Online Free Knowledge Sharing

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions


UNESCO’s Kronberg Declaration on the Future of Knowledge Acquisition and Sharing is blunt: the future of learning will increasingly be mediated by technology, and traditional educational processes will be revolutionized. Acquiring factual knowledge will decrease and instead people will need to find their way around complex systems and be able to judge, organize and creatively use relevant information.

According to Abdul Waheed Khan, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Communications and Information, “Lack of access to knowledge increasingly accentuates marginalization and economic deprivation, and we need to join efforts to bridge these gaps”

More and more initiatives are stepping in to break down barriers in the exchange of information and knowledge, and break out from the gatekeepers. The advent of Web 2.0 and its user-contributed resources is making this happen.

Connexions sees itself as the partner to go with the free and low-cost laptops being distributed by the One Laptop Per Child Project to schoolchildren in the developing world. Connexions is a Web 2.0 website that allows teachers and educators to upload their learning materials by subject for sharing with anyone who wants them. All content is broken down into modules for easy access. The content can be mixed to build courses, and adapted to suit local conditions. It represents a cornucopia of knowledge, ranging from mathematics to engineering to music lessons.

The content’s adaptability is its charm – users can add additional media like video and photos and modify and add on-the-ground case studies to really bring the material to life for students. The ability to re-mix and re-contextualise into the local circumstances is critical to get take-up of these resources argues Connexions.

Open Educational Resources is a global teaching and learning sharing website. It is all about getting teachers to open up and share their knowledge with other teachers. It contains full courses, course modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab and classroom activities, pedagogical materials, games and simulations, It is run by ISKME,an independent, non-profit educational think tank whose mission is to understand and improve how schools, colleges, and universities, and the organizations and agencies that support them, build their capacity to systematically collect and share information

Another excellent way to share information is the online publishing tool Lulu. While it is free to publish – whether a book, photo book, brochure, artwork, digital media, DVD and e-books – it does cost the person who wants to download or order a printed and bound copy. The creator of the content gets to choose how much should be charged and what is a fair price. The beauty of this website is the ability for anyone to publish and to bypass the limitations of traditional publishing.

Once you have created your content, and taken the decision to share it with the world, you can also make sure it is copyright protected so that nobody accept you makes money from it. It is aimed at authors, scientists, artists and educators, and lets them protect their work for free. The Creative Commons initiative allows repeat use for free of the content as long as the user attributes its source to its original author. Any content you publish online will be given a logo clearly stating what rights it has.


  • Professor Richard Baraniuk explains his concept in a video: click here to view

  • The Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists and educators to easily define what rights they will allow people to have who use their work. The website has all the tools (including logos) to get started licensing work:

  • Kronberg Declaration: Kronberg Declaration.pdf

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.