POPJAM: School of Open Africa Kenya Event

I love this video from Khan Academy:

You can learn anything.

This formed the basis for our School of Open Africa event which also doubled up as a Maker Party event. We christened the event “Popjam”.

We hosted 20 girls from Precious Blood Secondary School, Riruta for the event. The goal was to work with these students to map out education as they currently experience it in their school and figure out how best to incorporate Open Education in their learning.

After a brief discussion, we mapped out learning and education activities as follows:

  • Lectures/Class instruction
  • Private study/prep
  • Group study
  • Revision of past examination papers
  • Student Symposiums

We asked them if we could add aspects of Open Education to this list. Very few of the students had heard about Open Education or understood its value at this point.

We discussed Open Education in a little more detail: We explored the concept of the commons, copyright and copyleft and how the Creative Commons suite of licenses has enabled the Open Education movement globally.

For most of the afternoon, the emphasis on the workshop centered on figuring out how the students could incorporate Open Education in their learning.

One of the themes that stood out is getting school administrations and teachers to understand and make an investment in Open Education. This will be Jamlab’s focus in the coming year.

While we work with administrators and teachers, we encouraged students to begin to demonstrate the value of Open Education by creating demand for it in the following ways: consume OER’s and integrate them in their learning, and pro-actively create and share OER’s with other students from other schools.


Jamlab is committed to facilitating this.

Back to the video.

I think one thing we often forget to highlight when it comes to education is how we learn.

From the video, we learn to crawl, then stand on our two feet, then learn to take a few steps and sooner than later, we’re running around at high speeds. We learn by building on what we already know. We believe Open Education is one sure way of building on what we already know to advance ourselves.

P.S – You can find all the pictures of this event on our Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.514288322008233.1073741829.206076319496103&type=1&l=cf98ba6115

About Maker Party
School of Open and Creative Commons is excited to be partnering with Mozilla to celebrate teaching and learning the web with Maker Party. Through thousands of community-run events around the world, Maker Party unites educators, organizations and enthusiastic Internet users of all ages and skill levels.

We share Mozilla’s belief that the web is a global public resource that’s integral to modern life: it shapes how we learn, how we connect and how we communicate. But many of us don’t understand its basic mechanics or what it means to be a citizen of the web. That’s why we’re supporting this global effort to teach web literacy through hands-on learning and making with Maker Party.

About the School of Open

The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, and research. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community for developing and running free online courses.

Creative Commons Kenya Salon


Looking at the times that we are in, it is taxing to fully understand and appreciate the creation of content in the digital space.  The use of content has spiralled beyond its previous state. Today, we are constantly interacting with content, whether it be data or literary content, in a way that was never envisioned before the dawn of world wide web. We are increasingly the subjects indicted by Copy right law and the time has come for us to ask ourselves whether the Law was made for man or man for the Law.

This is the same theme running across the minds of Africa and more specifically Kenya’s content creators. Jamlab being part of the Creative Commons Kenya community, we seek to understand the Concept of Openness, to explore whether Open and distributed systems will work, and look into the virtues and values of distributed Creativity.

We understand that the principles we hold on the subject of Intellectual property impact heavily on our economics, our social nature and our politics.  Intellectual property does not only affect lawyers authors and musicians. It affects all of us and as we have seen through the interaction with young people in the School of Open, the modification of these laws will make a huge difference between a future young people can behold and a future young people can create.

As a result, Jamlab, working together with Akilidada, took up the role of  bringing to Kenya and Sub-saharan Africa, the first ever Creative Commons Kenya Salon held on the 6th of June 2013, at the iHub.

The goal was to  explore how these same principles if used strategically, could level playing fields in education, in areas of government, academia and even the creative arts. We hosted panelists; Simeon Oriko Co-founder of Jamlab, Wanjiru Kamau- Rutenberg, Founder and Executive Director of Akilidada, Michael Murungi, CEO of National Council of Law and Reporting, Judith Owigar, President of Akirachix and Paul Kiwehlo from CC  Tanzania The idea was to find ways in which to democratise technology and find level playing fields while using it.

The questions that arose was the question of access and the question of how to ensure that the backlog of our work does not lie solely on the working of technology. These are some of the tweets that highlight the topics in the night.

