Film exposes deforestation in Papua

The Knasaimos people in West Papua have suffered for many years from the negative impacts of illegal logging. A documentary from Handcrafted Films, the Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak has brought international attention to the plight of these local communities and their efforts to protect the ancestral forests.
In many respects, the story in West Papau has similarities with the problems faced by the Tlahuican community in the Chichinautzin corridor, outside of Mexico City. The new documentary from the UNU, Voices of the Chichinautzin, looks at the issue of illegal logging inside a natural protected area and in the communal forests belong to the Tlahuica.
We will keep you posted on other films that touch upon the issue of illegal logging from around the world. For now, if you want to get a good understanding of the extent of the problem, we suggest you take a look at

by Brendan Barrett on January 10, 2008 - Comments (01)  

Online Courses from the UNU-GVU

GVU Courses.jpgThe deadline for applications for two new online courses is fast approaching. If you are seeking to enhance your skills as an e-tutor, you may be interested to take the course on the Pedagogy of Online Learning.

You may also be interested about the whole process of course development and implementation. In which case, the programme on E-Course Development and Online Course Leadership may be well suited to your needs. The deadline for applications for both of the above is 18 January 2008 and the courses begin on 22 January 2008. Both courses are for credit and require around 240-300 hours of study.

Past students have made very positive comments on the courses. For instance a student from Somaliland stated “I thought that it was like other classes where you have to compete for higher marks and grades, instead I found myself more of a collaborator and a contributor than a receiver.”

by Brendan Barrett on December 11, 2007 - Comments (00)  

Launch of Voices of the Chichinautzin Website

voices_of_the_chichinautzin3.jpgFrom today, 11 December 2007, it is possible to view online the trailer for the new documentary from the UNU Media Studio entitled “Voices of the Chichinautzin.”
Chichinautzin is a biological corridor just outside Mexico City and the documentary shows how this beautiful land is the setting for desperate and at times violent struggles between indigenous communities and powerful interests.
Illegal logging has emerged as a major issue affecting the sustainability of this natural protected area. Local scientists, community groups and government agencies are working together, and harnessing traditional knowledge, to find a long term development path that balances the need for conservation with the security of local livelihoods.
The documentary was produced by the UNU Media Studio and directed and co-produced by Patricia Sims, co-directed and produced by Luis Patron. The UNU Media Studio wishes to thank all our collaborators who supported this project and especially the scientific team at REDMESO, led by Topiltzin Contreras from the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos.
You can learn more about this documentary at the following websites:

by Brendan Barrett on December 11, 2007 - Comments (00)  

Award for Saving the Ayuquila River

Ayuquila for blog-3.jpgThe UNU Media Studio is pleased to announce that the documentary and e-case study entitled “Saving the Ayuquila River” has received the 2007 Award of Excellence in the education division of the Society for New Communications Research Awards programme.
The Society honors innovative individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and media outlets for the use of social media, ICT, mobile media, online communities, virtual worlds and collaborative technologies in the areas of media, marketing, public relations, advertising, entertainment, education, politics and social initiatives.
The Saving the Ayuquila River video documentary and e-case study was developed by the UNU Media Studio in collaboration with the University of Guadalajara, Mexico and illustrates how scientists can work in local communities to bring about positive environmental changes.

by Brendan Barrett on November 13, 2009 - Comments (00)  

What is all the fuss about?

CapetownI have to confess that I am somewhat surprised to see the confusion that the Cape Town Open Education Declaration seems to have caused. To be honest, I am just happy to see something like this emerging out of Africa, although some people seem to object to the fact that the declaration was initially put together by a relatively small group of people. The declaration is fine with me.
For some insights on the discussions surrounding this declaration take a look the critique from Stephen Downes and the response from David Wiley. They are both visionaries in their own right and leaders of the open educational resources movement, so this discussion is very important and very interesting.

