Friday, January 30, 2015

Workshops in Dodoma

Writing in the bus back to Dar. Don't make it too easy on yourself. This will be long post, mostly I do not feel like splitting it into a post per day.

So we stayed in the VETA hotel in Dodoma. It's a beautiful place, lots of space

with shelter from the rain, that did fell in large quantities Wednesday night

and some pets

VETA stands for Vocational Education & Training Authority and is therefore a training facility. It showed in the quality of the staff. Some were quick to react, others really honored the polepole tradition of Tanzania and did have some "training" to do.

The venue

Next to Maaike and Geraldine and myself, a couple of participants from universities elsewhere in Tanzania, like Arusha, were stationed in the VETA Hotel. The workshops in Dodoma were held in the Council Room of St John's University, the smaller of the two universities of Dodoma. Luckily John's University had arranged a private daladala to take the complete group to the venue. A big room with tables in Carre layout, much better to have direct contact with the participants. Unfortunately there were too many participants, 22 in total, to fit at the carre.

And as we were in a Christian university, there's a cross to constantly remind you:

First day: Tuesday

We were welcomed by two vice-presidents of St John, who were "honored to host this very important workshop for Tanzanian academics". We couldn't agree more! After these encouraging words we did the customary round of names. The "Dodoma group" was a lot more homogeneous than the "Dar group": every participant works in one of the Tanzanian universities outside Dar: Mogororo, Arusha, Dodoma,... All universities publish their work in their own journals, mostly on paper; some already have switched to online, using African Journals Online (AJOL).  All were very eager to explore the possibilities to publish online digitally.

We started off with an introduction which was basically an adaptation of the presentation of Damian Gibbs (DDD) as he did in Dar. Digital Publishing is hard - we all struggle. With this information in mind we asked the participants to write their objectives on a sticky note. Some surprising objectives came: accessibility, online editing. Good questions, that we could not address in detail, unfortunately.

The rest of the program was roughly the same as in Dar. The production process of copyediting, typesetting, proofreading and publishing, with serving as example

A big discussion on the definition of proofreading followed,showing that this piece of workshop fell in more fertile earth in this Dodoma group, compared to Dar.

We ended the day with metadata, with their own publications serving as examples to extract metadata. Interesting enough, just as in the Dar the participant also regarded the layout properties of the paper journal as metadata (those who know me know that I do not share this view :-) and also were having trouble determining the metadata of the authors, like addresses and affiliations. Are those properties of the paper, or of the author? We at Elsevier struggle as well :-)

At the end of the day I even got the metadata from the VTW to show how complex metadata might become...

Second day: Wednesday

Ebook, ebook, ebook. We started with some theory on available formats. Then I gave a better prepared demo of the ebook management tool Calibre. After that, let's make your own ebook. After lunch: present your ebook to the group. Participant Rex even showed how to share your Calibre library with other, which I found really impressive (read between the lines: I did not even know of the possibilities)! And some participant found out the hard way that PDF is not a suitable format to start from.

Observation: Tanzanians sure like to decorate their desktops with pictures of themselves. I wouldn't like to look at my own face the whole day. But tastes differs, let's keep it with that.

The day ended with the presentation on online data cleanup.Yes, when you publish online you also need to look after the way to "unpublish" your works, which was an eye opener for some.

Third day: Thursday

After the presentation of Geraldine the misunderstanding in digitizing your legacy content was lifted. Digitizing is not about getting your journals online; instead it's is all about how to transform your paper journals and paper books to a form you can publish digitally. So scanning, OCR-ing, cleaning, and maybe even try to find a supplier to do the work for you, that's the kind of work you are looking for. Instead, a big discussion started on layout on the journals instead of how to create a digital copy.

When we discussed the requirement you need to think about to get suppliers to do the correct work, Aida owned the template for suppliers (her own words!) and really did a good job in adapting it for her own needs.

After lunch and some work on file management the "internet on my laptop" was sloooooowwww. The laptop is slowly dying. So I could do no demo of OJS word2xml tool, which is a shame.

The workshop ended with handing out the certificates.

The stay in Dodoma ended with a very good Indian dinner at New Dodoma hotel. It turned out that there is no pool table in Carnival, so we couldn't verify Silas' claim that he was very experienced and would beat us all...

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