New Web-based Knowledge Environment Serving the African Diaspora Opens
Africa, and the diaspora are the target demographic of this current web-based education and cultural development project. The DEMRI Portal is an integrated set of collaborative development tools and knowledge resources supporting the development, establishment, maintenance and refinement of Reusable Learning Assets (RLAs). This is a new collaboratory and we hope others will join us as we endeavor to form the basis of a new society...
This project represents an innovative approach based on academic excellence and vision. At the heart of the project is the concept of Knowledge Sharing and Cultural Development. This unique, evolving resource will consist of interdisciplinary contributions of the African diaspora throughout the world; via in-depth essays, dissertations, and theses along with important research articles. It is a launching pad for ideas and innovation in all areas of human activity.
What is a Reusable Learning Asset (RLA)?
Any digital artifact that is valuable for learning and useful in a variety of contexts. It may be as simple as a text document or diagram, or as elaborate as a SCORM learning object, but its essential feature is that educators and others will want to reuse it. This site provides tools and collaboration support especially for the development of RLAs.
What is Digital Learning Content?
Digital Learning Content is a collection of reusable learning assets: digital artifacts that are valuable for learning and useful in a variety of contexts. Each reusable asset must have at least one clear learning objective.
What is the DEMRI Portal?
The Development Establishment Mantenance and Refinement Institute - DEMRI Portal is a publicly supported project, organized and operated for Educational, Scientific and Literary purposes. Our primary goal is to develop, establish, maintain and refine an integrated set of development tools, Reusable Learning Assets (RLA's) and Objects, along with other knowledge resources to support and sustain Education, and Maximum Cultural Development (MCD).
The idea behind the DEMRI Portal is to make knowlegde resources, materials and Reusable Learning Asset (RLA) development tools available on the Web, free of charge, to any user, anywhere in the world. This venture continues the tradition at the DEMRI, and is based on the concept of Maximum Cultural Development (MCD), of open dissemination of educational materials, philosophy, and modes of thought. Educators from around the world can develop and utilize the materials for curriculum development, while students and self-learners around the globe draw upon the materials for self-study or supplementary use. The DEMRI Portal is delivering on the promise of the open sharing of knowledge.
Why is the DEMRI doing this?
In 2004, DEMRI Director, Marcus W.A. Tremble, decided to provide strategic guidance on how the DEMRI should position itself as an open knowledge project in the distance/e-learning environment. The resulting strategy, the idea of this project is in line with DEMRI's mission (to develop a web-based Knowledge Environment (KE) that will best serve the world as a tool for maximum cultural development in the 21st century) and is true to the DEMRI's values of excellence, technological innovation, and leadership. The DEMRI Portal contributes to "Maximum Cultural Development ", which fosters collaboration, discovery, learning and cultural development among all members of the diaspora, across multiple disciplines and around the world.
Information and communication technologies must be harnessed to support our goals at an affordable cost. They have great potential for knowledge dissemination, cultural development, effective learning and the development of more efficient education services. This potential will not be realized unless these technologies serve rather than drive the implementation of education strategies. To be effective, especially in developing countries, the DEMRI Portal should be combined with more traditional technologies and be more extensively applied to the training of teachers. The educational tools we use must reflect the diversity of needs, expectations, interests and cultural contexts. This poses particular challenges under current conditions of globalization given its strong tendency towards uniformity. The challenge is to define the best use of Internet technologies for improving the quality of teaching and learning, sharing knowledge resources, collaboration and development tools. We feel this project will introduce a higher degree of flexibility in response to cultural and social needs, lowering the cost of education and improving internal and external efficiencies of our education system(s). We here at the DEMRI sincerely hope that this new project will be both informative and useful for a wide range of users who all believe in, and pursue, a common goal of open knowledge discovery and "Maximum Cultural Development".
How does the DEMRI Portal differ from other types of Web-based educational solutions?
The DEMRI Portal differs from other Web-based education offerings in that it is free and open, because of its proposed depth and breadth, and because it takes an institutional approach to cultural development and personal empowerment.
The DEMRI Portal is not a distance-education or degree-granting initiative. Distance education involves the active exchange of information between staff and students, with the goal of obtaining some form of a credential. DEMRI Portal is not meant to replace degree-granting higher education or for-credit courses. Rather, the goal is to provide the development tools and content that supports education and cultural development.
Many individual members at the DEMRI and at universities already use the Web extensively to make materials available to their students and peers. Some colleges and universities now require a Web site for every class. But, to a large extent, these Web sites are designed for, and access is only provided to, the students enrolled at these institutions. The DEMRI Portal is an unprecedented institutional effort of a much broader magnitude, as the goal is to provide access to instructional design tools and reusable knowledge assets that are free and open to the world. Nothing of this scale has ever been attempted before under the banner of cultural development.
What are the long-term goals of the DEMRI Portal initiative?
The DEMRI is building a new Collaboratory and electronic publishing model for educational and cultural development assets enabled by Internet technologies. While DEMRI Portal's published content is already providing value to users, over the next five to 10 years, the published content, technology, and processes will become increasingly more robust. DEMRI Portal is built on a single, searchable organizing structure with technology that is scalable to include virtually any form of Reusable Learning Asset (RLA). These assets include uniform metadata about the contents.
We expect the DEMRI Portal to reach a steady, never static state by 2009. Between now and then we will be developing and publishing more learning assets, conducting continuous vigorous evaluation of the portals success, enhancing our content management and publishing technologies, and evolving our internal staffing and workflow. We invite the participation and contributions of all interested parties.
Will the DEMRI Portal always be free and openly available to anyone in the world?
Yes, the DEMRI is committed to the portal remaining a free, and openly available for the development and publication of knowledge assets that support the dynamic process and interaction inherent in the concept of maximum cultural development. Even as we continue to grow and evolve, the materials will always remain free and open to all. Along with this commitment to remaining free and open, the DEMRI Portal is also committed to the idea that the DEMRI Portal is not a distance-learning, or a degree-granting, initiative, and that there will not be a paid registration process required for users to view materials now or in the future.
Please forward this information to any of your peers you feel may be interested.
If any of you have any questions, please feel free to visit the DEMRI Portal, where the FAQ has over 40 more topics. Your also welcome to contact me directly with other questions.
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