Sept - Dec 2016
Global Digital Innovation
Edu Tech 


Deputy Minister of Education to attend Rails Girls Johannesburg launch on 7 December 2014

Enver Surty NewThe Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty will be speaking at South Africa’s first ever Rails Girls workshop in Johannesburg.

Rails Girls is a coding workshop that was initiated in 2010 in Finland. Founded as a one-woman initiative, the Rails Girls project is a volunteer-based project that opens the door for young women to take part in the digital revolution. It is now become something of a movement that focuses on drawing young women into the coding world, dominated by men.

More importantly, the way in which the workshop is organised demonstrates a  strong civic sense of community involvement that actually empowers young women to become confident about making career choices in the new digital space.

Over two days at the workshop young women are taught the basics of Ruby on Rails, a program that opens the door to creating applications and websites. While the instruction is at an introductory level, the participants enjoy hands-on training under the supervision of local coaches.

A fundamental principle of the Rails Girls approach is that no one gets paid – neither the coaches nor the organisers – and sponsors cover all costs. It is a tribute to the commitment of the Rails Girls supporters around the world that the event enjoys very significant support from the software community.

This event is the first one in South Africa and its success will drive it into other South African cities.

The two-day workshop is planned to accommodate 20 participants, 10 of whom will be selected on the basis of their disadvantaged circumstances.

Rails Girls Johannesburg has decided to limit the ages of participants for this workshop to between 15 and 18 years. In due course, consideration will be given to older participants.

During the workshop brief inspirational talks by successful people are expected to encourage  and inspire the participants to overcome obstacles and to strive to make meaningful contributions in the digital space.

Our ten coaches have requested (at no cost) to take part in leading the workshop. The total number of people at the close of the event will probably be a maximum of 50, including parents and guardians.

The objective will be achieved when the participants feel comfortable about finding their way around coding. But, the workshop will also give them access to a new network of international contacts who have supported Rails Girls Johannesburg.

This event is expected to fan out to other South African cities and, where possible, to schools. The Department of  Basic Education’s objective of digitising the curriculum and of offering innovative technology solutions that will empower learners is a part of a philosophy in which the Rails Girls project sits very comfortably.

The participation of the Deputy Minister as a speaker at the close of this event, to which parents of the participants have been invited, bolsters  the project and pivots the Department with an event that will roll-out into a national movement among young women.

In addition to the gravitas that the Deputy Minister will lend to this event, his presence and his message will contribute very significantly to influencing young women who need to know that their engagement in the new digital world has the highest support.

The Deputy Minister’s well-known and lengthy track record in the development of our country is by itself inspiring. His tacit support for this initiative will contribute to the learning of young women whose involvement in our country’s growing digital landscape is long overdue.

Digitalnfo is delighted that the Deputy Minister is to be available from about 5pm until 6pm on Sunday 7 December. This will give participants (and the invited parents) an opportunity to meet him briefly so that this will also be a memorable event for them.
















Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Creator Spaces   Designing Innovation Economics


Ayesha Dawood

I liked this when I came across it “Thinking is a kind of making, and making is a kind of thinking" says Jessie Shefrin former Provost of The Rhode Island School of Design and past Dean of Graduate Studies of The Rhode Island School of Design.

I like this too, alot 'design thinking ... is the expression of communication – the form itself...' that is the response I got when I asked John Maeda, at a talk at MIT this year what design thinking is -- Is it the form, is it the way it is presented .. and how does it impact international affairs? His response has got me mulling on innovation economics – and a very 21st century focus. The innovation economics idea was introduced to me by Professor William Fisher of Harvard Law School, Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property. And so Professor Fisher I take the liberty to propel this idea to designing innovation economics in the 21st century. So here I am positing Creator Spaces as innovation economics in action. And yes, Prof Fisher, Intellectual Property is important and as you say, only and only if it creatively engages with culture. So I take the creative engaging with the culture of a people, the culture of counties ... to a culture of creation. So, I am building and creating and designing too. Is this Ronald Dworkin`s chain novel theory playing itself out – a step by step building of things.

In particular I focus on Creator and Maker spaces which I call Creator Spaces. It is a movement rapidly gaining traction – and pioneering new pedagogies – tinkering, creator and playful learning pedagogies. No doubt this is influencing and will continue to improve a whole new wave – tinkering, playful learning and learning through play and exploration heralding novel creations as well as iterations in the new edu- tech era.

This is innovation economics birthed. A world of tinkering, software and hardware creation including an immersive engagement with technology and with materials –that is what empowers us to be courageous and creative. To make, to create – the art of playful learning and innovator spirit is boldly borne.

In seeing what we create – both online with immersive engaging of technology to building with our minds and hands to creating with materials to embracing the realm of possibilities and yes frameworks ( the lawyer in me screams legal frameworks as much computational thinking calls for system frameworks ). That is the power of Creator Space. They energise, motivate, uplift and propel growth in ones own sense of self, in creativity, in making, in building, in designing and cognition and critical thinking. And this is why it makes sense – it is innovation economics in both the digital and physical – a new form of a connected world – a world of immersive technology made simple – a world of creative making and a world of design and designing new things – software, new hardware, new things and while the search for new hardware forms and hardware materials is increasingly opening up new possibilities in materials.... Creator Spaces are about working with what is available as well making new from afresh and in that process new forms are birthed – New software creation is Creator Space and open source learning and remixing also lend impetus to this. See what amazing creations Scratch, an open source computer programme inspiring community learning and inspiring kids to create stories, animations and games - initiated at the MIT Media Lab Lifelong Kindergarden Group - is doing for kids globally here

Designing Creator Spaces is about inspiring people to take charge of their minds and ideas. I marvelled at watching the excitement and agility of the kids at MIT `s Scratch Day this May. Boundless enthusiasm and fun creations – and such confidence.

A new creator pedagogy in the making – yes – but maybe not so new in Africa and emerging economies where creator crafts and tinkering necessities were birthed. It is this staple that will take the shift to tinkering and artful play in emerging economies to levels unparalleled and a boon for innovation economics. Now that is design thinking innovation economics.  Creator Spaces is innovation economics. And yes, Intellectual Property matters.

Ayesha Dawood is a lawyer, writer and artist and educator. She is a Harvard and South African educated lawyer (@ConsultAyesha) She has an LL.M from Harvard Law School and is a recent Fellow of the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, Harvard University.