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by Elizabeth Gartley/images/stories/forum/12Jan/olegirl.jpg
M.S. candidate Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences: School Library Teacher Program, Simmons College

A few months ago, I found a volunteer opportunity posted on Open Learning Exchange (OLE) was seeking a school librarian to work with counterparts in developing countries, including Ghana, Uganda, and Nepal, among others, and to help develop the Basic e-Learning Library (School BeLL). I sent in an application and a few days later, I was meeting with Open Learning Exchange founder and CEO, Richard Rowe, at the OLE offices in Cambridge. We chatted about OLE’s projects and goals and my own experiences and interests, then Richard mentioned the upcoming OLE general assembly which would begin the following week in Mexico City.

“It will be a great opportunity for you to meet everyone on the OLE team,” he told me. And sure enough, the next week I found myself at the Universidad Iberoamericano, meeting education development professionals from around the globe.

During the course of the OLE general assembly in Mexico City, OLE partners from around the globe shared their work promoting universal basic education. Rabi Karmacharya of OLE Nepal has done amazing work integrating low-cost technology into schools and developing a digital library with both English and Nepali language content. In Rwanda, the OLE team has seen tremendous success with the help of a handheld learning device called the TeacherMate. I was truly inspired listening to the stories of people who had dedicated themselves to improving education in their countries.

Currently, Kofi Essien of OLE Ghana is spearheading the Ghana LITE (Learning Innovation Teams for Education) project, which focuses on activity-based learning in teams. The School BeLL will be deployed alongside the Ghana LITE project.

The School BeLL seeks to increase access to quality open education resources for students and teachers in the developing world, providing schools with a digital repository of learning materials. The BeLL platform will run on a low-voltage computer that can be deployed in remote locations with little or no access to the power grid, working offline or online and reaching communities that otherwise would not have access to such a wealth of relevant learning materials.

OLE has a variety of opportunities available for school librarians in the U.S., including suggesting learning materials, such as quizzes, drills, games, tutorials, workbooks, and videos, and teacher resources including teaching methods, learning methods, and child psychology. There are also opportunities to work on the School BeLL, help install the BeLL in Ghana this summer, and participate in a “Sister School Library Program” with a Ghanaian school.

For anyone interested in learning more about Open Learning Exchange and volunteering for this project, I encourage them to visit
Photo Credits: Open Learning Exchange "stock photo"
Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 January 2012 )

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