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The Shellbook Process: Localization

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Life Access Technology Trust founder Mike Trainum, as a village-based linguist/translator in Papua New Guinea, developed an completely inclusive process through which every member of a community -- regardless of their reading ability -- could participate in the localization of literacy, education, and development information materials of all types in terms of their own language, cultural perspective, gender, or age group. The process is known as Patterned Oral Paraphrase ("POP") or "POP Localization."

Step One: Creating a Shellbook Global Resource Edition
POP begins with the creation of a Shellbook Global Resource Edition or "learning shell" by an agency that has information that it wishes to make accessible for localization by diverse communities in a particular area, or around the world. It might be information on avoiding waterborne diseases, on preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, or how to start a micro-enterprise in a subsistence-based economy.

First, a production team of topic experts and representatives from target communities is formed to create the "prime" edition of the Shellbook. This first version is the Global Resource Edition and establishes the new "learning shell". The prime will become the "progenitor" of all regionalized and localized derivitive versions created from it.

The development team will determine which key concepts to include in the shell, and then gather materials about them to create facilitator training materials. The team will then write a model story (case study or "life story") in which the plot touches on each key concept. Once the team has drafted a model story, it is illustrated -- one picture per key concept. Here's an example of a development website used to coordinate production of these four Shellbooks by a team of topic experts and Texas prison inmates (who were representatives from the target audience).

Step Two: A Regional Perspective
Next, the Resource Edition may be downloaded anywhere in the world for "regionalization". In this intermediate process, the Resource Edition takes on the character of a national or regional culture in preparation for localization by communities within that area. This may be done by an agency's international staff or partner organizations, or the original Resource Edition may be made available to the general public through a global online library system.

The regional agency then reviews the Resource Edition and adapts it as needed to make the information more meaningful and appropriate in that part of the world. This may include translating the information into a regional language such as Swahili and adapting images and training materials to make them more culturally acceptable and relevant to a specific area. The resulting publication is called a Shellbook Regional Resource Edition.

Step Three: A Local Perspective
Bilingual Workshop in PNG When it is completed, the Regional Edition is made available to communities within that area. At this stage, exciting things begin to happen. An agency facilitator (Mentor) and local community members examine and discuss the information provided in the Regional Edition. Using the training materials and adaptation advice included in the Regional Edition, community members work together to produce their own Shellbook Local Language Edition. They create their own culturally appropriate, understandable, and useful version of the information, in their own language.  This Local Language Edition can be produced in print, audio, or video versions as appropriate. The Shellbook format integrates and archives all of these media in a single "shell".

Community Involvement and Ownership:
Anywhere, in Any Language

'Abe' Silkscreening and early shell book Community members participate in every aspect of producing Local Language Editions, from developing the content to printing and/or recording, to distributing and using them. The Shellbook process creates a new realm of opportunity for micro-enterprise development in thousands of communities around the world.

Involving the community in the Shellbook process not only ensures the accuracy, understanding, ownership, and impact of vital information, but also lends credibility and authority to the information conveyed. The influence of a Shellbook Resource Edition can be limitless in scope. It can be localized by communities in sub-Saharan Africa, the innermost reaches of Amazonia, the remotest islands of Micronesia in any language or any culture anywhere.

The Result: Transformational Change >>