Technology knows no male or female. The stereotypes are our own. -@JamlabHQ #CCSalonKE
6/6/13 7:05 PM
The culture of Open and the ability to share fostersInnovation and Creativity..@mtotowajirani @creativecommons @schoolofopen #CCSalonKE
6/6/13 6:19 PM
@akirachix main question is the question of access.. @owigarj #CCSalonKE
6/6/13 6:17 PM
If we removed the technology from the equation of our organisations, would they still exist? #CCSalonKE @akirachix @owigarj
6/6/13 6:51 PM
A level playing field is when my grandmother doesn’t need a middleman (lawyer) in order to seek justice -@KenyaLawReports #CCSalonKE
6/6/13 6:36 PM
How are the panelists @CCSalonKE Changing the status Quo in whatever capacities they are in?
6/6/13 6:54 PM
We should make a conscious decision to embrace culture of collab and sharing. It’s how we can thrive! -@JamlabHQ #CCSalonKE
6/6/13 7:54 PM

The Salon introduced the people who attended, about fifty of them, ranging from all backgrounds; Engineering students to CEOs of parastatals to University lecturers, to dancers and just normal techies to the idea, importance and use of Creative Commons in a world whose ground was constantly shifting under our weight. The message that was passed on at the end of the day is that everyone, in their own capacity, had to find a way to understand how to use and embrace Open, and also understand where it could be used and where it couldn’t be put to use. Otherwise, we would all face the fear of obliteration.

Many topics were raised that evening. The availability of food brings people to good spirits. However, to an observer watching closely as the group mixed and interacted into the night, they would notice the beginning of a community. People were brought together by curiosity, they remained because of the illumination they found. It was simply the beginning for the CC community in Kenya. The diversity will define us as we engage in more topics,  find more common grounds and have more Creative Commons Salons. Many questions still remained unanswered and many topics remained undiscussed. However, I can already see the recreation of many of the ways we do things and more in depth comprehension of the changing paradigms before us, stemming from the Salons.

Jamlab is simply glad to be a part of those bringing it all together.

The Co-Creation Effect – EFAC edition


#Co-creation, #Design thinking, #  Social entrepreneurship, #Internet… #The Defining Decade. Rocketing buzz words. Everyone has them in mind. Everyone would like to integrate them into their work. No one doubts the power of harnessing their forces. No organization desires to be left behind in their implementation; no leader reckons being left behind in defining them and seeing them magically transform their output.

On 1st May, we sat with 41 EFAC (Education for All Children) scholars and went through the basics of all of these terms. We did not hope to start an organization, or lure disinterested employees into the fundamentals of innovation. Our purpose was different, our goal to draw them out.

The session began with an attempt to make them say out loud their aspirations. They were only too eager to share. However, the first important lesson that they had to learn, was that they had to value both their ideas and the ideas of the people around them. “Every idea is vital.. Every input from anyone should be appreciated”.. I could hear Simeon above the fidgeting and sounds of ruffling paper. These were new words.. With an education system that focusses on excellence rather than equality, these was a whole new arena. They would shape their learning on this particular day. It was a level playing field and everyone was needed.

The Internet appealed to them but from their reserve and demeanour, they seemed almost afraid to explore it in depth. It was a grey area they were not so sure they could demystify. Most of them had Facebook and Twitter accounts. What was almost shocking was that most of them did not truly understand the power of Google or Wikipedia or that they could get lessons on line for free. I watched as they took out their phones and started typing on their simple search engines. At that point, I realised that we had touched on that bridge that makes the difference how people perceive things. Like many times before, I watched with silent fervour as they realised that the Internet, could do one more thing for them.

The next step was to reinforce the idea that once the Internet had opened them up, they could actually work together on something that they needed to be done in their community.

They worked on sketches of a Social Network that would pool in EFAC’s community using Design thinking principles. So thorough were they that all we heard in that room for the two hours they were at work were whispers and the sound of markers dragging across drawing paper.

As we all settled down after the presentations were made, the room was silent and contemplative. I knew what was in their minds as I had been there too. They could see new dimensions in life. Some told me that they could see new paths consolidate in their minds. “If indeed the Internet will help us achieve our goals either by connecting us, helping us collaborate, enabling us to share, helping us learn and exposing us to like-minded people as we had shown them, then indeed there must be another way” a young girl Fridah whispered to me.

Technology is not all about the complex makings of machines or programmes. Actually what makes it work is the fact that people see its value. Value in the opportunity to be better. Value in the ability to make things work. Jamlab’s work, I reinstated once more, was to make people see this value and harness it, to reach in and draw themselves out.



Jamlab, School of Open Chronicles


“Crack the glass and the crack will always remain.”… I say, “Crack the mind, and the crack will always remain.”

Reaching out to the young girls in Precious Girls Riruta, I watched them as their eyes lit up with the tiniest illusion to Open Education Material. The concept was familiar, but it was with such thrill that they explored it. It took a week to penetrate into them… to explore what they knew and did not know about the world. What their contribution to it would be. Why the Internet was so powerful to them, and why the people fighting for its dignity across the seas mattered more than they thought they did. Here are a few of some of their sentiments.. In their own words….

