prem Kumar, Sweety & Subbiah Arunachalam (2007) Reviewers’ Comments, telecentre.org,New Delhi.23 Reddy, Usha (2008) Training Commons Manual: Final Report, telecentre.org, New Delhi.Shipra Page 18 3/21/2013
  19. 19. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2c) Administrative support: They received good support from the administrativeperspective as well. telecentre.org facilitated all the consequent meetings and workshopsfor the team. In addition to facilitating meetings and workshops and working closely withthe module authors when writing the modules, the Training Commons coordinator alsoaccompanied them to all the field testing locations and motivated the trainers to providesuggestions.d) Financial support: The authors received financial support from telecentre.org forcontributing to the Training Commons project and for conducting all the field tests. Theseincluded all the costs incurred for convening the pilot workshops (that lasted for aminimum of two days), like logistics and boarding and lodging of participating grassrootstrainers and telecentre workers.e) Support from participating organizations: The respective organizations of the moduleauthors not only seconded them temporarily to work on the Training Commons project,but also provided support and encouragement throughout the project. They also receivedcontinued help and feedback from their colleagues. They helped in developing themodules as well as in facilitating the entire field testing with the telecentre workers andtrainers.f) Online tools: Since it was a small team consisting of the module authors and thecoordinator and the authorship of the modules was also decided to be individual ratherthan group, they relied on very basic online tool, such as a Gmail group mailing list.Through this tool, the authors shared some of the earliest versions of the modules andalso made sure that there was no overlapping of content and they remained focused totheir area. Another important online communication and knowledge sharing channel wasregular emails between the authors and the coordinators. These were helpful in resolvingproblems, and motivating the authors to stick to the deadlines.4.4 User engagementAs the project revolved around the principles of collaboration and participation, userengagement was intrinsic to the whole process of content development. As originallyenvisaged, the users or the trainers and telecentre workers were supposed to play an equaland key role in content development to make it more relevant to the user community.Once the draft modules were ready, they were field tested. All the authors tested theirmodules with their respective telecentres workers. Plan International was the onlyorganization that had no telecentre program, so they tested their module with thetelecentre workers of TaraHaat.a) Stages of user engagementThe project incorporated user engagement at two stages:-i) Mission 2007 Grassroots Consultation: The first pilot workshop with the NVAFellows was organized quiet early on in the life span of the Training Commons project.It was held in Delhi on 21-22 August 2006 to gauge the effectiveness and/ orappropriateness of existing curriculum and the training delivery methods in the area ofEntrepreneurship. During this workshop, the participating telecentre trainers/ operatorsShipra Page 19 3/21/2013
  20. 20. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2validated its need and appropriateness.24 In a way, this workshop provided an insight intothe training needs of the telecentre trainers and operators and localization of thecurriculum to make it more comprehensible to them. While it provided food for thoughtto improve and localize the available content on entrepreneurship, it encouraged othermodule authors to work on the draft versions of their respective modules.ii) Pilot testing of the draft versions: The next field testing started once the draft versionsof the modules were ready. The Infomediary Skills module was tested during a two dayworkshop held at Hyderabad on 29- 30 January 2007, and later at Konark in Orissa andAhmedabad in Gujarat. It tried to assess the relevance of the existing content and explorethe kind of content it should contain, based on the feedback provided by the telecentretrainers and operators. The Hyderabad workshop, the first of a series of similarworkshops, basically concentrated on motivating the participants to prescribe the kind ofmaterial they would require so that they are able to conduct similar training forknowledge centre personnel later.Similarly, TaraHaat, Plan International and WCI organized pilot workshops at theirtelecentres in different states to test the Grassroots Marketing, GrassrootsCommunication and EDP modules, respectively. TaraHaat conducted training workshopsat different locations like Bhopal, Lucknow, Ranchi and Raipur. Nearly 100/ 200telecentre instructors and operators attended these workshops. Several gaps identifiedduring the workshop helped them to improve the modules. WCI held workshops withtheir trainers at Chennai in Tamilnadu and at Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh.b) Trainees’ opinion on the trainingi) Trainees’ background: An analysis of the participants list available with TrainingCommons project coordinators and on the field interaction with the telecentre trainers