Eileen MacAvery Kane joined South African colleagues Herman Botes and Hendali Steynberg in an intercontinental presentation to an audience of e-learning enthusiasts at Durban University of Technology. Their Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) project “Building Bridges between Cultures” (see previous blog post) showcased the quality and depth of the international educational experience that students can enjoy in a well-designed and skillfully facilitated online space. The seamless way in which the session was conducted, with the challenge of having one presenter thousands of kilometres away in the United States demonstrated the ease with which participants can be brought together for international learning. Herman Botes is Head of the Department of Visual Communication, and Hendali Steynberg a lecturer in the same department at Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa. Eileen MacAvery Kane is a full-time instructor in the Art Department at Rockland Community College, Suffern, New York. Eileen has authored and designed the books Ethics: A Graphic Designer’s Field Guide, East End Stories, Teacup Secrets and the blog ethicsingraphicdesign.org.
Two OER projects are set to revolutionise e-textbook authoring at DUT. Dan Pienaar has already produced a first-year Chemistry textbook that provides students with the most up-to-date information in their field. The Chemistry e-textbook draws on authoritative sources with Creative Commons licensing, thus providing students with the highest quality at almost no cost. Previously, soon out-of-date printed textbooks cost each student over R500. Dr Alex van der Merwe has recently undertaken the authoring of a new Economics e-textbook, also founded on Open Education principles. OERs combine the best of dependable textbook content with local relevance and recent updates. The university is well on its way to becoming a net producer of OERs, rather than merely a consumer.
Lorato Trok certainly won over her audience at Durban University of Technology last year when she called for new participants in the African Storybook Project. The DUT Writing Centre have now added a new category for children’s stories in their annual writing competition. Budding authors are invited to write their own stories, or stories from the rich African oral tradition, or stories about experiences, hopes and fears of today’s African children. Anyone can try their hand, though. Go to http://www.africanstorybook.org/