“Funny how life is so different when you look at it at a different perspective. Thank you very much for all the wisdom you instilled in us and am sure that what we have learnt has shaped us”… Aziza Twahir

“Nothing in life matters unless you make an impact in someone’s life”. This is one of the statements made during that week that I will live to remember. I consider this one of the most important lessons that was passed on to us; a secret of true living. I believe it is upon each one of us to use all our available resources and abilities, to make an impact in society”.. Vanessa Ombura

“The one week programme made me realize the importance,comfort and beauty of having a community you can rely on ,a community that cares,and that community starts with us, it starts with you,it starts with me”.. Candy Ading

“This came in really handy in coming up with a new system of borrowing books in our library as well as a new library layout for the same. Open Educational Resources (OERs) were another area of discovery and the way in which we made this concept relevant was by taking videos of some of our classes and uploading them on the internet so as to be used by students without teachers or those who need additional material. Using Creative Commons, we learnt a new way of sharing our work with others which entails reserving some rights instead of the traditional©” .. Crystal Ogake


At the end, I realized that I had been not so right after all. Of course they had learnt a lot. They had explored more than their ages allowed. They could make decisions on business; they could explain why Creative Commons was so vital… why the Internet was so vital! But what we had done in one week was not introduce them to foreign mind boggled concepts. All we did unconsciously was expose them to themselves. The world out there was ready, there were tools at every corner, what they chose to keep though is the fact that their contributions were needed to make it complete!

School of Open Initiative, Kenya


Jamlab is a community of passionate young co-creators who use resources availed to them to achieve individual as well as societal goals. Creativity and Innovation are words playing in our lips as much as they are playing in other people’s lips around the world. The difference is that, we believe that neither innovation nor creativity is a one-man thing.. it needs a supportive community  and even more, a non-prejudicial community which is what we provide.

As much as we work we work within ourselves, when we heard about the School of Open Initiative. We understood that the School of Open’s core focus is to make people understand the value of “Open,” build and share upon resources, which is in summary, what Jamlab aims to do. This time, the idea was to reach out to young high school students, expose them and make them understand the power inherent in an Internet they understood.

Jamlab officially began work with the School of Open launch program in Kenya’s Precious Blood Secondary school Riruta.

Introducing the concept of  “Open”  (which we set out to do) to a group of enthusiastic high school students made us redesign the approach as to which it has been done before according to research.
Instead of focusing on the idea of giving a detailed explanation and introduction on what Creative Commons licences and Open Resources are first, we sought to inculcate the value of Internet at a broader scope. Having done this before in our previous work with the Kuyu Project, we showcased a couple of videos on Friday to the general school population.

Following this, what happened was ecstatic!!! Expecting that only a few people would be interested with the events of the next week, we were proved wrong. We got over 200 applications of people wanting to join the next week’s program. Out of the 200, we were forced to choose only 44 a number that would grow to 50 as a result of ambitious unstoppable people.
Only students who would be able to develop an idea and be devoted enough to work through it a week using available Education resources would be accepted into the program.

With them, we delved deeper into the concept of Creative Commons. This is especially because I realised that these young high school students would never realise the value of “Open” as the technology world does if they do not truly appreciate the Internet in its entirety. Hence, we bridged the two concepts.

We made them truly value the Internet and what it can do in their lives. We made them also realise that they can actually achieve their goals if they see the Internet as a tool. We did this by actually making them do small individual passion oriented projects through the use of Open Education Resources. It has been fun. And the students absolutely love it. We are hoping to scale this project to the rest of the country by the end of the year. Hopefully, to the rest of the continent some time.

Slowly, the girls realised the importance of Creative Commons and how much of a difference it has made in their lives. The most captivating moment was when we came to understand that the students had been so sold to the idea of a “Commons” that they sought to start releasing their own education material, from class, to share with  thousands of students in Kenya, either from different schools or  those not in school at all.

Looking at them work at all these small projects they have began working on, I realised that for some of us, Creative Commons may be a policy thing.. However,  for these girls, the Internet is a link between them and a better life.  They are following their dreams because the Internet does not inhibit that. Now, they want to participate. They want to share, they want to learn, they want to discover, they want to collaborate and they want to create. Creative Commons is not just a policy thing to them. It is the avenue that will make all this possible. Admiring their devotion and hope, I understand now, that they aren’t working for a better life any more. They are labouring for a life they themselves can better. That is the hope that CC brings!