andoperators revealed that those participating in the workshops comprised a mix ofexperienced and first generation telecentre trainers and operators. They were drawn fromdiverse backgrounds with different levels of education and running different telecentremodels. For some of them, who joined the telecentres very recently, this was their firsttraining.ii) Nature of past training: In the past, training was provided in very specific areasrelated to telecentre operations so that the telecentre workers were able to carry out day today telecentre work. For example, the TaraHaat instructors and trainers were trained onthe basics of how to run the computer literacy and diploma courses at their centres.Similarly, the training program of NASSCOM Foundation centered on impartingknowledge on telecentres, their functions and relevance for the local community. Theywere also trained on how to mobilize and sensitize the community to use the telecentres.iii) Response to the Training Commons training: For most of them, the trainingimparted under the Training Commons workshop, whether on grassroots marketing,grassroots communication, infomediary skills or EDP, was a new kind of training24 telecentre.org Newsletter - October 2006Shipra Page 20 3/21/2013
  21. 21. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2altogether. Therefore, when they were trained on how to market their services and how tocounsel the prospective students to enroll for their computer courses, they found it veryrelevant for increasing enrollment at their centres and making these telecentres profitableenterprises. They were already facing stiff competition from the local IT institutes, run byinexperienced people who were charging lesser fee per course compared to them. Thiswas an important issue and had led to the early mortality of a few telecentres becausethey could not survive the local competition. They also appreciated the training deliverymethods that involved PowerPoint presentations, role play and other interactivetechniques.iv) Feedback on the training: Most of them provided very valuable feedback on thetraining, which helped the module authors to modify the content. These were generallyrelated to the language and content. They wanted the language to be simple and thecontent to be made available primarily in local languages to widen its reach. They alsowanted the modules to be well illustrated to explain the theoretical concepts and terms insimple ways. During the Hyderabad workshop on infomediary modules, the participantssuggested the incorporation of case studies of successful knowledge centres andgrassroots experiences in the modules; explanation of some basic theoretical concepts,such as definition of infomediary skills; modules to be made available in local languages;inclusion of audio-visual aids while training; sharing of video clippings of prior trainingsor life experiences. 25v) Application of training in day to day work: The trainers shared that some of thetelecentre operators have already started applying the training in their everyday telecentreoperations. One of them started counseling the students and their parents, which hewasn’t doing earlier because he didn’t know the techniques of counseling. Thus he wasable to convince them of the importance of TaraHaat and Microsoft certification and itsvalue in comparison to other local IT courses.26 Another one, working on the marketingideas received during the training, offered free access to examination results declaredonline to all the students in his community. This way, he attracted a crowd of youngstersand was able to translate this effort into more students for his telecentre.27vi) Impact of training on their ability to train others: As stated earlier, since theparticipants were drawn from various backgrounds, it became obvious during the pilotworkshops that the target audience needs to be appropriate if they want to focus ondeveloping a cadre of the master trainers. For such training, only programme team shouldbe invited and not telecentre workers because the present curriculum fulfills their needsthe best. It is more oriented towards training the trainers rather than the learners. Anoverwhelming outcome of these pilot workshops was the number of persons showinginterest in becoming volunteers. The participants were keen to help in designing the25 NASSCOM Foundation (2007) Training Commons’ Infomediary Skills Module: Report onworkshop for master trainers. NASSCOM Foundation, New Delhi26 Interview with Sauveer Shukla, TaraHaat telecentre Centre Head and Instructor, LakhimpurKheri, Uttar Pradesh on May 20, 2008.27 Interview with Araj Jaiswal, TaraHaat telecentre Centre Head and Instructor, Sausar, MadhyaPradesh on May 27, 2008.Shipra Page 21 3/21/2013
