Update from the field: Hera, new tools, new ventures and TEAM work.

Its November already and AKE participants are now full speed working on their final projects and ventures. Our next milestone will be the AKE showcase (so far is planned for the 6th of December). We are now all working on  the things to showcase and the plan for the day! Stay tuned on more information on how to join us.


Working at the AKE lab

Meanwhile some AKE participants report from the field on how their work has been advancing. As you can see there are many levels: personal projects, team work and final productions.


Hera of Nwange background (by R Bancy)

Ruth Bancy (AKE participant from the game development team) shares with us one of the backgrounds she has been working on for Hera of Nwange. She has also been working with her colleagues on their joint venture VIDOSHO.

Ruth says about her project: “..It’s very challenging. I have had leadership roles before but not as demanding as this. The responsibilities and sacrifices that come with this role are a lot and I cannot afford to do mistakes neither fail either of them. I am happy that my partners are very supportive and it makes my work more easy “. Good attitude Ruth, we are looking froward to see Hera and learn more about Vidosho soon!


Chunya alubum (Artist: Makossiri, art cover: Chela)

This is the cover for  the upcoming album of AKE’s multifaceted artist Makossiri! The cover art is  done by Chela (AKE participant and talented digital artist). The first single of this album  was produced by Reuben Besa (AKE participant and sound producer) and released the 11th  November. Congratulations!!

For Makossiri teamwork and collaboration are one of the most important aspects she has learned during AKE Program. “.. As an artist and creative, you learn that people and the relationships that are build thereafter are what takes you to the next level and make you visualize things beyond your usual thoughts. We have to be vulnerable and open to collaborate with different minds.” Well said Makossiri, we can not agree more with you!

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Mbuyu character (By R Macau)

In this image AKE participant Maurice Macau at the AKE lab working on the final touches of the Sponsa Animation Project (now in the 2nd and 3rd phase). He is being in charge of the character Mbuyu who is almost ready.

Maurice has been very inspired by children around him  “.. since they represent the true us, and the joy we also had as children sometime back“. Let us all not forget how we can use joy and curiosity as good resource for learning.

As a joint venture all of us in AKE have also been using some new tools and practices to communicate and organize the work. Right now for example we have in use Whatsupp groups, google drive and email and Slack and Trello are some of the new tools we have being taking on board. Developing new practices takes time but with the support from AKE tutors, Victor and Irish tutors, we are all learning.

Some of our Trello boards look like this today :)… loads of TO DO lists and conversations. Things are moving forward!


AKE2016 One Trello board


AKE2016 Some collaborative document writing and planning

We have also been sketching, analyzing and taking more notes on all that has being happening in AKE. Here Minna and I share with you one rough diagram we made illustrating some components of AKE program. This is part of our joint work towards an AKE model.

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AKE2016 The program in a nutshell (draft diagram by A Botero and M Aslamaa)

And AKE participants are also busy now formalizing and shaping some exciting new ventures, we like to see them as creative start-ups that aim to develop the role of the creative industries in Africa. All these ventures will be providing professional services to others in Kenya and abroad.

We have in the pipeline the following exciting businesses:

  1. Arktari Kreations offering animation, graphic design and web development services.  (Arktari has been featured before in the blog)
  2. Triple Touch providing entertainment services that include disk jocking, audio production, equipment.
  3. Vidosho offering architectural design, graphic design, animation and a series of e-cards products.
  4. VerbHouse offering services around cinematography, photography, advertisement
    and animation.
  5.  816Studio (working title)  a record label for selected Kenyan based artists.
  6. Pamoja Gamers (working title) providing game design and development services

Live Blog: Round Table and Solution Design Workshop, 31 August 2016

Place: Golden Tulip Hotel, Nairobi.


Welcoming words by Victor Omondi: The Programme!

