Peer-producing knowledge: a game-changer for development cooperation? – Question 5 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

November 22, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Some critics argue that commons-based peer production and learning only apply in the digital, non-real world (“building websites”, “building online training material”). The concept, they say, is therefore less of interest to international and development cooperation, which focuses on non-digital environments and “hard” topics such as health, energy or agriculture.

Jaime from Bolivia and John from Rwanda are not in the business of building websites. They are in the business of building tube digesters to support local biogas production in rural Bolivia and in rural Rwanda. They live 6,515 miles apart, but they both use the same manual to build the tank. It is one of 822 open online articles packed with practical production know-ledge on the knowledge commons platform energypedia. The platform’s vision is “a world of free knowledge exchange and mutual learning on renewable energies in which everyone has access to sustainable energy sources.”

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What makes learning communities self-governed & fun? – Question 4 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

October 1, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Frank Ilugulilwa - IT Trainer in Tanzania / Copyright:  Frank Ilugulilwa

Frank Ilugulilwa – IT Trainer in Tanzania / Copyright: Frank Ilugulilwa

Frank Tilugulilwa is an IT trainer in Tanzania. He teaches local IT companies how to build services and revenues around so-called “Free and Open Source Software”. Such software can be copied and modified by every company and every individual client. Frank has written a training manual with over 80 other IT trainers and experts throughout Africa (and from elsewhere in the world) in an example of a community-generated learning content. His experience with commons-based peer production started back in 2008 when almost no training materials rooted in an African context were available.

Frank and other African IT and business experts developed over 250 pages of practical, open-licensed, modular training material. This has also resulted in a vibrant community of trainers who have a strong sense of ownership of their subjects and who know and trust each other. They are sharing their knowledge amongst themselves and their trainees, local IT companies across the continent. Again, we see the power of peer-to-peer learning centered around a knowledge commons: the process began as a capacity building program called ict@innovation launched by German development agency GIZ. The project aimed at creating business and learning opportunities with free and open source software in Africa. Now it is a community of more than 1,200 co-learners, co-producers and businesses (UNCTAD 2012: 65f).

This example can serve as a starting point to provide good practice measures on how initiatives can structure learning around peer-production processes.

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How to build learning communities, that work peer-to-peer? – Question 3 of 10 on ‚learning by sharing’

September 22, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

In the field of online sharing and learning, the “Massive Open Online Course” (“MOOC”) has received a lot of attention. Many are enthusiastic about what elite universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Harvard are piloting. The two schools have offered joint online courses that have attracted well over 100,000 students. Much is also written about the start-up ventures Udacity and Coursera, which managed to enroll over two million students in just one year. These ventures provide a forum to some of the world’s best professors to host their lectures online. The students are then encouraged to participate through online forums that helpbuild a joint learning



community. They typically do not offer academic credit aside from, in some cases, a statement of completion. But they also do not charge tuition. There are estimates that only about ten percent of students who sign up for courses actually follow them until the end 1. And it still remains to be seen whether mass distribution of centralized online lectures will ultimately be incorporated into the formal educational system or whether they are just briefly hyped by universities and venture capitalists searching for new revenue sources and recognition.This article will, therefore, go beyond the MOOC.

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  1. See article by Tamar Lewin (2013, January 1): “Students Rush to Web Classes, but Profits May Be Much Later”, New York Times

Let’s talk about “Learning by Sharing”

July 2, 2014 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, News on publications, Open Source & Africa

Source and Copyright: (GIZ)

Source and Copyright: (GIZ)

Today, I invite you to join the conversation on an article, which I just published on the issue of “Learning by sharing – how global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge“. I posit in this paper, that commons-based peer learning offers a trigger to enhance skills, competencies, connections, capacities, and the agency of people and their organisations on a global scale – from the global peer-to-peer university to a worldwide expert  community of biogas digesters producers. It provides the freedom to learn – by sharing the world’s wealth of knowledge.

What do you think? Do you know additional examples of global -based peer production for human development?  What are your thoughts on how to link sustainable human development to solutions that scale, empower, benefit, and increase ownership? Is peer-to-peer learning a potential game changer?

I cordially invite you to read the article and to join the conversation by posting your comment below the piece.

If you are part of the TLDR-community (Too long didn’t read …): Don’t worry, I will release selected subtopics of “learning by sharing” over the coming weeks here on Stay tuned: You can subscribe the rss feeds of new posts or follow me on twitter.

‘Open content licensing for educators’ – online course now open for registration, online from 4 to 18 September 2013

June 16, 2013 in Freedom to learn

Dear all, please find below the invitation to a free course on “Open Content Licensing for Educators”, which might be of interest to some of you – please also share with other interested people. For more info, please contact the persons named on the website.

“The next Open Content Licensing for Educators course will be facilitated by the *UNESCO OER Chair Network* in collaboration with the *OER Foundation* and the* Commonwealth of Learning*.

*Open content licensing for educators<> (OCL4Ed) is a free micro Open Online Course (mOOC) designed for educators and students who want to learn more about open education resources, copyright, and Creative Commons licenses. *

This workshop will:

  • Reflect on the practice of sharing knowledge in education and the permissions educators consider fair and reasonable;
  • Define what constitutes an open education resource (OER);
  • Explain how international copyright functions in a digital world;
  • Introduce the Creative Commons suite of licenses and explain how they support open education approaches;
  • Connect with educators around the world to share thoughts and experiences in relation to copyright, OER and Creative Commons.



*When*: 4 – 18 September 2013. / *Where*: Online / *Cost*: Free

Reserve your seat today by registering from the course homepage <>.

Share the gift of knowledge and invite your friends and colleagues to join you.

Contributing to the programme and budget of UNESCO of 2006-2007

April 23, 2005 in Freedom to learn, Work

UNESCO logoBalthas Seibold is proud to have contributed to the programme and budget of UNESCO of 2006-2007 as part of his assignment with UNESCO’s bureau of strategic planning – his main editing contributions are within the “communication and information” section, which deals with access to information and freedom of expression. You find the final document online on the Webseite of UNESCO 

New book: Globalization with a Human Face – Benefitting All

July 1, 2004 in News on publications

Globalization with a Human Face – Benefitting All – That’s what UNESCO promotes through a new book with the same title. Balthas Seibold has edited the volume and has contributed an article on “Media, Communication and Globalization”. Check the book on the publication section of this site.

Nouveau boulot UNESCO

October 27, 2002 in Freedom to learn, Work

balthas_UNESCO_fernrohr_350_180As of November 2002 I will be working at UNESCO (UNESCO) as an Associate Expert Quite exited … and looking forward to contributing to the work of the Bureau of Strategic Planning (online here) which is responsible for doing the two-year plan and the six year strategy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.