  22. 22. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2module as well as in imparting the training. But due to several constraints, theirengagement could not be sustained on a regular basis.4.5 Relevance of Training Commons curriculum for the trainers:The study has revealed that the curriculum developed under the Training Commonsproject is more suitable for experienced and well educated trainers, like regional trainingcoordinators, who are well qualified and already possess some understanding oftelecentre managers’ training and training requirements. The Training Commons servesas a good reference book for them from which they can extract relevant content andframe their own training programs. They can adapt the content into PPTs or package it inany suitable way for training delivery.But it may not be suitable for the grassroots trainers for several reasons: language beingone of the barriers, as currently it is available only in English language. Secondly, thegrassroots trainers are more accustomed to imparting training through ‘ready to use’training tool books, PPTs and other materials not exceeding two/ three pages. Even aftermuch encouragement, even those proficient in English are reluctant to read thecurriculum that runs into approximately 280 pages and is too theoretical and textual fortheir understanding.During the pilot workshops also where the curriculum was tested for the relevance of thetraining areas included in it and its content/ concepts, the module authors developed PPTsand other interactive ways of delivering the training based on the draft modules. Themodules in their pure form were never introduced to the grassroots trainers and telecentreoperators. And, simplicity of the content and concepts and inclusion of real life examples,something they can relate to, was an overwhelming demand to make these more suitablefor the grassroots trainers.As suggested by the Training Commons reviewers and also through interaction with thetelecentre operators, this curriculum may not serve the purpose of self learning. Majorityof the telecentre operators who participated in the pilot workshops found the trainingdelivery to be very interesting and also validated the need for such training, but most ofthem found the language and concepts somewhat difficult to comprehend. Therefore,their suggestions centred around toning down these aspects of the curriculum. It was thetrainers’ training skills and training delivery methodology that was much appreciatedby the workshop participants. The curriculum would have benefited them the most if theywere engaged in deciding the content of the curriculum and its development right fromthe beginning as envisaged in the original plan and as being practiced by organisationslike ESPLAI in Spain and Colnodo in Columbia.V The Concept of OpenThe concept of open as understood by the Training Commons coordinators and authorsresonated its global definition. But it underwent some regional contextualization whenapplied to the Indian scenario, especially while conveying the idea and consolidatingpartnership for Training Commons. The Training Commons community understood thisShipra Page 22 3/21/2013
  23. 23. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2concept more in terms of sharing and collaboration rather than making their years ofinvestment in training and capacity building open for all without due recognition for theirhard work, time and money. Its regional contextualization also implied that it is conveyedin a different manner to the participating organizations.5.1 Defining open content:To the Training Commons coordinators and module authors, open content refers tocontent that is open and free for people to access; it is open and free for them to modify, change and improve; and it is “… open content means that it is open and free for people to open and free to be shared access… it is free for them to modify and change and improve… and distributed. Specifically, and it is free to be distributed… (It) has the potential to create a the Training Commons virtual cycle through which the material gets richer and richer … One additional thing in the Training Commons vision (of open project implied openness in content) is that it is created in a collaborative way. It is not a part content, which means that the of the minimum definition of open content... (but) the Training content has to be generic Commons had a very conscious process of collaboration.” Mark enough to be contextualized Surman, Training Commons project initiator according to local needs through adaptations,modifications and constant improvements. It should be open in format, i.e., the format inwhich it is available in the public domain, should be user friendly and easilydownloadable; and it should be open to access so that anybody anywhere in the world canuse it without any restrictions. ‘Sharing’ and ‘collaboration’ are intrinsic parts of theTraining Commons understanding of open content. It sought to create open content in acollaborative and bottom up way to make it sharable across national boundaries andtelecentre networks.5.2 Open content as understood by the Training Commons communityThe concept of open was not alien to the Mission 2007 partners as well. Mission 2007itself was founded on the principles of sharing knowledge, content, expertise andresources. That’s one of the reasons why all the partners joined Mission 2007. It isdefined as the ‘coalition of the concerned’; they are there because they are concernedabout scaling up telecentres and everyone wants to share. The Training Commons projectprovided its partners with an opportunity to share their experience in capacity building oftelecentre managers. They were already working collaboratively on this issue through theNVA and the Mission 2007 capacity building task force. As noted by BasheerhamadShadrach, Sr. Prog Officer, telecentre.org & responsible