“Thank you all participants — the different stakeholders. We are in the process creating an pan-African model that will respond to the challenges of our field! Already at this stage, we work with policy makers and the industry, as well as international consultants and other stakeholders. Our mission is to tell African stories!” #Creativemedia

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Introduction to GESCI & AKE: Jerome Morrissey

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“This is an important day for us! An introduction to this programme for all our guests/and partners. GESCI was originally established based on the recommendation of the UN ICT task force. We work in 16 African countries:

  • Incorporation of ICTs to enhance education — involves many aspects. Models, scaling.
  • Funding: foundations, development funds (GESCI-AKE is funded by Finland, and Sweden).
  • This is a small project for us but a very important one: we are creating new curricula, a model! (Most organizations, internationally, are too slow to adapt changes in the workplace, in the industry…)
  • We are developing a model, researching it (Living Lab), AND we want to influence policy, share our experience with policy-makers.
  • CONTINUUM: from digital skills to business-industry skills to job creation!


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Mary Hooker: Living Lab – AKE 2016 Research Framework and Model

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Research design fro AKE 2016 LL

Mary: “Living Lab Research as the intervention to the process, not merely as a scholarly work.”

  • Bringing everyone on board – to make research actually to make something!
  • This is especially important in education – we need products! It needs to respond to the marketplace, the rapid changes in the workplace.
  • It is EXACTLY WHAT IS IN THIS ROOM: talent, business, educators coming together! Skills meet biz, and this is not a simple task to translate in education.
  • We are documenting this process to create a model!
  • 3 phases of the model — we are in the 2nd phase testing the products (if not, what should be changed? Feedback from the biz world!):

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  • We are documenting the model and will be sharing it: nationally and internationally!
  • Platforms  – this is about how we learn and share! No more silos!
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Example from the tutor reflections (shown as a slide)

More information about the research results of the first stage and next steps, please see this blog post: RESEARCH UPDATE.

Reflections from the audiences:

  • We are trying to redefine the marketplace.
  • Talent is the key.
  • Are there opportunities to grow into photography, film etc. other fields; as well as to high school context? – Jerome: Due to the time constraints it is not possible; also we would talk about different clusters, streams. But we would love to!
  • Mary: We develop models for others to use, do not necessarily implement!
  • Jerome: We want to root the model in Kenya but will also spread it; we will collaborate with the African Union, as of next May, so we have a great avenue to distribute the model. This is a process. It’s constantly changing.”

Setting the context: Showcase Animation, Music & Games products

Guests go around the space to check what the creator-participants are showcasing. The space is divided in 3 areas, each one with prototypes and products developed in AKE so far.

Mary reminds the visitors: “We are engaging in criticality. Guests: tell us what is working and what is not!

  • What do you think of these products?
  • What one or two changes would make these of commercial value?
  • Can you suggest ideas/ areas for turning these into products/ services that can find markets?
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The environment today at the round table and solution design workshop is of engagement, support and interest

The GESCI team in Nairobi has developed a  tool to capture ideas from the participants in the round table. The main aim is to recruit the help of visitors today, and capture ideas that will help all the projects move forward into viable ventures by 2016.

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Form for documenting ideas, tips and feedback from round table participants

The environment in the room is active and everybody is looking at the projects. There has been positive critique and many elements have been raised to help participant move up with their projects.

Some of the suggestions include

Practical tips: For example how it is possible to work on the key notes of the music, so they are not just flat and that the music can communicate?

Organizing work: e.g. feedback on how to ensure productions have clear roles and responsibilities like a director, a script writer and lead animator so that outcomes (like the Sponsor Series Video story) flow seamlessly.

Relevance and communication: Products should communicate their relevance by addressing issues that affect everyday life.  Messages need to be kept clear and an idea of the target audience should be framed on time. This is key for important for artistic purposes  and to ensure market success.

Back to basics: Well tested principles for storytelling and visualization should not be underestimated.

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Interviewing Soire Dickson (AKE participant) on his experiences during the round table

Soire Dickson, one of the participants in the AKE animation line, talked briefly with us on the many insights they have been gathering in this event. He was very positive with the AKA model of learning where industry experts, GESCI Staff and their tutors have challenged them to create animation that suits the Kenyan scene.