By the way, I signed the declaration. Why don’t you?

by Brendan Barrett on February 7, 2008 - Comments (00)  

The disaster game

stop_disaster.jpgThe UNU Media Studio has been supporting a course on disaster management and humanitarian assistance for the past ten weeks. Recently, we cam across – an online disaster simulation game created by the UN/ISDR (UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction).

The game teaches students how to build safer villages and cities to prevent disasters. The game (available in English, French, Russian, Chinese and Spanish) challenges the players by simulating various types of disasters such as forest fires, earthquakes, tsunamis and floods.

All in all, a cool online initiative that combines technology and education to prepare the young generations for a better future.
Click to play the game
Or visit UN/ISDR

by andreina on November 30, 2007 - Comments (01)  

Initial shooting in Kobe

kobe_shoot_.jpgThe UNU Media Studio team (Luis, David and Andreina) traveled to Kobe recently to scout for characters and attend the HAT (Happy Active Town) Kobe Community Festival. While there, the team interviewed Mr. Kazuo Sakamoto (82), a community leader who has lived in the HAT for the past 10 years.

Sakamoto-san shared his views on community and personal health, reminding us that the secret to remaining active and healthy is very simple: eat well, sleep well and don’t worry about negative things.

This research interview is the start of a long term documentary project that will focus on aging looking at its links to technology and social ties.

Related links:
WHO, social determinants of health
English Longitudinal Study of Aging

by andreina on February 7, 2008 - Comments (00)  

Making movies that make change

Following on from the post from Luis about movies changing the world, I came across another interesting presentation at TED by Jeff Skoll. He was the first president of e-Bay and now spends his time and energy supporting movies like An Inconvenient Truth, through his company Participant Productions.

The story he tells is inspiring and engaging. Here in the UNU Media Studio, in our own modest way, we are trying to use documentaries as a tool to raise awareness on important issues and to dig deeper into the complexities surrounding the sustainability debate. In this context, we have just started informal screenings of our new documentary entitled “Voices of the Chichinautzin” and will be posting more soon.

by Brendan Barrett on November 29, 2007 - Comments (00)  

From Dynamic to Static

MovementWhen we set out to create a static version of our WordPress based online courses we thought that with a little bit of clever programming we could make the conversion in no time. The process turned out to be a lot harder than we had envisaged but we worked out a basic methodology for getting the job done and we would like to share that with you below.
The first step was to download and use Teleport Pro software which crawls through a web site and downloads each page, graphic, etc. and rewrites the links to make the site locally referenced. Paying attention to unnecessary links such as comments and rss feeds while setting up a Teleport project will save you a lot of time later on.
Once the whole site was downloaded we started the tedious process of going through every page and doing a search and replace of multiple lines of html. After trying to do this manually, we realised the best way to proceed was to write a batch script to do the same thing to every html file and this saved a lot of time.
Other issues appeared when we discovered that Teleport Pro does not replace some of the javascript lines included by some of the plug-ins we are using our Wordpress site. This required more manual updating of pages. Also, the “SWF plug-in” we were using caused some minor problems when it created a new version of the player for each instance of a flash video appearing on a page. Our general approach was to keep testing the pages, checking outstanding issues and repeating until each page was working 100%.
The last outstanding issue and one of the largest challenges was to replicate the Wordpress search function by adding a Javascript search function to each page for locally based search. Well, all that sounds simpler than it actually was, but in the end it has been possible to convert three course modules so far from dynamic to static sites. This means that people who want to download the entire course modules can do so and can run them locally or on CD-ROM. This is very important in the parts of the world that are only occasionally connected to the Internet.

by sean on November 20, 2007 - Comments (03)  

Read Write Culture

Lawrence Lessig spoke at the March 2007 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference and explained how creativity is being strangled by the law. This is a very thought provoking presentation and although the focus is on the impact on younger generations and business, there are obvious messages for the global development community. To solve the world’s problems, we need to get creative and we need to be able to share knowledge.

by Brendan Barrett on February 7, 2008 - Comments (00)  

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