Officer, Training Commonsproject, “The concept of open was prevalent everywhere, particularly, when it comes to the (telecentre) networks that we are building. The idea of building these networks is not just to bring in people, but bring people with knowledge (to share)… this concept of networking is not just online or offline events, but also (implies) a collaborative style. So, anything that we want to do under that network umbrella, whether it is Mission 2007 or BTN or Phil CeC Net, the idea is to collaborate, help each other and share their resources, content and so on. That’s where the whole concept of open is founded.”The curriculum mapping exercise carried out by Gitanjali Sah also mentions that “Themost attractive component of this project for the participants is its holistic approachShipra Page 23 3/21/2013
  24. 24. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2towards a concerted effort for formulating and implementing a common curriculum withdiverse topics on developing ideal Kiosk/Knowledge Centre Managers. It is felt thatmaking the curriculum available in one platform for all ICT4D players to share and use,would make curriculum customization easier based on gender, culture, local languageand individual specific needs.”28 But they wanted to work out the right terms of referenceto ensure that everybody was obligated to contribute equally. Therefore, the Mission2007 partners were not averse to the concept of open, but they had certain apprehensions.They wanted this content to be accessible to the CSOs only, not to the profit makingorganizations. They did not want any organization to misuse the openness of the contentand make money out of it (Surender Rana).5.3 Communicating the concept: “give one & get back three”The Chennai and Agra workshops played a key role in communicating the concept ofopen to the prospective Training Commons project partners and at that time, majority ofthem were in agreement with the idea. It was only towards the stage of projectimplementation when the coordinators started engaging partners for contributing to theproject that they encountered some difficulty, especially with the heads of theorganisations. Earlier, during the Chennai and Agra workshops, Training Commonsproject invited only the trainers and other people associated with content developmentand training. Because of their background and experience all these people saw value inthis project and were willing to participate.But there was some resistance when the project started rolling, especially from somedecision/ policy makers of the participating organizations. They had invested a lot oftime, resources and effort in putting together the training manuals. They didn’t want to letgo of their years of experience and expertise so easily, particularly since some of themwere running telecentres as social enterprises on a franchise basis and earning revenue fortheir organizations.So, first of all, the coordinator/s had to instill the value of this project for their respectiveorganizations to overcome their resistance and then, show them the wider picture, that ofthe value of sharing across telecentre networks and geographical boundaries. They had torealize that they were receiving more than what they were actually sharing with others.Consequently, they didn’t feel threatened or vulnerable. The following observationsubstantiates this point, “…very early on, it struck as a give and take format operating under the principle of ‘I give one, I get three’… In fact, by the end, people realized that by contributing one module, they were, in turn, getting three, which (means) a wealth of information coming from organizations who have expertise in that area. Another way of overcoming the resistance was to show them the larger picture that you are the first movers and shakers in that space… that they could be the lead institutions in furthering the capacity building work.” Ambika Sharma, Training Commons coordinator5.4 The Success28 Sah, Gitanjali (2006) Mission 2007 Training Commons: Report on existing content to trainknowledge centre managers. New Delhi: telecentre.org.Shipra Page 24 3/21/2013
  25. 25. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2a) The final product, the curriculum: The most positive outcome of the whole processof creating Training Commons is that finally there is something tangible in hand in theform of the curriculum, which are of value to all Mission 2007 partners and othertelecentre networks as well. The curriculum deals exclusively with the capacity buildingof grassroots telecentre workers across regions, models and approaches. Now, there issomething in which all the participating organizations can take pride.b) Providing a platform to share: The Mission 2007 partners were provided with a platform to share their content, experience “…the original goal was to create a platform where people can share their content… by the and expertise and were encouraged to virtue of sharing, people can reduce a lot of cost come together. It introduced them to the involving content creation and packaging…” mechanisms of bringing together ideas on Basheerhamad Shadrach, Sr. Prog Officer, capacity building of telecentre workers telecentre.org & Responsible Officer, Training from different Mission 2007 partners Commons project subscribing to