Mary asks the audience “What stood up”?:

  • Value entertainment! Produced by team work.
  • Creativity and innovation on current topics.
  • Role of humor.
  • Storytelling
  • Tensions between content vs technique that need to be resolved
  • What could be and should be “African touch”?
  • Quality needs to be continuously developed to reach industry standards. We are not there yet.
  • Team work
  • I which ways the products are valuable? How to support more participants to think as entrepreneurs?
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Some feedback for AKE. See more also at @Gesci or @Gesci2 #Creativemedia

Ideation: Generating Ideas by “scrumming”

Mary made a small introduction to the SCRUM approach that -with some adaptations- will be used in this session to generate concrete ideas and tasks for each theme to move forward. (Scrum meetings will also be at the core of the AKE second phase so this is good rehearsal for all participants :))

WHAT: In a scrum meeting (also called a sprint) the product owners gather together with the scrum team, share the results achieved so far, evaluate them and steer the project into a new direction for the next sprint. In the round table we did a version that included this elements:

Brainstorming –> Concept Mapping –> Voting –> Concept Pitching –>


Brainstorming for music products


Mapping and clustering the ideas

After brainstorming and concept mapping what concrete steps should the team do?

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Scrum ideas sprint – format for developing AKE products in the round table


Concrete tasks, work to do for the next months here at AKE



Reporting from the workshop sessions, by Shylor Mwanje

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Shylor Mwanje

An example: Music section — radio market analysis — what kind of music being played, involvement of the audience in music video production, involvement in social media marketing, touring as a relatively new opportunity.

Mary Hooker: “Networking and collaborative networks are the key. We can’t realize them alone. Results we be digitized and shared (also in this blog 🙂 ”

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Feedback via social media! We will put out a question and please give us feedback on Facebook, Twitter, or below as a comment to this blog!

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Guest Speaker: Ogwang Omuga Oongo

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 9.28.13 AM“Do you know the Superman? What’s the company that owns Whatsapp?

How do we grow the Sponsa (a GESCI-AKE creative project) into such a big success? Who owns Sponsa?

KNOWLEDGE is proprietary! We are handling proprietary information and talent and we need to organize. We don’t have structuralization. We need to copyright to protect us.

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BUT: Intellectual property does not only protect but also opens opportunities — investments, other products!

You need to know what is copywriteable. You can’t afford to assume, you need to know.

There are different forms of intellectual property: copyrights, trademarks, patents… 

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Knowledge and information form the economy but they take different forms. We are going to school but we are building companies.

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Your ideas will open doors for you. We can think into the future, 10 years ahead. So let’s begin that way, seeing intellectual property as proprietary.


Victor Omondi’s closing remarks:

This is not the end of our interactions and collaborations. This project ends in the beginning of December but that’s the beginning of the model.

We will share the report with everyone. And we will build on this network.












In the News: Week of 25 July

This Exciting Afrofuturist Role-Playing Game Is Revolutionizing the Video Game Industry in Africa & Beyond

With East Africa rapidly emerging as one of the the world’s creative and entrepreneurial hotspots, UNESCO is launching a new project in Uganda to strengthen the country’s cultural industries and the skills of creative professionals

Know your markets: The state of Nigeria’s (live) music industry

AfriCHI 2016 Workshops in Nairobi (November) are currently open for submission. AfriCHI aims to widen Africans’ international participation in the practice and study of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interaction Design, and to advance HCI by increased awareness of designs, tools, inventions, methods, theories and pedagogies for creating or using technology in Africa.

In the news: Week of 6th of June

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Google search for: Dazzling Graphics, Africa

TSoTC Questionnaire on Collaboration: TOP 5 Insights

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.56.18 AMIn December 2015 we asked from TSoTC practitioners, instructors, and other GESCI participants about their views on good collaborative project design, practices and experiences (you can see the questions here).

