Offline educational resources – crucial for African schools in the years to come

During eLearning Africa 2015 in Addis Abeba I have met many enthusiastic and inspiring people. The conference has covered many topics like MOOCs, mobile learning and the importans of vocational training.

With my background as an advocate for open educational resources the big question for me has been; Can open educational resources make a differens in changing global learning – and specifically for emerging economies? After listening to talks on different relating topics and talking to teachers and startups from many different countries my conclusion is: YES!

During his keynote the frist day at eLearning Africa, Mark Surman from the Mozilla foundation showed a survey with predictions that within 2025 nearly 5 billion people all over the world will be online. Most of the new users will be in developing countries.

In the meantime it is crucial to address the fact that most africans schools are not online. The importans of online connectivity and the importans of offline resources when a school goes offline for any reason. For those schools that are online, having offline resources will also address the issue of cost when using video lectures from sites like Khan Academy is equally important.

There are some projects that have addressed this problem and I would like to give en introduction to some of them:

KA – Lite


KA Lite offers instructional videos from Khan Academy on math, science, history, economics and matches the common core standards. They also provide a diverse collection of math exercises for students that generates immediate feedback, provides step-by-step solutions, and works through a point system to encourage continued practice of material. You can download as many as you’d like to use in your installation of KA Lite.

Offline version of Wikipedia

Wikipedia offers free copies of all available content to interested users. These databases can be used for mirroring, personal use, informal backups, offline use. All text content is multi-licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). Images and other files are available under different terms, as detailed on their description pages. Often this means that you can use the pictures as well.

Gutenberg project – 46.000 books offline

Project Gutenberg offers over 46,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online. We carry high quality ebooks: All our ebooks were previously published by bona fide publishers. We digitized and diligently proofread them with the help of thousands of volunteers. No fee or registration is required, but if you find Project Gutenberg useful, we kindly ask you to donate a small amount so we can buy and digitize more books.

The Rachel project

The Rachel project have made a server(small and compact) including some of the best educational resources on the web, neatly packaged together for download and distribution in places without internet. For more info, check out this video explaining how it is made.

Apps on Android and iPad

Some of the apps on tablets like Android and iPad will not require you to be online at all times. There are a groing number av apps that will provide a good learning experience.

Some of the apps that we have tried in projects are:

  • Mathking
  • Quizlet
  • Dragonbox
  • O Clock

Tanx to Nuug Foundation as sponsor for my trip to eLearning Africa.

Global Sharing of Digital Learning Resources: A Paradigm Shift in the Making

The rise of open educational resources(OER) and Massiv Open Online Courses like MIT OpenCourseWare, Coursera, Khan Academy, CK-12 and edX represent a distinct change in how people all over the world can learn new skills and get educated. Many of these project allow free access witch means that you can take the courses for free and access all the resources.

So this idea is something «everyone» tries to replicate, a result of this is that everyone is making their own content, but very few are reusing what others have developed when making something for themselves.  For the future we have to re-think OERs and MOOCs and start building our content on what others already have made, if at all possible.

One reason for this might be that the current situation does not provide tools for users to mashup, and re-create and translate. In practice it should be possible for a teacher to search for high quality learning resources(this is already solved by Google) and then in an easy way make their own learning resources based on their needs.

How can we go about changing this?

Lets learn from the success of Wikipedia and crowdsourcing

The freedom to share, re-use, change, translate and mash up new versions are some of the reasons for Wikipedia becoming the most important source of knowledge on the internett.

At the hart of  Wikipedias growth is the «magic» that emerges around crowdsourcing – a method where a large number of people work together on solving a problem or creating a knowledge univers like Wikipedia. More than 10 million people have written something on Wikipedia.

At the «foundation» for crowdsourcing lies the freedom to share, re-use, change, translate and mash up new versions and this will also be important when we are talking about high quality digital learning resources.   

Did you know that you can translate Khan Academy into your own language?

Khan Academy is one of the most famous open educational resources giving their users access to thousands of lectures in subject like math, history and science. One thing about Khan that is not that well known is that you can translate Khan Academy into your own language. You can do this legaly because:

  • Khan Academy publishes all there resources under a Creative Commons license
  • Khan Academy offers a tool for anyone that wishes to translate into another language


When we talk about Open educational resources(OER) that are released under a free license like creative commons it is crucial to distinguish these from those online giving free access. The factor of free access is important, but this alone limits the possibilities to make changes, create new content and translate into new languages.

Some basic principals must be at the core of a global community sharing OER:
  • All content must be available for free, free access
  • All the resources must be under what is called a free license, for example Creative Commons
  • All the resources must be available plattform independent, this will make it possible for local startups and businesses to make new edTech based on this content
  • There must be a mechanism for micropayment for those that contribute in to the community

After attending and speaking at this weeks eLearning Africa conference in Addis Abeba I am convinced that our global community of educators will succeed best if we go for the model of Wikipedia with sharing trough a crowdsourcing community.

Tanx to Nuug Foundation as sponsor for my trip to eLearning Africa.

Will the gap of the digital divide be closed by the mobile phone?

The Digital Divide defines the difference between those who have access to technology and the internet and those who do not. Of the world’s population of about 7 billion, almost 70 per cent have no access to a PC or the internet. Projects that help to close this digital gap will help to create the basis for global sharing of knowledge and high quality education for all.

The annual report on health and education and results that was published by Norad(the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) in December 2013 indicates progress in both health and education in recent years. At the same time, population growth in low-income countries is high, and the population of Africa is expected to double by 2050.