different telecentre modelsand approaches, and leveraging upon this accumulated knowledge to develop the firstbuilding blocks that other people can use and further build upon.c) Sense of collaboration: Another positive outcome has been the sense of collaborationamong the core contributors, the module authors and the nature of the process of creatingit. This process was collaborative, from the ground up and participatory wherein TrainingCommons partners shared their ideas and improved upon inputs from peers, thegrassroots workers and trainers and experts. The kind of camaraderie these people sharedwas remarkable and, to some extent, it made up for the lack of collaboration from thewider Training Commons community. It is because of the sense of collaboration that theyremained together through the process patiently and achieved results collectively.d) Incorporating experiential learning: These training modules have been developedbased on experiential learning that the module authors acquired while supervising andmanaging their telecentre networks. These learnings were incorporated in the modulesand have added to their richness and usefulness for the telecentre trainers and workers.5.5 Future prospects of Training Commons:The Training Commons Curriculum was made available in the public domain on 23/ 24March 2008. It is launched as the Draft Version 1 of the Training Commons and includesa feedback template to invite suggestions from telecentre practioners and activists acrossthe globe. These suggestions will help in further improving the modules and making itmore suitable for the average telecentre trainer and practioner.a) Curriculum adoption by participating organizations:Discussion with the training coordinators of organizations like TaraHaat, NASSCOMFoundation and World Corps India has revealed that, to some extent, the adoption of theTraining Commons curriculum is determined by:a) Organisations’ existing telecentre operators’ training programs;b) Availability of trained trainers;Shipra Page 25 3/21/2013
  26. 26. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2c) The nature of their telecentre model (entrepreneurial, social entrepreneurial orcommunity based) and;d) The kind of services these telecentres are providing to the community.For example, the TaraHaat advocates the entrepreneurial model and their telecentres areprimarily providing computer education under the Microsoft Unlimited PotentialProgram in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh (Indian states). It is more like a businessenterprise for the person who is running it. Therefore, to make it profitable for theoperator, the emphasis of their training has been on how to run and market this program.On the other hand, NASSCOM Foundation endorses the social entrepreneurial modelcombining business with community development. Therefore, telecentres under theNASSCOM Foundation umbrella are providing a mix of unpaid and paid services to thecommunity; introducing the paid services only later on in the process once the relevanceof the telecentre for the community is established. Therefore, the concentration of theirtraining program is on sensitizing the telecentre operator about the functions of thetelecentres in the community in general and mobilizing the community to appropriate itsservices. They train the telecentre operators around these issues and also on the use ofcomputers, Internet and minor troubleshooting related to it.Now, since the trainers working with these organisations have codified the tacitknowledge on training available with them in the form of the Training Commons, theyhave started borrowing concepts from the modules they have developed to improve theirexisting training program areas. This was easier because they already have experiencedtrainers who are familiar with the concepts and terms used in those modules. Theadoption of other modules requires further training of the trainers and understandingof the concepts. Only then, they will be in a position to train others. This is a gradualprocess and organizations are grappling with ways to integrate training in those areas intheir existing system. They are adopting ideas from the Training Commons curriculum asand when required.b) Future prospects: The English version of the curriculum is recently launched,therefore, it is too early to talk about its future prospects. At this stage, it is moreimportant to plan for and invest in making organizations/ telecentre networks use it fortraining and improve it. For achieving this, there should be mechanisms in place toincrease awareness about the materials; make the materials available to the users; andencourage its sharing.In order to increase the reach of the Training Commons and make it more useful for allsections of grassroots trainers and suitable for delivery within India, telecentre.org, alongwith MSSRF, has initiated the process of turning around the curriculum into an IndiraGandhi National Open University (IGNOU) course. It has constituted a team ofcurriculum development experts from IGNOU, content writers from DA, MSSRF andother organizations, graphic designers from Splash Communications and other experts.As per the roadmap, the course will be launched in January 2009.Shipra Page 26 3/21/2013
