Online Free Knowledge Sharing

By David SouthDevelopment 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.

Published: August 2007


  • 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

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

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© David South Consulting 2022


Research Reviews | 2001 – 2002


Research Review 2001: A Year of Excellence and Innovation 

Britain’s best-loved children’s hospital and charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust (GOSH), contracted me to lead a two-year project to modernise the hospital’s web presence and take its brand into the 21st century.


Research Review 2002: Building on Success 

In 2003, the UK’s Guardian newspaper called the Children First website one of the “three most admired websites in the UK public and voluntary sectors,” and a UK government assessment called the overall GOSH child health web portal a role model for the NHS.
“A highly attractive website written by and with children at Britain’s biggest specialist hospital for children. The site is carefully segmented for different age groups and provides a powerful platform on which children can reach out from the confines of their hospital wards, share their experiences and learn about a range of medical issues as well as have access to fun interactive resources.”

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© David South Consulting 2021


20 Years Ago

It was 20 years ago this month (September 2001) that the GOSH Child Health Portal was launched in London, UK. The award-winning website was called “One of the three most admired websites in the UK public and voluntary sectors”.

“Making sure that your child has helpful, easy-to-read information will make a significant difference to their time in hospital. I am sure that this website will prove very useful for children and their families.” Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Britain’s best-loved children’s hospital and charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust (GOSH), contracted me to lead a two-year project to modernise the hospital’s web presence and take its brand into the 21st century. GOSH is both Britain’s first children’s hospital and a pioneering child health institution (along with its partner the Institute for Child Health). The hospital’s outstanding reputation meant the project was carried out under intense public, media and professional scrutiny, and required a keen awareness of new media developments and the needs of the hospital’s patients, their families and the public.

The project was developed in three, distinct phases. Screen grabs from these phases are now available for download and evaluation. They also include web traffic statistics. This unique snapshot of a complex project as it unfolded, should prove useful for other e-health practitioners.

Phase 1: ealth-Portal-Proj...
Phase 2: ealth-Portal-Proj...
Phase 3: ealth-Portal-Proj...

In 2001, the project also launched an interactive Christmas child health advent calendar offering top tips from health professionals on how to have a safe holiday season. The PDF can be viewed here:

A great way to track the historical development of a web project is to use the Wayback Machine’s internet archive here. By typing in the web address (for example,, and, you can see a chronological history of the website by month.

Read here about the child health portal project’s vision and strategy, its launch and overall impact. Or download a brief Powerpoint presentation here: GOSH Powerpoint.

In 2003, the UK’s Guardian newspaper called the Children First website one of the “three most admired websites in the UK public and voluntary sectors,” and a UK government assessment called the overall GOSH child health web portal a role model for the NHS.

In 2006, The Times of London called Children First the Top Child Health Website in its Wellbeing on the Web: The Best Portals survey (November 11, 2006).

The GOSH Child Health Portal Team circa 2002.

What we did 10 Years Ago

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© David South Consulting 2021


The Dawn Of The Genetics Revolution | 2001 – 2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was officially declared complete in 2003. A rough draft of the human genome sequencing carried out by the HGP was formally announced in 2000 and the completed sequence was announced in 2003. This breakthrough spawned many initiatives, including Iceland’s deCode (below), and was reflected in the work I was called upon to undertake for the GOSH Child Health Portal at the time, such as designing websites for the London IDEAS Genetics Knowledge Park and the UK Newborn Screening Programme Centre (at bottom). I photographed the author of Our Genes, Steindor Erlingsson, in Reykjavik, Iceland for The Associated Press in 2002.

“Frenzy fades over ambitious genetics mapping project” by Jill Lawless, Associated Press, December 1, 2002.

From CBS News: ‘Gene Frenzy’ Heats Up Iceland by Jill Lawless, Associated Press, December 2, 2002.

UK Newborn Screening Programme Centre website screen grab.

Read a story I did for the UNDP e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions here: China Pushing Frontiers of Medical Researc.

My background:

CASE STUDY 5: GOSH/ICH Child Health Portal | 2001 – 2003

Hannah Institute For The History Of Medicine | 1992 – 1994


© David South Consulting 2017