Today, with much excitement, we travel from our respective cities of London, Tehran and Paris bound for Accra, capital city of Ghana.

Ghana is perhaps a second home to me having traveled back and forth visiting family for almost 14 years now. The truth is that I don’t visit enough which is something my family and I intend to change in the not too distant future. For us, Ghana is a very special place, a smart, progressive and rapidly developing society with a deep culture as well as significant natural resources, the most important of which are its people.

WorldreaderGhana is one of the African continents fastest growing digital nations experiencing a rapid increase in the uptake of internet and mobile data platforms. 

As a result of local and international  initiatives Ghana is now at the nascent stage of competing in the digital economy and exporting home grown digital product. In my view this is a vital stage for African nations where there is increasing access to digital platforms but where the majority of digital content comes from outside. 

Without domestic digital creativity it is easy to imagine how opportunities for sustainable local wealth creation could be lost whilst at the same time losing its own unique culture in a westernized cyberspace. I commented on this issue some years ago when I was concerned by the “brandalism” conducted by mobile operators seeking short term growth rather than long term rewards by investing in the people.

With this in mind I’m super pleased to be heading to Ghana to visit what I consider to be two vital and important programmes. 

The first is Worldreader, an initiative founded by David Risher and Colin Mcelwee who saw the opportunity to distribute e-readers and e-books to communities in rural Africa to provide unprecedented access to the written word. So far they have distributed more than 600,000 e-books to over 4,000 children many of whom have never owned a printed book. But it doesn’t stop there and I’ll be visiting a primary school in Adeiso, Eastern Region (about a 2 hour drive from Accra) to meet with Colin, teachers, local kids and their parents.

Mobile Web GhanaOur second case study is Mobile Web Ghana, a non-profit organisation established by Ghanaians to foster digital creativity and entrepreneurship. Its objective is to provide training, access and support so that Ghanaians can create their own digital businesses and compete in the global digital economy. I’m looking forward to interviewing their founder and project co-ordinator, Florence Toffa, at their new facility in Ghana as well as meeting some of the teaching staff, mentors and students.

If you have any questions for Colin or Florence please add them to the comments below and I will ask them during my interviews or report back here.

Well for now my case is packed along with my tech, sunnies and sun cream hoping for a warm “akwaaba” in Ghana along with a helping of Tilapia & Banku!


Learning {RE}imagined

I’m thrilled to have been chosen to write the next book for the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE).

Newsha Tavakolian

Newsha Tavakolian

To be released in 2014 this new publication will focus on the link between technology and education by investigating how the connected society is transforming learning. The rapid spread of digital platforms, increasing connectivity, the potential for massive online collaboration and “networked intelligence” are not only opening new doors to lifelong learning but breaking down generational, geographic and disciplinary boundaries.

This could be one of the most exciting projects I have worked on and in some ways is a tangible culmination of the past 8 years of my career in the creation of Learning Without Frontiers and more recently Education Design Labs I follow in the footsteps of previous WISE authors, Charles Leadbeater who wrote Innovations in Education and Valerie Hannon who authored Learning a Living. In such auspicious company I can only do my best to meet the benchmark they have set.

Between now and the rest of this year I will be traveling the world to meet and learn from some of the foremost thought leaders and practitioners working at the intersection between learning and digital where along with a shifting society the crucible of innovation, disruption and transformation is white-hot.

Accompanied by one of Iran’s most acclaimed young photographers, Newsha Tavakolian and assisted by Raphael Yaghobzadeh we will be telling a story about how the world of learning is changing as well as the challenges ahead that sometimes wisely, sometimes frustratingly prevent transformation of a key aspect of society – education.

Raphael Yaghobzadeh

Raphael Yaghobzadeh

Here on this blog you can follow our journey where will be posting as frequently as we can from hotel rooms, airplanes, cars, locations and wherever we get a connection to the net. We hope you’ll tune in.

Over the coming months we will be in Ghana, Dubai, Lebanon, Jordan, USA, Singapore, Brazil, Russia, China, India, Qatar and the UK meeting, filming and recording with inspiring thinkers and doers from across the spectrum of learning and digital.

At the end of this project we will have a beautifully illustrated printed book that features an app for smart phones and tablets that will reveal an evolving digital layer of rich media “hovering” above the pages.

pucture of kids

Perhaps we will meet you on our journey and those of you attending the WISE Summit in Doha this year will have an opportunity to contribute to the creation of this book in an unprecedented attempt at community co-creation.

Like any creative innovation we are summoning the courage to try out new things sometimes they’ll work, sometimes they won’t and sometimes they’ll surprise us. I applaud the WISE organisation and the Qatar Foundation for supporting this project. Our mission is to get under the skin of the debate around technology in education to understand and report back what is working and what are the obstacles as well as the triumphs.

Welcome aboard!