  27. 27. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2VI Challenges & LearningsThe Training Commons was a unique project for the Indian telecentre network. Here,partners from diverse telecentre backgrounds came together to develop a commoncurriculum to address the challenges of mass training of telecentre workers. The Mission2007 network was founded on the ethos of sharing and collaboration and these valuesmanifested themselves in the Training Commons. Because of being the first of its kind,the project had its share of ups and downs. When the coordinators were asked to nameone thing that they wanted to change about the project, they didn’t actually stop at one.And this is true of most of the projects; none are implemented without encountering anyproblem. Still, it will serve as the first milestone paving the way for more suchcollaborations for the capacity building of grassroots workers. The lessons learnt throughthis project would definitely improve the implementation of similar projects in the future.Following are the challenges encountered while realizing the vision and goals of TrainingCommons and the lessons learnt on the way:6.1 Dilemma over the target audience:The biggest challenge before the Training Commons project was the target audience itselffor which it endeavored to develop a grassroots MBA curriculum. As mentioned earlier,this project sought to develop a cadre of master trainers from among the telecentreworkers. This group was diverse in nature with different educational attainments andserving different kinds of telecentre models. It comprised both telecentre workers andtrainers. Therefore, at times, the authors faced the dilemma of whether they wereaddressing the average telecentre workers or the trainers and this ambiguity prevailsthroughout the modules (Salil Chaturvedi). Therefore, to avoid any such discrepancies,it would be advisable to inform the individual author or group of authors about thetarget audience and to ask them to maintain this consistency throughout the modules.Another confusion was about the usefulness of the curriculum for the trainers or theaverage telecentre workers. As noted by Mark Surman, “There is some confusion here as to who is the user- those who are training the knowledge centre workers or the knowledge centre workers themselves; I think both. They had a fair deal of feedback from the trainers and those who were developing the materials, like Sagarika, Muthu, and Rana.”On the other hand, the master trainers attending the infomediary skills workshopsuggested that these are suitable only for the programme team, not for the averageknowledge workers.29 The telecentre workers, in the course of the interviews, were alsoof the opinion that they liked the training because of the way it was imparted and therelevance of the subject area. The modules were not introduced to them in their pureform; what they actually saw was the training program consisting of PPTs, interactivemethodologies and role plays based on those modules. In fact, it was the pedagogicalskills of the trainers and the training materials based on those modules that made all thedifference; and made all the terms and concepts used in the training very comprehensibleto the average telecentre workers. Even the reviewers and experts felt that the moduleshave an overload of information and the contents are a bit too technical for a grassroots29 NASSCOM Foundation (2007) Training Commons’ Infomediary Skills Module: workshop formaster trainers. NASSCOM Foundation, New Delhi.Shipra Page 27 3/21/2013
  28. 28. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2trainer or self learner (Usha Reddy, Sweety Prem Kumar and Subbiah Arunachalam). Anaverage telecentre worker cannot use it without the help of qualified trainers. Theyprovide good stuff for training to the qualified trainers and animators. And right now,they will serve their purpose consistently. And it is also imperative to attach a “Users’/Trainers’ Note” delineating the right method to use the modules to avoid anyconfusions among the users.6.2 Vision communication related challengesa) Confusion about implementation: Some of the coordinators, module authors and nonparticipating organizations from the Training Commons community felt that although theconcept of open was communicated quite clearly and was also well understood by all thepartners, they were not clear as to how open content will be developed. For them, it was anew way of working together to produce something concrete in the form of thecurriculum. There was a concept note, but no well defined action plan to share with thepartners, as these developed along the way (Ambika Sharma). Therefore, some of thepartners were confused as to how the project would be implemented; who would take thelead in developing the content and how they would use the virtual platform to create andimprove the content. A workshop detailing and resolving these issues during the initialstage itself would have gone a long way in engaging all the partners.b) Sharing the vision with the trainers first, not with the decision/ policy makers:telecentre.org invited only the trainers during the Chennai workshop. In the Indiancontext, it would have been more appropriate for telecentre.org (even beforecommunicating the vision to the trainers) to share the idea informally with the policymakers in the short listed organizations. They