In Kenya and other East African countries, there is a huge impetus to innovate in a context of uncertainty - in the world economy, climate change and human security. Innovation can be harnessed for development in many ways by both public and private sectors – from governments and transnational companies to small entrepreneurs filling a low cost market niche.

A challenge is how to enhance the capabilities of those working in innovation, whatever the sector. How do we understand the innovation process? How is technology and innovation policy made and shaped? How can we develop research skills that enable innovation and innovation policy to meet social needs?

This project is a partnership between the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) – a regional think-tank, research and training organisation, based in Nairobi - and the Development Policy and Practice Group. The project aims to enhance innovation capability and enable people to promote innovation in current or future work.

It is central to both ACTS’ and DPP’s agendas. It is also a concern of other key players including Regional Economic Communities such as the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS), East African Community, NEPAD and many public and private sector organisations and enterprises involved in education and training.

Project objectives

The project has the following objectives:

  1. to evaluate whether OU distance learning materials for postgraduate study can be used to enhance capability and employability in technology policy and innovation research
  2. to create a cohort of professionals able to use the materials either face to face or online to support the training of others
  3. to adapt the materials and create open educational resources (OERs) that can be used in continuing professional development in the ACTS Institute training programme
  4. to enable a wider use of the OERs for professional development in the East African region and beyond, by developing co-training initiatives with public and private sector organisations.
     

Project activities

The project activities included:

  • Recruiting a group of participants from the energy, health and agriculture sectors to study a postgraduate, distance learning module on technology policy and innovation research at the OU.
  • Evaluating the study experience of participants using questionnaires and a workshop. A smaller group was also interviewed at a later stage about their experience of the module and how they have been able to use it in their work.
  • Using the workshop to ‘train the trainers’, in distance and face to face use of the materials. Some module participants also carried out presentations and workshops in their own organisations.
  • Carrying out a second workshop with module participants, employers and other education and training institutions to create an outline of the materials to be adapted for open educational resources and to discuss the inclusion of East African case studies of innovation.
  • Versioning the materials for open educational resources (OERs) and developing case studies of innovation in East Africa.
  • Discussions and networking about wider roll-out and the development of new funding proposals.

Moving forward

The OERs are to be tested and launched in July/August 2011. Any individual or organisation will be able to access them, however they will also be embedded in organisational training programmes.

ACTS is organising professional development courses using these materials. The courses will provide opportunities for general learning as well as sectoral specific activities.
We are in discussions with other organisations and institutions about the use of the materials for their own education and training. More news will be on the web-site as the project develops.

Proposals are under discussion for a second phase of the project. A second phase could potentially extend into open educational resources on climate change and institutional development, with links into different education and training programmes.
 

Workshop

Pictures from the Workshop"Strategising Professional Training in Technology Policy and Innovation Research", 5th-6th October 2010, Nairobi, Kenya

Acknowledgements

We wish to acknowledge the assistance of the African Technology Policy Studies Network in the recruitment of module participants.

Funding

This web page is an output from the Education Partnerships in Africa (EPA) Project, funded by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for the benefit of the UK and African Further and Higher Education Sectors.  The views expressed are not necessarily those of BIS, nor the British Council.

The versioning of materials for Open Educational Resources was funded by charitable donations to the Open University.