Here are the Top 5 most important insights from your project collaboration, innovation, and learning experiences:

  1. Leadership is the key. No matter how many brilliant experts from many fields take part in the project, without clear joint goals and strong, precise leadership to guide the road to the goals, collaboration will be difficult. Promises and timelines need to be met, by everyone, and this needs to be coordinated and managed. [Question: Should Living Lab -type learning environments include some leadership training for all?]
  2. Brainstorming is important — and it takes time. Innovation with other experts from different fields requires time to find common ground, vocabulary, and ways of working. Free exchange of ideas is clearly desirable and beneficial to innovative processes. Feedback and (peer) critique is also an essential part of learning — and project innovation. [Question: Should Living Lab -type learning environments include some structured scenario/brainstorming workshops, just to get everyone used to related working methods? Should there be special ‘idle time’ allocated to taking, exchanging experiences, informally creating wild ideas…]
  3. Networking builds team spirit, and extends the benefits of training. Related to point 2: A major advantage of a Living Lab -type of educational-innovation project is that it can teach not only skills but build alliances and partnerships beyond the training/project itself. Clearly, connecting learning with a real life projects and businesses is considered a great benefit. [Question: Should Living Lab -type learning environments include networking events such as a Demo Day / Showcase as a standard part of their curricula?]
  4. Everyone needs marketing skills. Related to point 3: Some participants of TSoTC highlight the reality that today’s innovation professionals need to understand business skills and be able to market their talent and projects. [Question: Should Living Lab -type learning environments include some marketing training for all? Should an LL environment also include end users as participants — to enhance product development and marketing strategies?]
  5. Collaboration honors the individual. Finally, an overall theme emerging from the questionnaire is that participants appreciate both individual guidance/projects/mentoring as well as the collaborative effort. The former should not be forgotten because of the latter. The combination of individual mentoring/attention and collaborative practices might be especially important for a Living Lab environment that aims to innovate, as well as to educate.

What would you add to the list?

Research Design: Proposal Draft

Background & Purpose

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 10.47.45 AMThe Sound of the City, a project of GESCI – African Knowledge Exchange (AKE), is a Living Lab (LL) project that aims to encapsulate through creative practice in digital arts technology, the vibrancy and currency of the contemporary Hip Hop scene in and around Nairobi. The participant-practitioners will produce  a collaborative digital art work, while simultaneously up-skilling in three independent and relevant learning streams. 

The project also entails an academic research component. Its purpose is to gather information and insights for co-creation of a transferable and international LL model, that advocates online tools and enables international stakeholders to participate. The research part of the project is designed to run from late November 2014 to end March 2015. 

Goals of the AKE LL Research Component

Goals of the AKE LL Research Component

This blog is meant as the key hub for the collaborative research by the participants, instructors, potential users, industry representatives, as well as creative, technology, pedagogical, and other experts involved and/or interested in the project. The blog content is curated by Dr Minna Horowitz and MSocSc Vesa Saarinen of Aalto University’s Media Lab Helsinki, Finland.

Concept in Context: 3 Variables

Source: AKE Living Lab Framework

Source: AKE Living Lab Framework

The core design of the research part of the AKE Living Lab entails three basic features that frame the research design.

  1. First, the production of The Sound of the City has been designed to function as a ‘dual-purpose’ Living Lab, for education as well as for innovation. While most LL environments are based on co-discovery and co-learning, the AKE model is specifically envisioned to serve as an educational Living Lab that is focused not only on innovation but also building practical skills necessary for innovation.  The research seeks to capture both innovative practices of collaborative ICT projects, as well as educational solutions that correspond to those features.
  2. Another core aspect for any Living Lab is that of co-creation at all stages of the processes. This means a ‘spiral’ process that includes many participants, for instance users and business developers, at the very first stages of idea formation, as well as all stages of (technological) development (not only at the later stages of prototype testing, evaluation, and so on). The research aims at building in situations early on (not only at a testing phase) where this kind of co-creation and feedback happens as a part of the study (e.g., in focus groups conversations amongst practitioner-participants and potential users, as feedback from a variety of experts, and so on).
  3. The third feature of the LL concept, especially central in the context of AKE,  is that of involvement of a wider ecosystem (or, multiplicity of stakeholders). The research seeks to introduce elements that bring in insights and sometimes direct feedback from a variety of stakeholders beyond the AKE project and its direct ‘communities of practice’ and ‘communities of interest’ (e.g., the company partners, or the Ministries). Given that the ICT sector is at the outset international, the research seeks to include elements to test possibilities of broadening the network of stakeholders, for the benefit of the innovation and educational aspects of the final proposed LL model.

