Finding a common(s) path

March 8, 2006 § Leave a comment

Agra, India – February 28 – March 2, 2006

It was energizing to be back in the same circle again. The circle was composed of organizations spanning the full breadth of telecentre models in India – from completely community driven (MSSRF, NASSCOM, OWSA, Datamation) to staunchly entrepreneurial (GRASSO, Drishtee, WorldCorps, eChoupal). It also included key players in the roll out of government telecentre programs such as IL&FS and the Kerala State IT Mission. The reason for coming together: hashing out a concrete plan to create a common curriculum to train new knowledge centre and kiosk managers across India.


Dubbed the ‘training commons’, this initiative was initially dreamed up at a workshop in Chennai late last year. The project will build on existing telecentre manager training materials from India and around the world to create a ‘grassroots MBA’ style curriculum. It will also include the creation of a web site for curriculum sharing, an extensive joint piloting program to test the materials and, eventually, a certification component.

The Agra workshop provided the group with a chance move from vision to action plan (see 4 x 12 foot Gantt chart in picture below :-)). All of the organizations present committed to helping with bits of this plan: contributing content; writing new material; testing the curriculum. This process will start over the coming month.


One of the questions that came up consistently during the session was: do we need a generic shared curriculum (like a wikipedia for telecentre manager training) or a system for trading very specific, proprietary materials (like iTunes)? The answer is likely ‘both’. A wikipedia style common curriculum could provide a shared bookshelf upon which telecentre networks and programs could base their own training courses, much like the text books used as the foundation for an MBA syllabus. On top of this, an iTunes-like system would allow organizations with very specialized materials (which might be bundled up with telecentre services) to share them on whatever terms they choose. The team that forms around this project will need to dig into this issue early on.


Another challenge (and opportunity) will be figuring out how wide to cast the initial partner net for this project. Clearly, an initiative like this could benefit not only the original Mission 2007 partners who gathered in Chennai, but also the Government of India Community Service Centre program and other large scale rural computing initiatives. Also, there is a potential to hook this into the telecentre entrepreneurship training we are supporting in South Africa and efforts to work with UNESCO on improved CMC training programs. Likely, we’ll want to limit the project to India for the time being – but the potential for broader collaboration is huge.

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