should have obtained their consent in thefirst place to have a fair idea about the number of organizations actually interested inparticipating and then shared the idea with the trainers from these organizations. Then,they would have progressed to the second level of detailing as to who had what kind ofexpertise and who would do what. Since the Training Commons project operated theother way round, the trainers were quite open to the idea from the first day, but thecoordinator/s had a hard time convincing the heads of the selected organizations to allowtheir trainers to participate in the project. So, first informal or formal communicationand consent obtained by the heads of organizations followed by a workshop with thetrainers would have taken the project a long way.6.3 Project management related challenges a) Elongated project life span: Most of “We were too flexible… we could not recruit the the coordinators and module authors felt partners on time… So, the entire project has been for a longer duration. When it comes to actually that the project term was unnecessarily long. It took almost two and a half years getting a product out, we cannot have such a long drawn process… The longer you drag, the more for the Draft Version 1 of the training expensive it (becomes) and the more obsolete commons to be available in the public certain things become.” Basheerhamad Shadrach, domain. The telecentres being such a Sr. Prog Officer, telecentre.org & responsible dynamic field, it is probable that what Officer, Training Commons project was thought relevant for training twoand a half years ago, would look obsolete in the present context. At the same time, itShipra Page 28 3/21/2013
  29. 29. M2007 TC- OER Case Study Version 2would also adversely impact the costs of the project. In this project, the planning stagewas unnecessarily elongated and later on, partnership building also consumed a lot oftime and effort, while the actual curriculum development process had to be rushed. It ledto compromising in several ways to produce the curriculum, like compromising oncollaboration and on more proactive user engagement. Therefore, a well planned, tightlyscheduled implementation would have saved a lot of time.b) Changes in the continuum of leadership: Another big challenge was frequent changesin the continuum of leadership. As Mark Surman notes, “From me, it (leadership) went to Shaddy, then to Ambika and then back to Shaddy. If I could fix any of the things by magic, I wouldn’t have done any of these. The passing of leadership from one person to another was a major constraint and also impacted the vision and goal of the project in a negative way.”This also adversely affected the Training Commons processes and practices. Thecontinuation of the initiator would have driven the project more or less along thepredetermined path and would have probably cut down the elongated project life span.6.4 Project execution related challenges:a) Top down project execution: In this project, telecentre.org was taking up theleadership role with the vision of building the partnership and then moving ahead withthe partnership. In retrospect, the project initiator and coordinator/s feel that it wouldhave been a more successful project if the central leadership had come from theMission 2007 members. IDRC/ telecentre.org should not have taken upon itself theimplementation of the project. As per the IDRC mandate, they should have engaged inbuilding the capacity of southern organization to do this job. This is further illustratedby Mark Surman’s comments, “The balance of leadership was too much on the top and too much from the global perspective and not enough from the Indian perspective. And that creates an issue not only from the value perspective… but also a number of practical reasons because it is not emotionally owned by the partners. They are not in the picture and they have no motivation to sustain it… So, I think the big challenges were about the construction of the partnership, ownership and motivation. What could have been done differently was to maintain the goodwill and participation of the broader Mission 2007 members, and not just the partners we engaged and paid for.”b) Compromising on participatory aspects: As envisioned, the project needed to be moreparticipatory engaging all the stakeholders, especially the user community throughworkshops encouraging consultative refining of the content, and by creating a strongfeedback loop. “The participatory method is all about involvement, not just getting thefeedback.” (Basheerhamad Shadrach), and in many cases, the feedback received from theuser community was mainly passive. Adherence to the conceptualization and originalproject design would have helped the project a lot in making it truly participatory. Themodule authors also felt that either at the beginning or at an interim project stage, adedicated team of representatives from all partner agencies could have worked together inone location for a few weeks at one stretch with a schedule of deliverables. That wouldhave added value to the project (Muthu). This could have been also achieved by beingvirtually connected through an online platform. If the partners were not accustomed toit, they could have been trained for working on this virtual platform.Shipra Page 29 3/21/2013