Research Design

(c) Minna Horowitz & Vesa Saarinen

(c) Minna Horowitz & Vesa Saarinen

The research of the AKE LL brings together three distinct elements. First, it seeks to map the contextual aspects (from resources to existing knowledge and needs) in order to suggest a framework for mapping the first stages of (any) similar LL. Second, it will aim at capturing ‘significant events’  in terms of innovative approaches to innovative co-creation AND co-learning within the project, and at assessing their generalizability for similar LL processes. Finally, it will embrace an idea/l of a broad network of stakeholders as well as develop ways in which that network can be managed and utilized.  The research is envisioned to tap into the specific network created for this research, from participant-practitioners to international industry experts, for future visions and opportunities.

The model proposed for GESCI – AKE will include recommendations for the LL approach, for research/background work needed to contextualize the model, for selection and involvement of partners (stakeholders), as well as for ICT and other resources. It will also address the question of management, ranging from knowledge transfer to intellectual property issues of collaborative innovation.

Core Methodology, Main Methods

The evident methodological solution for this effort is participatory research. The educational and innovative elements of the AKE LL may often be entailed in the very same practice, and that goes also in terms of the research components: While working, the participant-practitioners get to reflect upon their work and discuss it in various ways, with different stakeholders; while also learning and innovating.

The core methods are the following:

  1. Questionnaire to participant-practitioners, instructors, GESCI-AKE administrators, industry representatives and external professionals on mapping the context, including also their views on the core purposes, key questions, and practical approaches of the research.
    • Objective: Overview of “what is now” for the communities of practice: their needs, their definitions of collaboration and innovation, their experiences of good practice. Background for 2. and 3.
  2. On-going “working diary“, i.e., documentation and conversation of the project process via this blog. That can include anything from structured conversations, images, music, videos, to informal chats to “expert insights” by visiting bloggers and other interesting stakeholders. The content can range from depicting the working environment to describing a break-through in innovation to mapping best daily routines, to testing an idea with invited commentators.  The idea is to create a rich, curated yet informal platform for gathering material for “The Making Of… The Sound of the City”. The curation of the blog will aim at gathering material that will be used to formulate the final model, but that can also be used in a variety of other ways, e.g., for a multi-media presentation to illustrate the LL process when showcasing the final product.
    • Objective: Collaborative research of “what is happening”. Self-documentation and co-analysis of the ongoing LL process, by the core stakeholders  of the communities of practice (with some “prompts” from the research team); sharing of information and perspectives by the guest expert bloggers. Material for model, as well as the Showcase.
  3. The Showcase. The Showcase event to be organized in connection to graduation will also serve as an opportunity for researching multi-stakeholder innovation and interaction.
    • Objective: Collaborative research on “what can be”. Testing the Showcase as a potential part of the LL model; creating an opportunity for collaborative scenario-building and brainstorming about the future innovation contexts for LLs.

These three basic methods will be diversified and deepened with specific research interventions as needed.

Please see our tentative draft schedule outline below, and details, including possible methodological approaches, here.

(c) Minna Horowitz & Vesa Saarinen

(c) Minna Horowitz & Vesa Saarinen

More Information

Please see our background notes of the Living Lab concept, its application in the GESCI-AKE Context, and its implications to the research design, in this slideshow:

(and downloadable here).

More about the Living Lab methodology, see the section of the blog on Resources.