I’m Starting an uh . . a StartUp.

Since I transitioned from Butterfly Works last July, (now on the advisory board), I have been reflecting and exploring envisaged futures.

One might think that I have been doing what I love, already for years, which is sooo true, innovative education projects in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Kenya and Uganda  and yet there has been this niggling feeling. A feeling that, I want one big idea to unify, what I love, what I’m good at and what I find important into one program. A sort of personal ‘Theory of Everything‘.

In my search, I wrote my manifesto,  drew up my conditions, (a social enterprise, scalable, globally relevant) talked to lot of people, started the THNK program, did nothing (when the most reflection happens), hung out with my children (most inspiring) and came up with 5 promising concepts.
Still I kept flip flopping as to which of these concepts I REALLY wanted to do. Plus people were asking me, so what are you doing now? To which I could only answer ‘ I’m Starting an uh . . a StartUp’

Breakthrough

Back to the drawing board. While drinking coffee with Lino Hellings, she advised me: ‘Do what you love the most and even if no one else cares, you’ll still love it’
What I love the most is the creative thinking, design research and helping others to explore their creativity. As I wrote in my manifesto I see creativity as close to divinity.

Wow!  So simple.
For years, I had been choosing what to work on, as a social innovator, on the basis of: What does the world need? and what doesn’t exist already? I had been doing things that were 60 – 70% of what I love. not bad, but now I’m taking a different starting point. Creative Thinking is the leading ingredient, What I also love contributing to is, the resilience of young people in disadvantaged circumstances and I love the potential of amplifying it all via the internet. I drew the diagram above to investigate the intersection of these 3 main ingredients and plot my concepts. My start-up will at the middle point, where the star is.

The working titel is Creative Mobs, where design thinking meets flash mobs, and on December the 12th I’m holding a Co-Creation workshop at Thnk in Amsterdam to take this concept to the next level.

The potential of Mobile Open Education resources for students in developing economies.

A Mobile Leap?

Connecting teachers and students in developing economies to open education resources through their mobiles. A huge potential.

It’s now possible for people almost anywhere to connect to quality learning materials on almost any topic. If you want to know how to grow tomatoes or to study nuclear physics, you can watch a ‘how to’ youtube video or follow a free course online, from Coursera, sometimes gaining a certificate from a world-renowned university. That is, if you know that the resources exist and have sufficient online access. Two factors often not in place for schools in developing economies.

In an effort to bridge the access to OER gap, a wealth of organisations such as the Commonwealth for Learning and Connexions are collaborating to gather, translate and share available Open Education Resources (OER) for their partners and schools in low resource contexts.

At the same time, while many teachers in developing countries are unable to further their own education, or gain access to quality learning materials, they do regularly have access to a basic handset or a feature phone. A feature phone which can perhaps access the internet and can play videos from the SD card.

Three important departure points come to mind as to how we could harness the huge potential of OER:

1. How can we alert teacher’s to this trend and connect them to relevant online resources, either for their own professional development or for use in the classroom?
This, whilst taking into account obstacles such as low bandwidth, lack of time, cost and old handsets.

2. Can departments of education curate and select curriculum specific resources and share them to school using sd cards from phone to phone for example ?

3. What is the potential for students to follow extra courses, using their phones, considering the need for sustained motivation and the usual obstacles of cost and bandwidth. Is there perhaps need for an app to connect end users to the resources most suited to their context?

In the coming months I will explore these three questions, using ‘User Scenarios’ to explore how the growing trend of online and open educational resources can be appropriated to offer new opportunities via mobile for teachers, students and education systems in developing and post conflict economies.

I will be building on my work experiences of the last 10 years at Butterfly Works, working in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Afghanistan working with multi-discipline education teams to co-create curriculum compatible, open and interactive resources. And of course inspired by the UNESCO and EFA drive – amongst other international bodies – for quality teacher’s for developing economies and the challenge of how to motivate and train so many new teacher’s.

Further my explorations will be informed by the recent Mc Kinsey report ‘How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better’, the Uncollege Manifesto, the Maker Movement, the FrameWork for 21st Century Learning, the Flipped Classroom, the Mac Arthur DML Badges project, Simon Simek, Mozilla Labs, mLearn 2012, the broader Open Education movement and more.

I’ll be glad to hear from others who are exploring similar questions.

User Research in Bangladesh

User Research in Bangladesh

This photo set was made during our first research visit to Bangladesh as part of the plans for a nationwide mobile awareness and learning project in Bangladesh for young people.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/butterflyworks/sets/72157630048580040/


Young people at the FPAB center in Mymensingh, posing for me with their phones

The thematic focus is sexual and reproductive health awareness, information and skills. The program will benefit girls and women especially and aims to be a collaboration between the private sector, civil society and government in order to build a sustainable initiative.

We are lucky to be working with excellent partners on this as below, our role is the mobile app to work in synergy with the other partners work.
Oxfam Novib, BRAC, HASAB, CAMPE, BNPS and FPA Bangladesh, Butterfly Works.

Here you can see my Slideshare on our findings on the use of mobile amongst young people in 6 different settings in Dhaka and Mymensingh.

An AR game for gender awareness?

At Butterfly Works, Merel and I are asking ourselves if it would be possible to create an augmented reality game which creates awareness of the differences in how men and women experience public space, to give each gender insight into the experience of the other gender. All over the world be it Amsterdam or Bombay, Lagos or Dhaka, women have less freedom in how they use public space, can we challenge this in a playful way?

Here are some links we are checking out for inspiration

All going well we’d like to host a co-creation workshop on this with a number of designers, AR folk, urban space activists etc to see if we can conceive an experience to raise awareness.

Een slide show from Kars (friend of joris) about the future of games in the city
http://www.slideshare.net/kaeru/game-design-the-city-best-scene-in-town

Game layer video door Seth Priebatsh:
http://www.extendlimits.nl/nieuws/artikel/game_layer_de_opvolger_van_social_media/

Scavenger van Seth:
http://scvngr.com/

interesting group, have a workshop coming up 10 July about mobile storytelling:
http://www.setup.nl/content/workshop-mobile-storytelling

Tijmen
http://www.netniet.org

Butterfly Works

Butterfly Works is the organisation I co-founded with Hester Ezra and Ineke Aquarius. All the work listed here is done as part of the Butterfly collective.



http://www.butterflyworks.org

We are creative minds who use design for social change. We work in emerging economies because we believe in undiscovered potential. Through serious media, social branding and experiential learning we share knowledge, trigger creativity and build sustainable businesses.