Author Archives: Ravi Murugesan


About Ravi Murugesan

I live in India and I'm an INASP Associate. I work for the AuthorAID project, mostly as a trainer, and I spend a lot of time on INASP's online learning platform.

AuthorAID embedding initiative

This update on the AuthorAID embedding initiative was originally posted via the AuthorAID website on 9 June.  For updates and information about AuthorAID activities, see the AuthorAID blog.  Six years ago, the first AuthorAID workshop was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Since then, we have conducted numerous workshops on research communication, and regular readers of this blog would have seen Barbara’s and occasionally my reports on our workshops. A train-the-trainers component is typically included within our research writing workshops, so as to enable some of the more qualified participants to lead their own workshops locally. We’re pleased to see that over the years several AuthorAID workshops have been organised in various countries by trained and motivated researchers. This ‘cascading’ effect has imparted research writing skills to many more people than those who’ve got to attend workshops organised by AuthorAID staff.

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An eventful year of online courses

After a successful pilot phase in 2011, e-learning became a formal part of AuthorAID at INASP in July 2012 with the launch of our Moodle system. Last year, we conducted two online courses in research writing, which were completed by 58 researchers from about 20 developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They were among 68 researchers who enrolled in the courses following an application and selection stage. Encouraged by the high completion and participation rates (see this post for more details), we began our first collaboration to develop and run a customized course in research writing. Our partner in this effort was Blacksmith Institute, a US-based nonprofit focused on solving pollution problems. Sandy Page-Cook and Anne Riederer from Blacksmith’s Journal of Health and Pollution helped us customize the course to make it relevant to researchers working in environmental health.

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Open access and academic blogging

This post appeared originally on BMJ Blogs on 31 October 2013: I’m not a social scientist, so it was with some anxiety that I travelled halfway across the world to attend the World Social Science Forum. The theme, “social transformations and the digital age,” gave me some hope. I teach online and I’m a telecommuter, so I thought as a person of the digital age I wouldn’t be entirely out of place. At the conference, which took place recently in Montreal, I learnt a bit about the “social transformations” part as well, especially in one area: scholarly publishing. A lot is changing in scholarly publishing, so it’s a time of transformations, but what’s “social” about it? I think there’s a clue in two movements: open access and academic blogging.

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PEER Science Participants’ Conference in Bangkok

One night in June I became quite happy upon seeing an email on my Blackberry (yes, I still use one). It was an invitation to speak about getting research published at a conference for scientists from developing countries. I have just come back from this conference with fond memories and a much better understanding of what it takes to do good, collaborative scientific research in developing countries. The conference was called the PEER Science Participants’ Conference and it was held in Bangkok. PEER stands for Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research. It is run jointly by three American organizations: USAID, NSF (National Science Foundation), and NAS (National Academy of Sciences). PEER sets up collaborations between researchers in developing countries and American researchers, and funding is given to the former through USAID.

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MOOCs and educational development: Part 6

This is the sixth and final post in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses).  My previous posts were largely about my personal experience learning in a MOOC. I think MOOCs offer excellent learning opportunities for people in developing countries, whether or not they are students in higher education. I’ve written up some tips that may help learners make the most of MOOCs. In this post I’d like to present some opinions, from a developing-country perspective, on the implications of MOOCs for higher education.

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MOOCs and educational development: Part 5

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses). In my previous posts I wrote about my experience learning in a 3-month free MOOC in biostatistics offered by edX. During the days on which final exam had to be taken, the discussion forum was locked to prevent students from discussing the questions or posting answers. After the deadline to take the final exam passed, the discussion forum was opened again. Whereas during the course most of the posts had naturally been about the course material, after the exam the posts were on different themes. Many were desperate pleas from students who had missed the cut-off passing score (85%). They lamented how they had put in so many hours working on the course over 3 months only to fail the exam. To add to the unpleasantness, there were harsh replies from some students who … Continue reading

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