5 facts showing that EdTech is important for the future of global education:

1. No fewer than 250 million children can not read or write. These children represents 20 percent of all children in the world.

2. 130 million of the 250 million people who can neither read nor write have been trough at least four years of school.

3. Globaly there is the need for 12.6 million new teachers until 2020 to reach the goal of education for all. This is according to Unesco, based on current paradigm without extensive use of technology.

4. Teacher Salaries make up about 80 percent of education budgets in most countries.

EFA Global Monitoring Report 2015.

Overcoming these obstacles will therefore require considerable effort in order to ensure education for all, and it is here that I believe technology – and more specifically mobile applications and learning resources – can play an important role.

Global access to the digital commons

If we analyse the digital divide continent by continent, we can see that the vast majority of internet traffic is still between Europe and North America, while large parts of Asia and Africa are – literally – not on the web. Access to the internet will, in itself, facilitate knowledge for more people and give more equality of opportunity in many countries in the future.

Where access to the internet differs from other types of infrastructure is that we are less dependent on roads, factories or other buildings to bring it about. If we travel outside the major cities, in Africa for example, we find that many people already have mobile phones – even though their houses may have no direct access to electricity or clean water. To many Norwegians, this may appear to be a paradox, but for the inhabitants of these countries it is actually easier to obtain a mobile phone than a connection to power or water.

By 2025, there will be upwards of 4.7 Billion people online of which 75 percent will come from emerging economies.

As of November 2014, M-Pesa transactions for the first 11 months of 2014 were valued at KES. 2.1 trillion, a 28% increase from 2013, and almost half the value of the Kenyan GDP.

These numbers from Kenya on mobile payment are what I would call a forecast that when the digital divide is closed, it will come as a result of the uptake of mobile phones!

Working with H5P at Life academy workshop in Karlstad

LIFE Academy in Sweden provides training, learning and networking opportunities in the field of sustainable Development. They work with organizations, institutions and ministries across different countries with a main purpose to contribute to sustainable solutions all over the world, with a strong focus on developing countries.

I’ve been asked by Life Academy to arrange workshops for groups of teachers and other resources from different continents and countries attending a course at Life Academy. At the last workshops we have had participants from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Rwanda. My role has been to teach them about open educational resources and how to reuse and translate resources from global projects with content based on a free license such as Creative Commons.

IMG_0190Picture from the workshop in February 2015. 

In this workshop we worked with a tool called H5P. H5P makes it easy to create, share and reuse HTML5 content and applications. H5P empowers teachers and studens to create rich and interactive web experiences more efficiently – all you need is a web browser and a web site with an H5P plugin. There are many different types of learning resources one can make.

In the last two workshop in February and April we did the following exercise with H5P:

  • First we made a text with facts from the different countries(demo of crowdsourcing)
  • Step 2, all participants made and interactive “drag and drop text” simply by adding “*” into the basic tekst
  • Step 3, the different groups maid the same “drag and drop text” in their own language

The magic with a simple tool like H5P is that only within minutes anyone with basic computer skills can make interactive content for their students. Sharing the interactive content is also very easy, you can download and re-use to make your own version or you can embed it on your own blogg or website like I have done in the examples in this post.

H5P objects are very easy to translate, check out some of different languages here:

English version: version: Version:

Startup Weekend Education in Bergen

This weekend a was asked to be one of the judges under Startup Weekend Education in BergenThis is based on a global concept which targets startups working with products within EdTech. It was great fun working with teams of smart people.


My colleague Paul was mentor for various startups.

In 54 hours, participants share ideas, form teams, build products and launch education startups. Startup Weekend Education begins with open-mic 60-second pitches friday night that result in the formation of small teams around the best, most viable concepts. Teams spend saturday and sunday focusing on customer development, validating their ideas and building prototypes with the help of experienced mentors. On sunday, teams demo their education products and receive valuable feedback from a panel of expert judges.

The criteria which the various projects were assessed against are:


  • Did the team get out and talk to customers?
  • Are they actually solving a problem?
  • What’s their clear value proposition to that customer?
  • Have they identified a specific target market?

Execution and Design:

  • Did they work well as a team?
  • Did they have an MVP or prototype (paper is ok) to present?
  • How functional was the demo?
  • Was the usability of the product easy and friendly? Design Matters!

Business Model:

  • Does their solution solve a core need/problem?
  • Did they present a value proposition
  • Is it unique?
  • How will they differentiate themselves from their competition (did they identify competition)?
  • What is the go-to-market/launch strategy?
  • How will they make money?
  • What is the user acquisition model?

Education Impact:

  • Solving a problem in education?
  • Well suited for the education market?
  • High impact for education stakeholders?

When working with the teams this weekend it struck me that all edTech startups should look to these criterias ones every now and then to get at reality-check on there project.

So…I thoght…why not share them on my blogg.

My first test of Smarterer


In my search for inspiration from projects and startups that do some sort of edTech related apps and webservice I stumbled upon Smarterer. Smarterer scores and validates digital, social, and technical skills, using crowd-sourced test design and an adaptive scoring algorithm similar to the one used to rank chess masters. You can contribute by creating tests of your own.



The picture above shows how a test provides feedback with points for how many correct answers you have.

Some of the things I like:

  • Easy to use
  • Nice look and feel
  • Good embed features
  • Offers API

Pluralsight Acquired Smarterer for $75M in november 2014 so one would have to rate this as a promising Tech-startup.

PS! You have to logg on to Smarterer if you want to take my test. You can sign up for free at

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