23 March 2010 (Updated 19 May 2010)


Capacity to Support and Developed Digital Systems



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7.3Capacity to Support and Developed Digital Systems


There is limited software development capacity to support the further development of existing systems or the maintenance and upgrading of current systems. The institution which most fully utilizes digital library systems is the UNAM library. Only the basic functionality of Greenstone is employed which has allowed the archiving/storing documents, keyword searches, and browsing by set criteria of UNAM publications, dissertations, a Namibia HIV database, UNAM prospectuses, past exam papers, and pamphlets from the WWWISIS database. 18
In 2007-2008, Namibia through the University of Namibia participated in a Greenstone Pilot Project in Southern Africa coordinated by eIFL.net and the Koha Foundation. As part of this project, ten participants from Namibian information centers in Windhoek received basic Greenstone training. Eight of those trained went onto receive advanced Greenstone training in a one week workshop. Outputs of this project in Namibia included:

  1. the development of a Greenstone Advisory Group

  2. SA Greenstone discussion list created by UNAM for participants in the project;

  3. a survey was carried out by UNAM to obtain pictures of the state of digital libraries in Southern Africa; and

  4. a website was set up1 to provide information about the pilot project as a whole.19

None of the websites or advisory groups are currently active and the results of the survey are not readily available. In interviews with UNAM library staff, it was noted that the person/persons who had the expertise to modify and develop Greenstone functionality are no longer employed by the library. The post at UNAM has been vacant for nearly two years. It is unclear who participated in the training workshops and where they are currently employed.


Both UNAM and The Polytechnic of Namibia along with the NOLNet e-Learning Centre have developed e-learning platforms using Kewl.NextGen. UNAM and The Polytechnic have committees which are responsible for the management of the e-learning systems. In the case of UNAM, they have developed a five person e-Learning Committee who are responsible for:

  • To investigate the different technology enhanced learning methods available for both on and off campus students and promote these methods to the academic community;

  • To train lecturers on the use of ICT for teaching and learning;

  • To maintain, support and encourage the adoption of the Managed Learning Environment;

  • To identify factors and devise methods to overcome the limited use of ICT and technology effectively;

  • To ensure that courses follow the workflow;

  • Encourage research that critically analyzes the working methods of eLearning;

  • Monitor and evaluate eLearning at UNAM.20

Weteach learning solutions (http://weteach.com.na/), a relatively new, private company based in Walvis Bay, was the only resource identified currently existing in Namibia that has the expertise in Drupal systems modification and development. Additionally, they have a focus on e-learning systems. The company is, however, only in its second year and does not have example projects readily available.

8CONTENT


This section describes the availability of existing open content and interactive digital content that may be included in the library, the content assessment tools and processes existing, and the existing capacity around content creation.

In order for a digital library to be useful, content has to be made available. This requires the use of existing content, the identification of Open Education Resources that can be modified with minimal effort to fit the Namibia local content, and the creation of new content. A goal of the Tech/Na! implementation plan is the creation of a collection of digital content to meet and support educational needs. However, there is acknowledgement while interactive digital content is highly desirable, there is also a need for printed materials as well to reach those learners and teachers who do not yet have in school access to computers and the internet. In addition, there is desire to actively engage in content creation.



8.1Content Inventory


The existing textbooks, learner activity books, and evaluations used in Namibia schools have restrictive copyrights that would not enable these materials to be included in an open digital library. There is a possibility to negotiate for copyright restrictions with the various textbook publishers, but at the time of consultation, it was the expressed view of stakeholders consulted that the cost and time involved in such negotiations would make this approach prohibitive. Table 8 is a list of digital and open content that is available for inclusion in the library as well as few recommendations of Open Educational Resources (OER) that can be evaluated for inclusion in a digital library. The content available is only at the secondary level, primarily grade 10 and 12. Digital content has been developed in identified priority areas that are considered “difficult” to teach or that lack quality resources and/or qualified teachers. These include life sciences, physical science, and mathematics. While none of these resources constitute full courses, they provide a good foundation onto which to begin to map and create full courses. Resources range from digital texts, teacher lessons, interactive digital content, and text content with assessments.

8.2Content Assessment


Currently, there is a system for digital content assessment in place in Namibia. A digital content assessment tool was created by NIED in conjunction with GESCI (Appendix 5). This tool was used in the identification and decision of adopting the LearnThings digital content. NIED is responsible for the evaluation of content and the Namibian Qualifications Authority must approve any outside course that is used for certification in Namibia. NIED expressed an interest in the identification and modification of Open Education Resources- both interactive digital content and paper based content that can be stored in digital forms and distributed in a paper format.

Table 8: Digital and Open Content Inventory Namibia



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